Sometimes I love life. Sometimes I despise life. Lately, I feel as though I've been a zombie. Walking around brain dead and not really having any direction in life. I guess sometimes that's okay. Mostly it makes me reflect upon my life and wonder why I made so many mistakes. I suppose I've learned from them, but now that I'm older, I look back and wish I had done things differently. I see people my age with their lives together, settled into their careers, and having big families. On the flip side, I've seen people my age scrambling around trying to find their way in life too. I see I'm not alone, but sometimes it sure feels like it. As I sit here writing my words I reflect on my life. I think about the people that have come in and gone away. The friendships I've made, the loves I've had, and the people I've hurt. I can't say that I'm proud of everything I've done in life, but I can say that I'm happy I never gave up.
"Ivy are you ready?"
"Just a second, I'll be down in a minute!"
"Hurry up, we're going to be late."
"Okay! I'll be right there!"
Well, dear friend, I gotta run. I'll write more when I come back. Today is my baby's graduation. It seems like only yesterday I gave birth to him. Now I get to watch him walk across the stage and get on with his life.
Ivy Mathews powered down her laptop and grabbed her purse from off her dresser.
"Ivy, are you coming or what? We're gonna be late!" Yelled Allen.
"Yes, I'm coming down now." She yelled back. Ivy made it to the bottom of the stairs and saw her husband holding her jacket for her. He helped her put it on.
"Can you believe Dex is graduating today? It seems like only yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital. He was so tiny and depended on us for everything. Now he's all grown up with his whole life before him." Ivy said reminiscently. Tears began to fill her eyes.
"Oh honey, don't let it get you down. We raised him as best as we could. He'll do fine." Allen assured her. He tried to comfort her as best he could. Ivy knew he meant well but the thought of her little boy growing up, and moving out was painful.
"I know we did. He's still my little boy. He always will be. She added with a smile.
"Let's get going. It's going to be hell finding a parking spot." Allen said jokingly. They walked out of the door and headed to the car.
"Oh crap!" Exclaimed Ivy. "I forgot his card." She turned back around and walked back to the front door. She unlocked the door and ran in to the kitchen to grab Dex's graduation card. She walked towards the door and stopped. She stood there staring at Dex's photo mural that was hanging on the wall. She got lost in the memories that came flooding back to her. Remembering all the laughter and smiles that they shared. She was quickly pulled back to reality by the sound of the car horn. She closed the door and locked it and ran to the car.
"I thought you got lost in there." Allen said with a smirk.
"No, just thinking about Dex when he was younger." She said with a loving smile on her face. "Do you think he's going to like his graduation gift?"
"A summer in England? How could he not! You know he's been wanting to go there since he was a kid." Allen chuckled.
On the way to the graduation, Ivy and Allen talked about all the fun times that they shared with Dex and of good times they plan on having after Dex is gone. They finally reached Dex's school. Parking was almost impossible. They parked four blocks away and walked to the school. The graduation had already started. The valedictorian was giving her speech. Ivy enjoyed seeing the endless color of blue graduation gowns and caps with gold tassels all neatly in a row. The auditorium erupted with applause as the valedictorian concluded her speech. Mr. Chesney, the principal, started calling the student's names to receive their diplomas. Ivy pulled out her camera and anxiously awaited the call of her son. Ivy took pictures of Dex's friends and clapped proudly as each one received their diploma. Finally, Mr. Chesney called out Dex Mathews. Ivy cheered as her son walked across the stage to accept his diploma. She took pictures of his whole trip across the long stage. Tears rolled down her face as her little boy smiled proudly and walked proudly off the stage.
"Let's meet him outside." Whispered Allen. "We can avoid a lot of the crowd."
Ivy nodded in agreement and pushed her way past the other parents. They stood outside of the school with smiles on their faces eagerly waiting for Dex.
"Wow! I can't believe he did it!" Ivy said proudly. "In the fall he will be studying at Stanford. I wonder what he will major in." She asked curiously.
"I don't know. Sadly, he doesn't either. He still has time to decide. It took me until my second year to figure out that I wanted to be a teacher. He'll figure it out...eventually." Allen said confidently. "Luckily he's still young and has a whole lot of life ahead of him. Hell, maybe while he's in London he will figure it out."
"That's true. I always knew what I wanted to do. He must get his undecidedness from you." Ivy replied playfully.
"Well, not all of us are that lucky." Said Allen as he hugged his wife. He kissed her on her forehead. "I'm so proud right now. I'm also excited."
"Excited? How can you be excited knowing our son will be moving out soon?"
"Oh that's easy. We will get to spend a lot of time together, alone!"
"Allen, how can you think about that right now?"
"As much as I love Dex, I've been counting down the days til the day we get our house back. No more of Dex's friends coming in and out. No more late night phone calls. Just quality time with you, my beautiful wife."
"Allen, you're so sweet! Not to mention an old horn dog."
"You don't complain." Allen said confidently.
"True." Ivy said as she blushed. Allen looked lovingly into his wife's eyes and pulled her close. He hugged her tightly.
"I love you Ivy. These past twenty years have been the happiest years of my life. I mean that!"
"I love you too Allen. We've had our ups and downs, but we've always come out closer and stronger. I couldn't imagine my life without you in it." They kissed each other and were quickly interrupted by the class of 2013 rushing through the door. Ivy and Allen looked eagerly for Dex. The students had all gathered on the front steps of the school.
"3,2,1..." Shouted a student. All the students threw their graduation caps into sky above them. Cheers and applause echoed through the neighborhood. Just as quickly as it started, graduation was over. Indistinct conversations were heard everywhere. People where hollering and shouting out plans of after school parties. Parents were crying. Friends were scrambling around to take pictures and preserve their precious memories of their high school days. So many eager and optimistic face prancing around the campus.
Dex strutted up to his parents. "Can you belive it? Look! I did it mom! I did it dad! I am done with high school."
"Congrats baby! Your father and I are so proud of you!" Ivy said as she hugged her son tightly.
"Yes we are!" Allen said as he took the camera from Ivy. "Let's take a picture of the graduation man with his mom."
"Yeah, sure! Come on mom, smile!" Dex said with a huge smile covering his face. He stood next to his mom with his arms wrapped around her.
"Let's get one with you and dad." Ivy said as she reached for the camera. "Smile and say cheese."
A few of Dex's friends walked up and congratulated him.
"Hey guys, get in the picture." Ivy suggested.
"You too mom." Dex smiled.
"Yeah honey, get in there."
"Are you sure?"
Dex's friends agreed. Ivy stepped into the picture.
"Come on Mr. Mathews, you get in the picture and I'll take a family one." Offered Randy. He was Dex's best friend all through school.
"Great idea Randy." Allen said as he handed Randy the camera. The Mathews all smiled and Randy snapped the picture.
"We're all going to Darcy's house around seven. You gonna be there?" Randy asked Dex as he handed Mr. Mathews back his camera.
"I dunno. I'll call you and let you know. I'm not sure what my parents have planned. Some of my family couldn't make it to the ceremony, but they are going to stop by the house later on."
"Alright man! Give me a call and let me know. If ya go, I'll come pick you up. Just call me by 6:30."
"Alright! Congrats bro!" Dex hugged his friend and they said their goodbyes.
"Oh yeah! Hey Mr. Graduation man, here, this is for you!" Ivy said as she handed Dex the blue envelope. Dex smiled as he excitedly took the envelope from his mother's hand. He ripped it open and opened the card.
"Oh my God! Are you serious? Three months in London?" He shouted as he hugged his mom and his dad.
"Yes! Three months in London! My boss has a flat there and he's not going to be there this summer. He said that you could watch his flat and stay there for the summer. His brother is going to be there too, but he didn't want to stay there by himself. This will be his first time to London too. He's an artist and wanted to "explore new artistic horizons", so his mom talked talked him into letting his brother stay there for the summer." Allen explained.
"Thais is so awesome!" I leave next week! I have a lot to do before then." Dex exclaimed.
"You'll be flying with Paul. That's my boss' brother. You'll be going to the airport in style."
"What do you mean?"
"Paul is a bit on the eccentric side. He rented a limo to take him to the airport. Since he didn't want to go there by himself, he offered to take you to the airport."
"Wow! London and a limo? I feel like royalty." Dex said jokingly.
"Let's head home. The rest of the family will be there shortly. I'm so proud of you Dex!" Ivy said as she hugged her son. They walked towards the car to head home.
"Do you think I'll be able to go to Darcy's house tonight?"
"Well son, you are eighteen and an adult. It's your decision." Allen said.
"I know dad. On one hand I want to go. I won't see my friends for a long time, if ever. I love my family and feel like I should spend time with them since they were willing to come here for me. I don't want to disappoint anyone. It's so weird. If I were younger you'd tell me that family comes first. I made some great friends at school and consider them family. But I don't feel like I'd disappoint them if I didn't go. I feel like I'd be disappointing you guys."
"You won't disappoint us if you go to Darcy's" Ivy assured her son.
"I know mom. My head just tells me I would."
"You do what you want to Dex. This is your day! You've earned it." Allen said with a proud smile on his face.
Dex smiled. He felt as though he had really accomplished something in his life. He had quite a few set setbacks through his eighteen years. When he was five he had fallen out of a tree and broke his back. When he turned eleven, he and his friend were playing by the old train tracks and his leg got caught in a track. He fell over and broke his leg. He chuckled at the thought of that because when it happened he thought that the bone poking through his shin looked fake compared to those in movies he had seen. He passed out when the initial shock wore off.
"Looks like Grandma Tilly is here already." Allen said as he pulled into the driveway.
"Huh?" Dex replied coming back to reality.
"Grandma Tilly is here." Allen repeated.
Dex quickly took off his seatbelt and got out of the car.
"There's my graduate!" Tilly said with a warm smile and her arms spread for a hug from her baby boy.
"Hi Grandma! Can you believe it? I thought this day was never gonna get here." Dex gave his grandma a big hug. Tilly was his favorite Grandma. He treated all his grandparents the same, with a lot of love and respect, but Tilly was his favorite. She helped him learn how to play piano. They always shared a passionate obsession with music. When Dex was four, Tilly took him to see a concert that was putting on a tribute for the most influential composers throughout time. Mozart was their favorite.
"Here, this is for you. It's from me and Grampa. He would be so proud of you Dex." She handed him a yellow envelope.
"Thanks Grandma!" Dex said as he gently opened the envelope, which exposed a beautifully written card. Dex reared up as he read each word. He pulled the check out of the pocket and his jaw dropped to the floor when he read the amount. "Wow Grandma! This is a lot of money. Are you sure you can afford this?"
"My grandson only graduates from high school once. Besides, I have everything I need. You have so much ahead of you. You enjoy this!" She said as she hugged her baby.
Allen took the check from Dex's hand. "Mom, this is a lot of money. Can you afford this?"
"You hush up Allen. I said its fine and that's that." She snapped.
Tilly quickly interrupted her son, "Allen Franklin Mathews, I said its fine and I don't want to hear another word about this. Now, let's go inside. I'm thirsty."
Tilly and Dex walked to the door while Ivy and Allen got a few bags out of the car. Allen showed Ivy the check that his mother had given Dex.
"Can you believe this?" Allen said with a disapproving tone.
Ivy took the check from his hand. "Fifty thousand dollars?"
"I know! That's way too much money for him to have at this age. I'm going to have to talk to mom about this later on."
"Oh Allen. You know how much she loves Dex. Besides, she's getting worse. I haven't told Dex how sick she is. She just wants to make sure that he is taken care of for awhile."
"You're implying that she thinks I can't take care of my son." He said full of frustration.
"No! That's not what I mean at all. She thinks you're a wonderful father. It's just giving her peace of mind. Let her do this for him. You wanna know what I think?"
He grabbed his wife and pulled her near. Gazing into her eyes he asked. "What do you think?"
"I think you're jealous!" She chuckled.
"Jealous? Why would I be jealous?"
"Well, what did you get for your graduation?"
"Humph...I got told that it was time for me to get a job or go to college. I can see why you say that." He laughed.
"Parents always spoil the grand kids more so than their own kids. Now let's get inside. We have to get ready for everyone else to show up." Ivy started grabbing for a bag to take inside when Allen kissed her. "Come on, we need to go inside." She laughed. They grabbed the bags and Allen shut the trunk. With bags in hand, they walked to the front door. They were greeted with an annoyed Tilly standing in the entrance. She stood there with her hands on her hips and that stern expression on her face that a mother gives when her child is about to get lectured.
"Well what did you say about me?" She asked defensively. Her foot started tapping to add an extra flair of anger.
"I'll let you handle this one." Ivy said as she grabbed the bag from Allen and squeezed tightly by Tilly.
"Thanks honey! Love you too." He yelled as she headed towards the kitchen.
"Well?" Tilly demanded.
"It's fine mom. He can keep it. But..."
Tilly quickly interrupted her son,"There is no but..."
Before should finished her sentence Allen said firmly, "There is a but. The but is that he does not get to spend it all at once. He has to put most of it in the bank. We'll discuss how much he can have for his trip to London later."
"Oh! Well, good." She exclaimed as though she had just won a major battle in a war. "Let's get some food! I'm starving. That drive here seemed like it took forever."
Allen chuckled as he closed the door behind him. He put his keys on the table that stood in the foyer. "So mom, how are you doing?"
"I'm getting tired more easily. And certain foods are just tasting awful. You know how much I love chocolate, can't stand the stuff now. It tastes like dirt and leaves a bad taste in my mouth."
"Are you getting around good by yourself?"
"I have my good days and I have my bad days, same as anyone else. Quit making such a fuss over me. You're as bad as those damn doctors and nurses."
"Sorry mom. I just worry about you is all."
"I've been taking care of myself longer than you've been alive. I think I'll manage." She said as she hugged her son. "I know you're concerned. Especially since I live alone and so far away. I like it like that though. After your father died, God rest his soul, I never could enjoy anyone as much as I enjoyed him. Now, I'd rather live alone than put up with the ignorance of people nowadays."
"Mom, I love you! You always were a strong and brave woman. Ivy and I have been talking." He looked at his mother with caring eyes and reached out for her hand, "we want you to come and live with us. You can have the guesthouse all to yourself. We even had it remodeled to where it has all the necessities and a few nice...ity's."
"Oh honey. I don't know. Your father bought that house. I don't think I could just sell it. There are so many memories there. We made that house a home for you and your sisters. So much has happened there. I just don't think I could give it up." A sad look came across Tilly's face. "It's almost the last thing I have of your father."
"Now mom, don't get all sad..."
"Well! How can I not? You're the one that brought it all up."
"True, I did. I just want you here with us."
"Why? So you can take care of me? Take care of your sick mom?"
"No, that's not what I was implying. I just don't want you to be alone. You need to be with family. Studies have shown that..."
"Now don't start that 'studies have shown' nonsense with me. You know those are rigged right?"
"They aren't! Studies can be rigged sure, but most studies have solid information with subjects that don't really know what they're actually doing. Researchers say one thing, to lead the subjects to act normally, but the tests conducted prove something else and yield very accurate conclusions."
"Okay, I'm just not in the mood to hear what science can prove. I hear it from my doctors every time it go and see them."
"Alright mom. Just please consider moving in with us. It would mean so much to all of us if you did."
"Alright dear, I'll think about it. I make no promises or guarantees though. Now let's talk about Dex. Today is his big day."
"Can you believe he graduated? Seems like only yesterday he was born and I was holding him in my arms. You were right, time flies after you have a kid."
The conversation was interrupted by the doorbell. More family members began pouring in. There was a lot of laughter and talking on Dex's big day.
"Hey Randy! What's up bro? It's Dex."
"Oh! Hey man. Am I coming to get you or what? This party is gonna be bitchin."
"Nah. I'm gonna stay with my family."
"Dude you're so lame! What the hell is wrong with ya? Allison is gonna be there. You know she has the biggest crush on you!"
"Dude whatever. We are just friends! Besides, she started dating some guy named Derek."
"Man that's just a front. She made him up to make you jealous."
"Anyways, wait! Really? Why would she do that?"
"Because man, she's a female! That's the shit they pull to get the guy they like. Don't you know anything about girls? My sisters do that shit all the time."
"No I'm not. This one time, Jamie had such a crush on this guy that she even sent flowers and notes to herself. I'm not kidding. The guy she liked happened to like her and he got so jealous. It was kinda funny though. They broke up two weeks later."
"I didn't know girls did that. I'll call her later and see if she wants to hang out before I go to London for the summer."
"London? For real?"
"Yeah! My parents got me a ticket. I get to spend three months there in my dad's boss's flat. His brother is going to be there too. And, dude, you aren't even gonna believe this next one. My grandma gave me fifty grand!"
"You're lyin'! Damn man! You're lucky. All I got was my moms crappy car. She got a new Benz and I got her Toyota. I'm jealous."
"You got the Toyota? That's a sweet ride man. It's practically brand new. Didn't your mom just get it last year?"
"Yeah, but my car is used! I was hoping for a new one."
"At least you got one. Well anyway, my family is here and they are calling for me. I'll catch up with you before I head to London."
"When do you leave you lucky ass?"
"Wednesday. We can hang out this weekend if you're not busy."
"Sounds good bro! Have fun! I'll keep an eye on Allison for you! Later man!"
"Dex come on, everyone's waiting for you!" His mom shouted up the stairs.
"Coming!" He yelled back.
Dex walked down the stairs and all of his family was anxiously awaiting him.
"Speech! Speech! Speech!" They shouted in unison.
"I don't know what to say. I'm shocked that this day has come. Mom, dad, thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for pushing me to my limits and being there for me. Family, thank you for all your love and support. I'm not good at these speeches, so let's eat!"
Ivy and Allen walked over to Dex and hugged him tightly. "We love you so much and we are just so..." Ivy's voice began breaking up as tears rolled down her cheeks.
"I think what your mother is trying to say is, we are so proud of you! You've grown into a fine young man. You have a lot to offer this world and we will be behind you every step of the way."
"Thanks mom. Thanks dad. You know I love you both right?"
"But," they both said in unison.
"No buts. I just love you both so much!"
"You're leaving for the party aren't you?" Asked Allen.
"Actually dad, I'm not. By the way, did you know girls are sneaky?"
"What do you mean we are sneaky?" Ivy asked quizzically.
"Randy told me that Allison has a crush on me."
"Well honey, we all knew that. But how is that sneaky." Ivy chuckled.
"Wait, what? You knew?" Dex asked with a dumbfounded expression on his face. "How did you know?"
"It's obvious son. Even I knew that!" Allen laughed.
"Now, how are we sneaky?" Ivy asked. She was dying to know.
"Allison told me she was dating this guy named Derek. When Randy told me that she made him up I couldn't believe it. He said girls do that all the time. Then he told me about his sister Jamie. She would send flowers and notes to herself in front of the guy she liked. The guy liked her too and he got crazy jealous. They broke up two weeks later, but still. Girls really do that?"
"I never did that!" Ivy replied. "I let the guys come to me."
"Oh really honey? What about the time that you and