Our high school’s award winning marching band, of which I’ve written a few times, ends every rehearsal with a lustily shouted chant, most of which I’ve never been able to clearly understand, but the final part of which is the phrase “With Pride,” repeated three times (I think).

Today I am just filled to overflowing with pride.

It struck me, hard, while standing, singing, in church, next to one daughter, holding my granddaughter, and watching on stage as my youngest son, not an especially avid singer, was on stage with about 20 other high school seniors, leading singing on our church’s Senior Day. My granddaughter’s mother and her husband stood along the row along with my (gorgeous) wife of exactly 34 years. My only missing child was in Oklahoma, simply too tired from work to make the 3 hour drive to attend with us, although he made it very clear that he desperately wanted to be here with us.

At that moment my heart almost exploded with pride. In my children. In my grandchild. In my wife. In my life and what I’ve accomplished.

You see, in addition to my son, there were six more of my children on that stage. Some were my economics children, some were my precal children, some I’ve known for almost as long as my son has been alive. But they really are all my children in a way – at least it felt that way.

Then later, as we were out running errands, I got a call from my son in Oklahoma alerting us that tornadoes were in the area and were threatening my in-laws house. That he was paying attention and that he cared enough to text his grandparents and to let us know what was happening filled me with more pride. As the day went on more tornadoes formed, but not after directly threatening him and his apartment. In fact we believe the storm went right over him and the tornado dropped out of the clouds about a mile after it went over his apartment. I call that the power of prayer. But through both tornado scares I was on the phone with him, relaying information and helping him to deal with the fear that threatened him. After the storm passed, he sent me this message: ” It’s nice to know that even if we live hundreds of miles apart, you’re right by my side when I need it. Thanks and I love you.”

Then we had the Senior Night dinner at my church and I watched a few pictures of my fine young man’s life flash by on a screen during a slide show, and I thought about what an awesome young man he is. My daughters were there with Kerry and me, putting all else aside for an entire Sunday to honor their younger brother. That’s not easy or a small thing especially when there is a four-month old involved.

I really haven’t shed a lot of tears at my children’s graduations even though I normally cry at the drop of a hat. But today I cried often. But these aren’t the tears of sadness or loss, not tears bemoaning aging or the moving on and moving away of my children.

These were tears shed because I was simply overflowing with pride. Pride in every single member of my family. Pride in who they are and what they are. Pride that my wife built this family and life with me and that she finds me worthy of her, even when I don’t think I am.

I am just so very proud tonight. Who am I to be so blessed by my God?