BILLY’S BIG DAY
January 10, 2014
My mother disappeared on the last day of school—the day I was to graduate from sixth grade. My father was at work and my sister and brother were waiting at home for Mom to bring them to the graduation ceremony, so I had no one to watch me graduate or to bring me home. It was all over and the schoolyard was empty by two o’clock when my home room teacher, Mrs. Loman, walked out to talk to me.
I was sitting on the swing, barely swinging, and thinking about the newspaper headline- BILLY’S FAMILY WIPED OUT IN A CAR WRECK MISSES GRADUATION CEREMONY. Mrs. Loman took the swing next to me. “Your father will be here to pick you up soon and your brother and sister are still at home. The only person we can’t account for is your mother. I saw the newspaper headline in my mind; BILLY’S MOTHER KIDNAPPED—MISSES GRADUATION.
The principal walked out of the building and took the swing on the other side of me. She took a healthy couple of swings and then skidded to a halt and handed me an envelope. “This was left at the front office for you.” The envelope had been opened and the flap now tucked back inside. I read the card. HAPPY GRADUATION and it showed a cap and diploma on the outside. Inside was printed NOW ON TO HIGH SCHOOL and there was a hand drawing of a fork with one prong leading to a school and another leading to a question mark. “Billy, I decided that I took the wrong fork years ago and now I’m going back to see where the other fork takes me. Love, Mom. P.S. I watched you graduate—I was standing under the big oak next to the playground.”
Both Mrs. Loman and the principal had tears in their eyes as I put the card back in the envelope , got off the swing, stuffed the card in my back pocket and walked towards the front of the building to wait for my father who never showed up.
Mrs. Loman gave me a ride home but we stopped off for ice cream sodas first.