Recently, Chris and I drove two and one-half hours from Little Rock to Fayetteville, where our state’s flagship university, the University of Arkansas is located. Our first grandchild, Kennedy Lyn Hill was scheduled to graduate with a master’s degree. Her mom had made every effort to impress to celebrate this event. Along with Chris and I, there were family members from other parts of our state making the drive to Fayetteville, some farther than two and one-half hours. The ceremony was scheduled for 8:30 am on Saturday morning, a bit early as weekend events go.
You might think I’m strange, since I’ve only sat through one graduation ceremony of my own. That was high school. My mother was excited about the prospect of her oldest child graduating from high school. She some how came up with the money to pay for the class ring, the cap and gown and all the other entrapments that accompany the pomp and circumstance associated with graduation. As far back as I can remember, I have never cared much for pomp and circumstance, especially when I’m at the center of it. However, I couldn’t tell my mother how I felt about the graduation event. There were others in the family, who were looking forward to seeing me walking across the stage to receive my diploma.
When I went off to college, I worked hard to finish all requirements for graduation within four years. That accomplishment alone was sufficient for me. I had no powerful desire to walk across the stage. I was far more interested in looking for a job with my newly minted degree, versus submitting myself to a graduation ceremony. I left my college alma matter before the scheduled pomp and circumstance, and I requested that my degree be mailed to me. Nineteen years later, I avoided the pomp and circumstance again when I completed my requirements for receiving a master’s degree. Chris and I had been married for a little over six years by then. She, of course, couldn’t understand why I turned down the chance to walk across the stage again. It’s difficult to explain to anyone who’s not an introvert why…
Enough about me. This piece is more about the passing of time. The point in one’s life when they see that generation two tiers down from them accomplishing things that make you proud. I felt proud seeing Kennedy walk across that stage with hundreds of others. That event was one of many that I view as proof of countless blessings life has and continues to send my way. Of course, I’ve had two of my children to graduate college, one to receive a master’s degree, and I was proud of those life events. However, to see a grandchild receive a master’s degree is something altogether different. This is another one of those blessings I’ve been around to see despite my living with cancer for the last twenty-two years-plus.
Kenney’s next academic journey will be to peruse a PhD. Chris is working towards getting one of those herself. I suppose pomp and circumstance is available for us at any age. God’s will, I’ll be sitting in the audience for both Chris and Kennedy when they receive their PhDs.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.
A proud moment indeed. I still have my cap and gown and fur-trimmed hood hanging in the wardrobe. At the time I graduated from University, all graduate teachers wore their gowns when teaching and I expected to do the same. However, I went abroad instead where nobody wore gowns outside of law courts – and so my gown has remained in a pristine sate ever since!
Congratulations to you and your family of high achievers.
I guess I never thought of us that way. I just think there is an appreciation for educational achievement on the part of some of us. I learned long ago that education is one of those things that no one can take away from you.
Indeed. That is an aspect of education that is not emphasized enough. I know some POWs survive their ordeals by doing things like reciting poetry or passages from literature over and over to themselves. It was their education (and the brain power) that facilitated them having these bits of beauty to rely upon.
It would be interesting to learn what percentage of graduates actually choose to attend one of their graduations. Most people would prefer to avoid them and, if they attend, it is primarily to satisfy a parent, spouse, or other close relative. I attended my high school and undergraduate ceremonies but avoided my Master’s and PhD. As faculty, and required to attend, it became apparent just how meaningless all the speeches were. While all offered good advice, not one person attending probably remembered a single word of what was said ten minutes after it was over.
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