They say change is healthy, and inevitable! So many transitions are taking place this month, I’m trying to keep my head above water to keep up with them all.
April is full of annual grant-making and scholarship activity here at the North Carolina Community Foundation. The boards that I serve are busy with their grants seasons, and my phone is continually ringing with nonprofits asking about grant opportunities. I enjoy working with the board members to evaluate the grant applications and make decisions on funding. And it’s exciting to see the projects the nonprofits are undertaking that need the boards’ assistance.
Some of these boards are celebrating anniversaries this year, and planning gatherings to honor their many years of grant giving and serving their communities. I applaud their accomplishments and love hearing their stories of past board members, grant recipients and the relationships they’ve built.
And as for scholarships, this month is such an intense season, with scholarship applications due and scholarship awards committee gathering to select the lucky recipients. I love reading the essays in the applications and imagining the lives ahead for these applicants. Am I reading the work of the next governor? The next state attorney general or U.S. Senator?
The changes going on in my private life can make the grants and scholarship rush seem snail-like by comparison. Maybe it’s because we recently had to put our elderly family cat to sleep and the house has become way too quiet, so my husband and I are talking about adopting another cat soon to fill that emotional emptiness. That change will be huge, I know, but I look forward to picking out a new pet to love. But the transition of mourning one pet while looking forward to a new one feels odd.
Or maybe it’s because I have a college senior at my house, who’s set to graduate next month (the commencement speaker is a former first lady – how’s that for mixing progress and nostalgia?) and who called me recently to tell me in a rush of excitement that he had just picked up his cap and gown. After hanging up I had to sit still for a minute and remember that heady feeling that four years of work was about to end with a name announced and short walk across a stage. I want to tell him, “Stop! Slow down! You’ll want to remember these last few weeks before everything changes for you!” But, like most sons, he ignores those claw marks on his ankles made by his sentimental mother.
Another change is that my brothers and I have been working on weekends to get our 40-year-old family beach house ready for sale. We’ve been doing a lot of repair jobs and cleaning out so that the house looks the best it can once it goes on the market. Recently the three of us met for a hard weekend of work, with no spouses or children, just the three siblings with tool boxes and old t-shirts. I tried hard not to slip into my bossy big-sister voice while we worked in various parts of the house. We were doing well with getting our work done, until we came to the linen closet. That’s the place where my father put various household odds and ends and my mother stored the linens, but also where she had stashed small bags of shells the grandchildren had collected on their many walks on the beach with her. I carefully stored those plastic bags to take back home and show my boys – a part of their history. The linen closet is also where she kept the old board games that we all used to play after supper. My brothers and I looked at each other as we pulled out Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble and the other classics we were raised on. None of us could bear to throw them out, so we divided them up as we would have the family silver – and we’ll treat them as such.
I have plenty of time to think about these milestones as I work outside in my gardens, happy that Easter has come and gone, that pollen season is finally waning, that my perennials are returning and that the changes in my yard are reflecting the changes taking place at work and at home.