a life well lived

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Commencement 06/10/00

I always liked calling graduation "commencement" - a beginning. 

It is interesting that I can remember my high school graduation, which happened eons ago, better than my children's.  I expected all sorts of memories to wash over me and they have not.  Only one high school graduation memory stands out at this late date.  Their college graduations are, on the other hand, keen memories.

Peter, who graduated from Penn State, was the first of our graduates.  He really was a "big man on campus" at State College.  Interfrat president,  chairman of Spring Week (a big deal), member of Lion's Paw, winner of the Helen Eakins Eisenhower award for outstanding student at the College of Business Administration. 

I was familiar with the small, somewhat intimate graduations in Bryn Athyn; Peter's took place in a HUGE bigger-than-the-Field House place.   Although the logistics would have been impossible, I was disappointed that each graduate did not receive their diploma from the dean of their college.  Instead, each graduating college, including the College of Business Administration, was asked to stand up, the appropriate dean tipped  his mortar board to them, congratulated them on their graduation, and they picked up their degrees after the ceremony.  A bit deflating, until I caught sight of Peter outside and threw my arms around him for a big hug (which probably embarrassed him no end, but I could have cared less.)

Our next college graduate - many, many years later - was Elsa, from what is now called Bryn Athyn College.  What I remember most of that graduation was Mim getting Elsa out of bed at 5:00 am and the two of us taking her - blindfolded - out to breakfast.  All the way to the Du Pont Hotel in Wilmington, our favorite place for special celebrations.  Then Mim got us all back to BA in time for the 10:00 am graduation. 

As happy and proud as I was,  it was also a sad time because my beloved Pete was not there to share in the moment with me.  Peter, however, made sure to sit next to me and when Elsa's name was called and Bishop Pendleton handed her degree and shook her hand, Peter put his over mine and held it tight.  That was a wonderful, aware and caring thing to do and I will always remember it and his kindness. 

After getting her Junior College diploma from "BA Tech," Mim attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia and the University of Houston (in Texas, of course) and other interesting places.  She finally found her academic niche in a 3-year evening Bacherlors program at NYU for non-traditional students. There is nothing tradtional about Mim.  She completed her studies in 1981, but they somehow lost one of her grades.  Although she - and us - attended the graduation ceremony, she did not actually get her degree at that time.

What a graduation ceremony it was, held in Washington Square in the heart of Greenwich Village.  What pomp & pagentry.  A trumpeter a top the Victory Arch sounded the equivalent of Ruffles & Flourishes, opening the ceremony.   Mim was there, in traditional cap & gown, one of the few students who were.  The rest had decorated their mortar boards to a fair-thee-well. 

Two years later, the university finally just gave her a grade based on her previous work (A!) and she was invited to graduate AGAIN.  Again, the three of us headed up to New York and again it was a glorious day, only better because we knew what to expect.  This time, Mim had all sorts of pins decorating her mortar board,  including my personal favorite, "I is a brane."   She proved it conclusively when several years later, in her mid-forties, she received her Masters degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. 

Whitney is our Ivy Leaguer, graduating with a degree in theater design from Barnard  (Columbia University).  Peter and I headed up for the first of my grandchildren's graduations.  Her brother Reynolds was the next to get a degree, in journalism, from Denison in Ohio.  Peter represented me at that one, which was too far a stretch to make, much as I wished. 

Our most recent grad on this side of the world was Scott, who was, as fate would have it, the very first person to receive a degree from the newly renamed Bryn Athyn College.  It was lovely to watch my grandson receive his degree while I sat close by his proud parents. 

It is interesting that Mike, the most professionally successful of  my children, never got a college degree.  Then again, I have always said that he got his degree from the University of the World, the best of all institutions of higher learning.  

Of course, our B-Boy never graduated from college or high school or 8th Grade.  Ian died when he was in 5th grade, but his presence can be felt,  especially by Lockharts, in the Field House.  When his class would have been entering high school, Pete presented the Academy with a beautiful trophy case.  I remember gathering with Pete and the girls in front of the trophy case and Bishop Pendleton officially dedicating the "Ian Scott Lockhart Memorial Trophy Case" and Pete attaching a brass plaque with that very inscription on the beautiful wood.  We recently saw the trophy case in its new place of honor in the "pumped up" - renovated - Field House.  The plaque is gone, but a small rectangle of discolored wood still shows where it once was.  Ian's spirit will always be associated with that case, if only to our family, and it makes me happy to know it is in the same building as ANC graduation.

Our two graduations on the other side of the world - Australia - included Kerry's some years back, when she received a Master's level degree in some key aspect of nursing,. A picture of her in her graduation regalia, surrounded by her proud family, has a place of honor in my bedroom.  My granddaughter, Karen, graduated just last year, with a degree in Graphic Arts.  I was not there physically for either, but certainly in spirit.

One high school graduation memory does stand out - Mim's Senior Dance.  I do not know if they still have a Senior Dance, put on by the Juniors, or if the Seniors still process in to present their banner, sing their class song and announce the teacher they dedicated their yearbook to, but they did when all our kids graduated. 

Pete and I took Elsa, who was 10 at the time, up to the Field House for the presentation ceremony.  As the Seniors processed in - the girls in their beautiful white gowns and the boys daper in tuxedos - and we saw Mim, I became aware that Elsa was quietly weeping.  David Simons, who was standing on her other side, looked down at her in surprise, somewhat alarmed.  "What are you crying for?" he asked, "This is a happy time."  I will always remember that 10-year old girl turning to this adult and quietly explaining,  "Things will never be the same."  That was all she said.  How she knew what lay ahead I do not know.  All these years later, I still wonder how an child  of ten could sense - and express - sadness at seeing and accepting the inevitable.  

My apologies for a ramble down family memory lanes.  It does my heart good to remember such special moments but I do realize it might all be a yawn to the rest of you.. 

Good night, my dears - Mum Lockhart 

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