I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
I didn’t graduate from Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks, California, but many of the school kids I cared most about in my primary school days did. My mother died shortly after I graduated the eighth grade at Roberts Elementary School. I had been at that school since fifth grade. Though my mother died that last year at Roberts, I always thought of it as the best year of my childhood.
Many of those kids I had known for the longest period of my life that I knew anyone. I didn’t go with them to Bella Vista. I left Fair Oaks that summer after eighth grade graduation, after my mother’s death. I went to seven high schools, five of them in Southern California, and spent the first semester of my senior year in South Bend, Indiana, the second in Muskegon Heights, Michigan.
Seven schools, and I don’t remember the names of any of my high school classmates, not one. The kids at Roberts, who went on to Bella Vista, those are the children I remember.
Those are the ones I wondered about, all my days. What became of you, you bright-eyed little ones? Who did you grow to be? Did you become lawyers, doctors, corporate chiefs? Did you become flower children? Did you die in Vietnam?
I became the first, a criminal defense lawyer, but only after a long, strange trip to the courthouse via many roads, some less traveled and some so crowded I couldn’t breathe.
I nearly couldn’t breathe the other day, so full of pride was I when I watched my son cross a stage in Santa Barbara, California, at his own, university, graduation. There to congratulate him was his uncle, a professor emeritus and Antarctic explorer who just had a cold, cold mountain named after him.
Now I will wonder — though not with the melancholy of those lost friends of another graduation — what will become of him? What will become of my son? And my wonderment is warm, warm.