I see so very often photos that proud parents post of 
  • Baby's First Smile!
  • Baby's First Food!
  • Baby Walking!
  • First Day of School!
  • First Day Home From School!
  • First Vacation!
Well, you get the idea.  We all do it.  
What we seldom do is hold on to the Last's.  The last time you tuck your baby in bed.  The last time you read a bedtime story.  The last time you have to tie shoes.  The last time you hold an aged hand.  

My baby kiddo, the curly-headed monster that is more man than child, the one who only occasionally tucks his bulky frame under my arm so I can comb my fingers through his hair as I once did daily to lull his conjuring mind to sleep, is now the proud owner of a drivers license. 

16 years old. 

I find myself purchasing shirts for him that, to my eye, look about right but when he puts them on and shows me, it is evident I am woefully nostalgic:  the sleeves all end up about 3 inches too short and barely button across the shoulders.  He's like Randy from A Christmas Story: He can't put his arms down. 
What I see in my mind's eye

What is reality
A portion of the events of yesterday found us in the Secretary of State, getting this lanky boy his own drivers license.  He looked pretty much like what you see above, except with the addition of a flannel shirt.  I said, "Joe, they're gonna take a picture of you, you know".  He looked right at me and responded, "I know! That's why I wore my good shirt."   

I remember going to the Secretary of State with our first.  He was full of smiles, as any 16 year old would be, and we were a nervous wreck.  Things have settled down a bit and it was much more hum drum when I went through the process with Joe - I had everything short of mortgage papers and report cards lest I be wanting for any documents (because, well, we've made all the mistakes one can make at the Secretary of State through the years).  We posted pictures all over the place and texted family 5 years ago; yesterday went by with a quiet trip to the Old Pioneer Store and Emporium to celebrate and we have yet to even tell his brothers (although I'm sure he has). 

Joe is a capstone kid.  We found out we were expecting a new Beers boy (by then, we figured any baby that was coming was going to be a boy) shortly after we buried my dear Uncle Joe.  Their countenances vary in significant ways, but I believe there underlies a strong tie between the souls of Joseph Charles Gula and Josef Charles Beers.

So, too, was yesterday a capstone day.  After we left the SOS, we met up with my husband to say a prayer at the grave of my dear mother on the 3rd anniversary of death.  I couldn't help but ponder all the day long at how circular life and death always is.  Hope comes in the form of a little child or a piece of paper that give keys to the world. 

We bury, we Baptize. We rejoice and we weep.  The things that crucify us are the very things that raise us up. 

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  He was a great persecutor of the faith who was struck down and blinded by God.  Three years of prayer later he blossomed into what we know of him now: a fervent servant of Christ and great evangelist. I had a eye-opening transformation myself the first time I nervously descended the steep stairs to his cell outside of Rome.  As my eyes lit upon the tiny, dank, cold walls, they suddenly were open to what he, who was in literal chains but amazingly free, joyfully endured; sending letters and exhortations to those outside those walls who were free, but in spiritual chains. 

My mother did not live to see her Sugar Pie get his license and drive her to the beauty salon like most of the other boys were able to do.  That saddens me in a way that simply is beyond description. 

He does, however, take care of his grandfather in a way the other boys, who catered to their grandma, never were capable of doing for the mere fact that grandma loved an audience and the boys.  You can't haul wood when grandma wanted to watch the Rifelman. 

We all have the chance to be Capstone people - we just have to look, with clear eyes, at the majesty of the world around us.  If we are weeping, we must tuck into our grieving hearts that Hope and new birth are there, somewhere, and trust we will see it soon.  Likewise, if we are rejoicing, know that a searing pierce of the sword is sure to come and only the armor of God will stave off the wounds. 

Only in retrospect did I mark the last time I held my mom's soft hand and the last time I had to sign as guardian of a young driver.  It seemed poignant that they came on the same day. 


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