Michelle Martin

Last things

September 19, 2018

People — parents in particular — are always excited about first things.

First smile, first tooth, first steps. First day of school. Even first loves and first jobs and first cars.

It’s the last things that get away from us.

The last time a daughter needs help brushing her hair. The last time a son asks you tie his shoes. The last time the toy cars race around the kitchen table, or the last time you read “Goodnight Moon” aloud. You don’t know it’s the last time until weeks or months go by and you suddenly realize that’s not something you do anymore.

Maybe that’s why we invest so much in graduations. I know schools insist on calling graduation “commencement,” as if it’s all about the new things to come, but that’s not really true. New things are surely coming, but the graduation itself is a reflection on what has been accomplished and what is being left behind.

Frank is a senior in high school this year, so we know there are lots of last things leading up to graduation in June. We’re already in the midst of a big one — this is his last season of high school hockey, his last season of any kind of youth hockey.

There are things about it I won’t miss, like having the first game of the season at 7 a.m. on a Saturday in a rink 40 miles from home. Or sharing close quarters with a hockey bag (they reek).

But hockey has been a part of our family life for the last 10 years, even though Frank is the only one who plays. (We really tried to get Teresa interested — we have skates in almost every size — but she’s determined to beat her own path.) In some ways, hockey is like any other sport: What you get out of it depends on what you put into it, and kids who love it want to spend as much time as they can doing it.

But I think hockey demands more of a family commitment than many other sports if only because rinks are not in every neighborhood. Away games mean driving anywhere from a half-hour to an hour and a half, and you can’t carpool more than a couple of players because you have to have room for their bags and sticks too.

All that equipment means that they need rides to and from practice, even if they live close enough to walk or bike, as well.

That’s given us a lot of time to talk.

We’ve also taken pride in his development as a player, from his first season, when he could barely keep up with the other kids who had been skating a couple of years longer, to seasons when he has been among the fastest skaters on the team.

To everything there is a time and a season, and this season of our lives will come to an end. There will, of course, be new things on the horizon. But for now, it’s worth appreciating what we’ve had.



  • family life