I feel like it is a farewell tour of sorts.

My wife remarked that this week would be the last parent-teacher conference we attend for our daughter.

In what seems like a never-ending whirlwind of lasts that next fall will turn into a first, I feel I am constantly being reminded Claire is graduating high school.

And every time I am reminded, it still seems a little unbelievable.

I was talking earlier this week to a dad whose son's baseball team was playing Columbus, and we were discussing how hectic spring and summer are and how we wouldn't change it. The conversation drifted to what we are going to do when our kids are off in college and what will take up our time.

Neither one of us have any hobbies, unless traveling to ballfields across the state is a hobby, so next stop is boredom.

But before I reach the empty nest stage of my life, I am focused on the dwindling days until Claire graduates, and then there will be one quick summer before she is off to college.

Although there is a constant whirlwind of activity in our home between planning for the big day, planning for next fall's big day and just making sure the day-to-day stuff is taken care of, there is little time to actually stop and think about how the lives of four people will change.

The person who has probably thought the least about this is my son, Alek.

But kids do not think about such things. They live their lives in a vacuum, worried only about the present.

But he has never known life without his big sister. From days of calling her "Sissy," to days of barely talking, it's all the life of siblings and their interaction.

Life will change for him as he becomes the only child for a couple years.

More dirty dishes and housework awaits him.

He looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned how different it would be for him. He said they hardly see each other anyway. But even though there are days I barely have time to get caught up with what's going in Claire's life, I still know one of these days we will talk.

It will be August before the finality of Claire leaving will hit me. On days she is gone at work or out with friends, I try and imagine that this will be what our house is like when she is a college student.

Imagining won't come close. All I have to do is look in her room, with the clothes scattered on the floor, or see her presence throughout the house to realize she is still home.

Until then, I will be occasionally taken aback with reminders that sooner rather than later she will pack up and start the next phase of her life.

Claire already is starting to ask about how late her curfew will be this summer and if she'll have one when she comes home during college breaks.

I laugh a lot.

I know she is anxious to get going and move on with her life. We all went through that.

It won't be until later that she will realize she had it pretty good at home.

It won't take me nearly that long to realize it was pretty good having her at home all these years.

But until then, at least Alek has someone to share the dishes and housework with.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.