Graduation Day came at last and our daughter was at the top of her class with a GPA of 4.0. Who could be more ready to graduate than the graduate herself? Who could be more proud of their daughter? (And more eager to be finished with tuition payments!)
Each grad was allotted just four tickets to the ceremony. Her older brother had to attend premarital counseling with his bride in NJ. Her youngest brother would be bored. Her grandmother couldn't handle the walking and stairs. That left her parents, grandfather, and younger brother to attend.
Having forgotten to buy flowers ourselves ahead of time, we joined the throngs of others who spent a pretty penny for roses on site. I chose yellow roses to match her hood, and because I adore them.
My dad was full of strength and energy. Several times I asked, "Daddy ,are you okay?" as we walked probably a half mile from the parking lot to the auditorium in chilly air. (I was the only one who'd brought a winter coat. So glad I did!) We were following a girl who was in cap, gown and 6-inch heels! Steve was shivering, but came out with a funny question . "I wonder...this would be like a Candid Camera gig or something...if they got an actor to dress up in cap and gown and then start walking quickly around campus, going nowhere? I wonder how long people would follow?"
The ceremony started at 10, and from the first strains of "Pomp and Circumstance," I felt that familiar lump in my throat. We saw Sarah round the corner in the mob of grads, and I felt little tiny tears in the corners of my eyes. I had a flashback to her kindergarten graduation when she donned a pink cardboard cap with pink tassel, tall and proud, waving to Mommy and Daddy. Back then her grandmother had missed the ceremony as well, because of a broken foot.
We were sitting in the nosebleed section, but that was okay. The panoramic view thrilled me. All the flags on the stage represented the different countries from which the graduates hailed. All the people who had some part to play in this moment were there, whether in body or in spirit.
The commencement speaker was a Baltimore philanthropist and adjunct professor (in his fifties, I'd guess) who received his honorary doctorate with humility and humor. "This is the first degree I've ever gotten. I love this country." He went on to say that he checked out the "Rate your Professor" online, and saw that he got a chili pepper. He bragged to his wife about it, and "she let me have my glory for about a minute, and then said, 'Calm down, Frank. Your daughter gave it to you." Except for grating Baltimore accent ,he was easy to listen to.
I hadn't replaced the battery in my good Nikon soon enough, so I had to rely on a small point-n-shoot. It was better than nothing, but for distance, not the greatest. It didn't lessen my enjoyment in the least.
It was cool when they asked all the alumni to stand. My husband and I rose. We were in the class of
1987 and took the stage in January of '88, babe in the womb as we'd been married in December of '86. Once again, I had a flashback of being very, very hot and wondered how many hours it would take to get to the end of the alphabet in a class of 800 graduates. Thankfully this time the room was cool, I was way past childbearing ability, and the class was about 250.
When they called her name, we yelled and stomped and clapped and "woo-hooed" our lungs out. My dad leaned over to me from the right and said, "I knew I should've brought the shofar!" My husband leaned over to me from the left and said, "Two down and two to go!"
Enough about the ceremony. Let's jump to the pictures.
With her loyal Christian friend, Kelly, from her cohort.
With her sweet, doting dad.
With her short, happy mama.
With her funny, supportive younger brother, Steve.
With her Pappaw (my dad).
The proud, happy, and cold family.
Congratulations, beautiful daughter. We love you.