PhotoCredit: Wikimedia Commons
I graduated high school just a few weeks shy of my 18th birthday. Compared to other kids my age, this was almost a year early, thanks to a summer spent in history class.
Yeah, I was that kid. Most kids avoided summer school like the plague.
Not me. I went to summer school by choice. I just wanted to graduate early and be done with school.
It wasn’t that I hated it. I just thought it was a colossal waste of time.
Time in school for me was a waste because I could have spent that time reading or writing. You see, I was an aspiring author in my formative years.
It had been that way since my 5th grade English class.
While in high school, starting from about thirteen years old until I graduated, I also worked weekdays for a local daycare center.
Or at least I thought I was working. My parents divorced when I was thirteen and my dad arranged for my sister and I “to work” at the daycare center.
I didn’t find out until several years later that my Dad actually paid for us to go there plus extra so we would get a paycheck.
Well played, Dad, well played.
But I loved the work and the kids so much, by the time I found out the truth, I didn’t care that much about the deception.
I decided I wanted to be an early childhood or elementary education teacher. That meant going to college to get my degree.
The year I graduated high school, the daycare center closed indefinitely. At the request of parents, I watched about five of the kids from the center at my house all summer long.
Partway through that summer, my entrepreneurial fire was lit. What if I could run my own business and go to college in the off hours?
My parents made me go away to college
To get my degree, I wanted to attend the local community college. It was only 30 minutes away. I could live at home.
But my parents, especially my dad who I lived with full-time since my parents had divorced, wouldn't hear of it.
Back then, the late 1980’s, community college were seen as for kids who couldn't make the grades to get into university.
So my parents decided I would go away to a four-year college.
There was no changing their minds. It wasn't up for discussion. They were paying for it.
If I wanted to go to college, I had to go away from home.
That's how life was back then. "As long as I'm footing the bill" was akin to "as long as you live under my roof."
Kids did as they were told to do, whether they liked it or not. There were so many rules back then.
You ate everything on your plate at dinnertime or you went hungry.
Dressing up meant dresses for girls and dress pants and ties for boys.
In fact, I can remember how scandalous it felt to wear dress pants for my eight grade school trip to D.C. just a few years prior to graduation.
And even in high school, most of us had to wear belts if we had belt loops on our pants and the included jeans.
Parents then meant well, I can see that now.
I digress. Let’s talk about my grandpa.
Below is Grandpa Elvis with 3 of his granddaughters, that’s me with the pigtails
Grandpa Elvis was the first person I told when I didn't want to go away to college.
He told me that I could handle it because I "was his number 1 granddaughter", something he called me often because I was the first born grandchild.
He also said if I needed him all I had to do was call and he'd be there in a "hickomosquat".
I had no idea how long that was, but it made me laugh.
When I went away to college, he and Gram would send postcards and letters regularly. I loved getting those letters from home.
They would tell me about a weekend trip they'd taken, like to Hershey, PA or to see the Native American Indian mounds.
Sometimes they each wrote separate letters so I would get two in one week.
Grandpa would always sign his postcards "Elvis" in large loopy writing.
When I asked him once why he didn't just sign it Grandpa, he said "hey, I want you to be able to show your friends your postcards from Elvis".
Grandpa Elvis died of cancer not long after my second child was born. I’m grateful my son got to meet him.
I wish my youngest two girls could have met him.
They would have loved him and he would have kept them in stitches from laughter on a daily basis, I’m sure.
Losing my grandfather was a huge loss for me.
But I take comfort in the fact that I believe he's up there with the real Elvis. Wherever “up there” might be and whatever that may look like.
And if I know Grandpa, the first thing he did was challenge Elvis to a sing-off!
Maybe even a dance off since he was also fond of dancing and he’s no longer in pain.
And I bet as soon as he figures out how to send me one, I'll get another postcard telling me all about it.
And signed with love from Elvis in great big loopy handwriting.