Monday, May 15, 2023

Graduation Season


It is graduation season, and our lives are filled now with endings and beginnings. I never let graduations pass me by, I always enjoy them. This year is no exception.

I spent Saturday with the Trine graduates. It is always so joyful watching the seniors graduate. The same seniors I had as freshman. Oh, how they have changed and been challenged these four years. They are ready to take on the world. As they passed by me on Saturday, I gave a nod of approval or a thumbs up, or even just a nod to say, “Well done, my friends, well done.”

This year graduation is bitter sweet for me. This is the year Jonah graduates from high school. For some reason, and I really don’t know why, I never thought about grandchildren growing up. This is a new phenomenon for me…I just thought they would always be kids. Lucky for me Abe has four “kids” yet for me to love on. If you have followed this column for years, you know lots about Jonah. He stayed a little pint for a long time as he thought he would never grow. All his friends were well over a head taller than he was, but then one day, he just grew up overnight. Now he is taller than his dad. My studio is still filled with photos of him as a little fellow. I still see that in him when I look at him. I still see that in him when he drives over to chat or show me something. I still see that when I take photos of him for the prom. I will always see that.

Of course, I wonder if my grandparents thought this about me? I am not really sure, and if so, they certainly never told me so. Of course, my grandparents were old, right? Not me, surely! But, alas, alas…here we are.

My Airbnb has been filled with Trine parents of graduating seniors. One set of parents, Penny and Dale, have stayed with me sixteen times over the course of four years. Their daughter, Lainie, just graduated from Trine. Lainie was on the figure skating team for Trine, and Penny never missed a performance. Once, while she was visiting, I came home to an entire living full of skating costumes. There were sequins and threads of all colors strewn from one end to another as she repaired costumes for the skaters. We had to say good-bye on Sunday as our time together is now over. I always looked forward to her visiting so it was hard to say farewell. That is all in the business of Airbnb, but I love meeting friends for life.

Other parents were here as well as they found storage units for all the cumbersome articles too big for the trip ride or flight home. Refrigerators, chairs, microwaves and a plethora of other stuff found in a college dorm room are now packed away until the fall migration begins.

Last night I biked through campus. Everyone gone, and the parking lots are empty. The flowers still bloom even if the students are not here to see them.

I came home and stood in my front yard under my absolutely magnificent crabapple trees. They were splendid this year with thousands of blossoms. Once a year they bloom, and I just can’t get enough of their beauty. But, once again, it is fleeting, and as I stood under the trees, the wind picked up. I was covered in blossoms along with my sidewalks and porch. Hundreds of other blossoms were picked up by the wind and scattered all through my neighborhood. I had to smile thinking about my students scattering across the world as well as jobs and post-graduate work will take them all across the United States and even internationally. Godspeed.

As Trine wraps up, our local high schools are just at the beginning of ceremonies, announcements, awards and, in reality, the rites of passage to our students.

I would love to be a commencement speaker because of all the things I want to tell these young people…including Jonah.

Terry Bradshaw touched on a few of these on Saturday. “Smile. Be kind. Shake hands,” he said. I will add a few comments of my own. Be curious. Be willing to go the extra mile for your co-workers and your family, love this life, and always be appreciative. Always.

As the poet Robert Browning (1812-1889) once said, “Love is the energy of life.”

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