And So It Begins…

At the end of school a couple of weeks ago, Ben officially became a HS senior. We’ve already been on a few college visit excursions, with more to come in the months ahead. It won’t be long until it’s time for him to work on applications, essays, etc. This summer will be giving us all a taste of some of what’s to come, too. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it, but I don’t appear to have a choice!

Yesterday we dropped him at an academic camp at a school in Indiana, where he’ll spend the next two-plus weeks. He’ll be working on a project with a team of two or three other students, and they’ll write up their work and make a presentation at the end. Today he’ll figure out which project he’ll pursue and learn who his teammates will be. He’s not one for communication, but I hope we can pry out of him some information tonight. I am excited for him to have this chance. While I suspect he’ll figure out whether this is a college he might want to attend, what I’m really hoping for him is that he’ll learn some things about himself, make some friends, and experience at least a bit of success in his team’s efforts. My fear is that he keeps to himself too much, and I’m hoping this peer group will help him break out a bit from the shell I perceive him to have.

Ben was all too ready for Martha and me to leave. I get it to a large extent; I didn’t experience any homesickness when it was my turn to leave the nest. For the last year or so, he’s been letting us know in ways that vary in level of subtlety about his desire for more independence. I don’t doubt we hover too much—the curse of having only one child—but sometimes I wish he weren’t quite so forthright about it, would humor us a bit. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see his confidence and relative fearlessness about going forth in the world.  My guess is he’s going to need that.

His return from the Hoosier State won’t be the end of his time away this summer. He’ll be gone for two one-week periods in July for his work with National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), a Boy Scouts program. Three years ago, he was selected by his Troop to attend NYLT at our Council’s campground; in the years since, he’s been tapped to serve on its staff. This year, he has been invited to receive additional training at a NYLT Leadership Academy in the DC area. It’s a cool honor and I’m certainly pleased for him (and proud, too). But all told, this will be a month away from us over a seven-week period! Sigh.

On our return home last night, Martha and I stopped off in Batesville, IN for an early birthday dinner for her. We went to The Sherman (known prior to a renovation two years ago as The Sherman House). I’ve seen its billboards for over three decades now on my treks up and down I-74, advertising hotel rooms and authentic German dining. But until yesterday, I’d never been there.

With the remodeling came some change in menu: they now claim to be a combination German-American bistro/chop house. The German entrée offerings number only about a half-dozen. Unfortunately, they were out of schnitzel last night; we made do with stroganoff and the falscher hase. It was all pretty good, but I have to say that we were a little concerned at the start. We arrived at around 6:30, and no one else was dining! It took almost 30 minutes before anyone else showed up to eat, and maybe six or so other parties had arrived by the time we left. 6:30 didn’t seem that early to me, but maybe things are different in Batesville…

One reason I wanted to go to The Sherman (I was surprised to find it’s named after the Civil War general) was that it’s a place my parents frequented over the years. I suspect they started going during my time in Illinois, perhaps dropping by on the way home from visiting me.  They clearly enjoyed it, because they kept going back, maybe as often as annually. As Martha and I sat in one of the alcoves last night, I wondered: might this have been a table where they once dined?  Maybe I was just a little wistful over never having gone there with them. Just one more way in which I feel the loss.

So, I’m a little melancholy this morning. In just a bit, I’m back on the road to Cincinnati, for the funeral of the mother of a second cousin.  This cousin and I had just recently established contact on Facebook; we have a mutual interest in genealogy, so I’m hoping in the coming months we can fill in some holes for each other. For today, though, it’s a small show of support in his family’s time of grief.

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