The Keys quadruplets from a small town in Oklahoma all received scholarships to Baylor University in Texas, and on this day in 1937 graduated together, recognized as the first set of quads to graduate college.
That was a good idea Mr. and Mrs. Keys had, sending their girls to the same school. And it certainly was a bonus they were given full ride scholarships. Quadruplets going to multiple universities, and changing their majors and switching schools, and paying as you go makes the whole process of getting your quadruplets educated way more complicated than one might prefer. (One, namely, me.)
For some silly reason, in the fall of 2011, when my four were college bound, the three universities they’d chosen to attend decided to start all their freshmen on the same day. That meant we’d need to somehow get four people delivered and abandoned, oops I mean launched, all on the same day. After eighteen years of intensive, full-time, all-consuming parenting, in one single, action-packed day, I had to say good-bye to all four of my kids.
The school that was farthest away was in Wyoming. So we needed to get there first and start the process of delivering kids down the east side of the Rockies to check into their dorms. Earliest check-in was at 7:00 a.m. at University of Wyoming. So that was our goal. That way we could put the longest drive in while it was still dark and end up at the front door the minute the doors opened. We loaded the van and my sister’s pick-up to the brim, trying to keep each person belongings together and packed in the opposite order of arrival, and we rolled out at 4:00 a.m. At UW, we dropped Pierce off in a whirlwind of activity, identifying what was his among the cargo and hauling it all up many flights of steps (the elevators are not really usable on freshmen move-in day), getting his bunk set up, meeting his roommate, and all that stuff you normally do with your first freshman as you savor and process the milestone—all flash-packed into about fifteen minutes, because you have to hit the road, drive an hour, and do it all over again with the next one. With a quick “Good-bye,” I bucked up, tried to smile, and faced the next leg.
An hour later in Fort Collins, we did it again with Charles. Then an hour later in Boulder, we did it again, this time with both Molly and Spencer—at two different dorms in two different parts of town, but with car trouble complicating things and other logistical difficulties adding completely un-needed and unwanted stress. And it was so stinkin’ hot. I could barely cope. With a time crunch to get people where they needed to be for mandatory dorm meetings and check-ins, we had a hurried good-bye with little prep, and suddenly, everyone was gone, it was over, and we’d given away all our kids.
We couldn’t leave town right away because of the car trouble and the heavy Boulder/Denver rush hour traffic, so we went to a restaurant to get food. And I sat there and just cried. It was an emotionally draining day, to say the least. I couldn’t necessarily express exactly why. It just was. A huge change, a new direction. It took many weeks to adjust, with waves of grief hitting me at unexpected times. But after a while, I adjusted and got used to the new way of life.
Fast forward four years to last year when two of the four graduated. Though they walked on different days, which complicated logistics a bit, it worked out. At least they were in the same town. I’d worried after that difficult day of delivering them as freshmen that they’d all graduate on the same day in different towns/states and I’d have to miss someone’s ceremony. So I can be grateful for switching majors. Pierce just finished a five year stint, and so he graduated a couple of weeks ago, allowing us to linger in one town and enjoy the activities. Molly is on a trajectory toward the seven year college plan, or more, if she continues with grad school as planned. So I’m not even going to pencil in a save-the-date yet.
I’m glad all that is behind us now. Now we just have to find jobs for these educated college graduates. A whole new challenge. Easier said than done. But at least we’ll probably never have to do the same thing for all four again, all on the same day. That’s okay with me!
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