I recently attended the high school graduation of my No. 1 godchild. It was a day about which we’d all long dreamed.
All signs indicated that she had completed her classes and assignments even if that took a couple of all-nighters on the part of her parents to achieve. Now the reward was at hand. She would walk down the carpeted path to a diploma, the key that would open the door to her future.
The ending of No. 1’s high school career had already had a rocky moment. Her memories in her senior yearbook had been inadvertently omitted. But we all were able to overlook that little glitch as we filed onto the field to watch her make that first momentous transition into adulthood.
Her grandparents and I arrived there with her father first. Her mother would bring up the rear. As grandmom and I sat there enjoying the feel of the late afternoon sun shinning directly into our eyes, I suggested jokingly that we look for No. 1’s name in the program to make sure she hadn’t been pulling our legs about graduation. Grandmom smiled and pulled out the program. I watched as her finger went up the page and down it and then back up it again. About the third time her finger made that trip, I found myself getting nervous. But I figured she was just making her own joke. Then I looked into my program. No. 1’s name was not there.
I was honestly unaware that dad could still move as fast as he did, leaping over loudspeakers and large floral bouquets as he ran towards the principal to get some confirmation that his daughter’s name had only be inadvertently omitted and that she was, in fact, graduating. The principal apologized profusely for the error and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Mom was not as easily relieved when she arrived and we told her of the error. Since the ceremony was about to start, however, she accepted the news with the stoicism evident in so many mothers of teenagers.
Mom and I pretty much sobbed our way through the ceremony. In fact, I didn’t make it through Pomp and Circumstance before I was weeping. Then No. 1 started crying which only made mom and I cry harder. Pretty soon dad looked like he wished he could find another place to sit. Of course, that could have had something to do with the giant loudspeaker in front of us. I still have the sounds of the processional reverberating in my ears.
And then it was over and No. 1 was officially launched as an adult. As we got up to leave, grandmom handed me the invitations we’d received that gave us access to the reserved seats for graduates’ families. She wanted mom to have them so that even if No. 1’s name wasn’t in the program, mom would have something concrete to commemorate the day. I looked down at the invitations as I passed them along. The last name was spelled wrong.
Mom wasn’t as stoic about the mistake this time. She turned to the chairs we’d been sitting in which had papers taped to them with the family name printed (correctly) in bold black letters and ripped one off. As she left the field clutching the paper, she was heard to mutter “At least I’ll have this”.
The rest of us walked quietly behind her. Sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone.