Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
Well, Keaton John Ruble, you’re achieving one of those life “road markers”.
It’s not unique, mind you because there are 400+ students at your high school graduating with you.
But you have survived, to revel briefly at this juncture and then to move on with your life.
I am reminded that you are graduating high school 100 years after both of your great grandfathers, Teddy Eugene McClaran and John Francis Foster were born.
I’m glad you got a chance to know “Papa Ted”.
I know you’re headed to I-U in the fall but I think there’s not a real clear path you have in mind…yet.
Just be honest to yourself and seek something that you enjoy.
At your age, I had that “Vietnam War” thing forcing my choices and that’s how I wound up in the U.S. Air Force after graduating Career Academy School of Famous Broadcasters.
I always thought that school name was somewhat presumptuous.
I’m going to put a plug in for the military because it will give you a way to make a living while you prepare for your future life.
Your Grandma and I grew up pretty quick after we were married and visited exotic ports of call like Wichita Fall, TX, and Selma, AL and she spent a year with her parents while I was in Greenland when your Momma was born.
We met people and experienced life on our own that shaped our beliefs and opinions today.
The biggest thing to remember is to find something you would do even if you didn’t get paid.
If you like it, you’ll be happier.
However, you will still have days that you will emphasize with ax murders even with jobs you love.
But if you can be 50.1% to the good, even on those days, you’ll be better for it.
I have some special memories of you when you were growing up.
I remember watching you in the rear-view mirror while we waited to pick up your older brother after school.
We’d play goofy word games and your older sister was as quick as a whip with replies.
I’d see your face and while the “wheels” were turning, you were usually just a beat or two late to come up with the answer.
You’d blurt out a response out of frustration, and that became sort of your trademark.
But you listened and learned.
Then recently when you said a dinner roll tasted like Grandma Marcie’s house smelled, I knew you had reached a significant milestone.
You learned while listening.
Remember when you and I would get in that big tub of Legos and you would build those elaborate firearms?
I was General Grandpa and you were Colonel Keaton and you always had to show me where the “boolets” went.
Remember the trip to the landfill that we finished up with some hard-packed ice cream?
That might have been the best ice cream we ever had.
How about the badger in the woods between your house and mine?
We never actually saw one but I think he might still be there lurking in the underbrush.
But as we learned in “Blazing Saddles”, “we don’t need no stinkin’ badgers.”
As I look nearly eye-to-eye with you now, I remember the day your Dad stepped off the bus after returning home from Iraq.
As we headed to the cars to go home, your Dad picked you up and you clung to him like iron filings to a magnet.
You were not going to let go.
Now, your Mom and Dad, brother and sister, Grandma and Grandpa have to let go, just a little bit.
It’s probably the hardest part of parenting and grandparenting.
How soon we forget the 3:00am feedings, the seemingly endless supply of dirty diapers, runny noses (the infamous “Booger Sucker?) and the Cheerio placed on your nose.
You learned to play a pretty mean trumpet which is important in this musical family and I look forward to you and your sister perhaps being together on the floor for a “skull session” this fall.
(It’s a near-religious experience for your Grandpa!)
I hope you and your classmates were paying attention to the adults in charge as you were growing up.
We never make all the right choices so I hope you’ll learn from our mistakes and make this place a little better than you found it.
We are proud of you, Class of ’22 and we hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of your good efforts.
It won’t be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.
Just remember, if you screw up, we can always put another Cheerio on your nose and take pictures.