It wasn't just another Senior Night. For Pam and me, it was our last.
Our youngest daughter Erin, a senior basketball player at Marshall Academy, and the other seniors and their parents were recognized Friday night during the next-to-last home games of the season.
Already this year we'd experienced Senior Nights for soccer and football (Erin as a cheerleader).
Last Friday night definitely made me pause and think.
I thought about the surprise I received in July 2001 when Pam called me during my first week on the job here and said, "Are you sitting down?"
She was in Laurel, from where we were relocating, and I knew she had not been feeling well and was going to the doctor. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect what was coming next, "I'm pregnant."
Emma was about to start fifth grade and Andy second. We had not planned on a third child.
Initially stunned, we started adapting our family's plans.
Then on January 1, 2002, three months before her due date, I rushed Pam to the hospital. Erin survived a scare, born weighing just 2 lbs. and 2 ozs. The doctors and nurses at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo will forever be a part of our hearts.
I remember telling folks back then, "When Erin graduates high school, I will be 58 years old."
Well, that day of getting her diploma is just a few months away. I guess that will be the next day I really reminisce.
Also, last Friday night, I thought about the number of MA sporting events I've attended supporting Emma, Andy and Erin. I could never count them. It's a lot a whole, whole lot.
I thought about the many, many miles we've traveled and the gas money we've spent.
Most schools MA typically plays in sports are not close by. We're talking an hour and a half, two hours or sometimes more, a lot more, away.
But, believe me, every mile, every dollar, every late night was well worth it.
I remember being in Monroe, La., at River Oaks School for a baseball playoff game that didn't finish until nearly midnight. Then we drove back.
I remember track meets in Jackson, soccer in Yazoo City and basketball tournaments at Brookhaven. The list goes on and on.
Also last Friday night, I looked up in the stands and around the gymnasium and saw lots of friends and teachers and coaches who have helped mold the Burleson kids over the years in the gym, on the fields, in the classrom and beyond. I wish they all could have been there, so I could have personally said, "thank you."
I loved sports, and I was a decent basketball and baseball player in high school. But I wasn't great. I had no chance of a scholarship.
I had always hoped my children would want to participate in sports. All three have.
Pam and I have been the first to stress good grades to all our children. But sports have helped mold them, too.
It was with great pride Friday night that I witnessed our third child being honored for being a senior and always giving it 110 percent on the basketball court. She has a lot of grit. She's tough. That, no doubt, comes from battling for her life in NICU for weeks after birth. She's a blessing.