Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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June 21, 2013

'The Graduate - Again and Again'

That title, “The Graduate,” brings memories of a beautiful tree-lined stretch of highway south of San Francisco where the Dustin Hoffman movie hero rode a desperate ride to claim his bride.

Now I’ve reached the stage of grandparenting where many, less-hazardous graduations are happening. Last year was the first eighth-grade graduation we attended – amazing for the green gowns and caps that kept slipping. I felt happy and challenged, “How can I be as close to this ninth grader as I once was to her when she was three?”

I’m challenged with more graduations this year. My husband was a real trooper and went to California for graduations of two grandsons – one eighth grade and one high school – and for the high school graduation of a stepgranddaughter-to-be. Then we met in Seattle for the graduation of a grandson from eighth grade.

I missed the first three but was most sorry to miss the one where the students had been asked for a personal thought to share – and those came on, recorded, at the graduation. Of course we liked it because this young woman said she was happy that her mother’s marriage would bring her into our son’s family! The one graduation I attended was special in that it was totally planned by the students themselves, with only one brief adult appearance on stage. Very impressive.

The most special part of these graduations for me is that they mark a new stage, a new opportunity, in my relationship with the grandchild. That has not been my strong suit. I have a hunch that many of you are in graduation season now, too, and may face the same challenge.

Graduations were big in my family because education was big. For my mother it was a given that we would all go to college. My father, however, claimed that he couldn’t remember whether he got to second grade or sixth grade at Sunnyside Country School. After his death, my mother and many leaders at Iowa State College/University agreed that since he’d been an agriculture leader it would be appropriate to have an ag lectureship there in his name (especially since he’d earned the money to fund it).

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