a few thoughts on graduation…

08 Jun

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved.  The real milestones are less prepossessing.  They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave.  Our lives are measured by these.”  ~Susan B. Anthony

Sue – was not the hottest chick that ever lived.  In fact most people only remember her for being on the dollar coin with the stern faced babe that we all thought was a quarter half the time.  But, she was very wise.   We mark our lives by the events.  By birthdays and special days and things that happen once.  But the real milestones robin_graduate4are the moments we have locked away inside us.  My first memory of my daughter is not of her birth.  I was most definitely there – I cut the cord, mine, were the first hands of our family to hold her.  But those are just a few of many precious memories – not my first memory of her.  Because at that moment in time, at the moment of birth – she was not the woman I know today.

My first memory of my daughter, was the day she grabbed my hair and grabbed my ear – and sucked on my nose and giggled.  As moments go it’s not the prettiest.  I’m pretty sure she has no recollection of it.  But that is my first memory of her as a person, unique and defined, and fully capable of making a decision, and mischief all her own.  That is a memory.  I’ll always have it, and it will reside along side her first steps, her first words, her first day of school, her first playhouse, her first pet, her first dead pet, her first … you get the idea.  Her giggle was the sound of someone who knew what she wanted and knew she’d just gotten it.  No compromise.  No caring what anyone else thought on the subject… it was going to happen and there was nothing I or anyone else on this planet could do to stop it. 

That was the first time I really met my daughter – and it was wonderful. 

We, as a people have an obsession with someones “firsts”.  In fact, even graduations – which are actually celebrations of what has gone and what we have accomplished and completed – focus not on what the person has done but what they will do in the future now that they’ve graduated.  What new firsts will they have is apparently the gist of it.  When we’re supposed to be honoring the achievements that brought them to this brave new future.  We’re supposed to be honoring the journey – not the destination.  Often, with graduations we forget that.  Any journey worth going on is not easy.  If everyone could go there – why bother?  Well, Robin, was never one to take the easy road.  Not that she ever went out of her way to make her life more difficult – she didn’t have to.  She’s just never been one to let an obstacle get in her way.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”  ~Henry Ford

Robin, not everyone knows didn’t come into this world with the best of health.  She was born with a strep-b virus and for almost a week she required constant care, IVs, and a lot of work from doctors and nurses.  Often – these were not her assigned doctors or nurses, in fact the doctor that saved her life through this period stayed up with her for several days.  Changing from one vein to the next as they collapsed and he fought tirelessly to make sure she had the fluids needed to help orca_notefight the infection and survive.  We had very little money at the time, so you can imagine my surprise when the only bill we received from this doctor, was for the syringes and fluids.  I think from the time she was born, everyone knew that she was special.  She was not then, nor is she now, a child who dotes on “firsts”, she focuses instead on results in life and always has.  Her goals over the years have changed.  She for example, has not wanted to grow up to become a sled dog in Alaska named “Gus Yoshi” for many years.  😀

Nor does she still want to be a veterinarian, or an architect, or … well she is a teenager.  The world for her is still a moving target.  For now – she wants to go into International Studies with a Business Major.  Which is incredibly practical, and incredibly pragmatic… and I have to admit… I sometimes wonder if she wouldn’t be  happier if she still wanted to be “Gus Yoshi” the sled dog, or Babe the big blue ox.   She has always achieved goals and often even if they were hard.  So her wanting to join the ORCA program while still in high school  was not a big surprise to me.  Her completing it – also not a surprise.  ORCA is hard.  My daughter – is harder – always has been, always will be.  She has a strength – a depth of character that I’m pretty sure even she has no idea how deep it goes.  It goes beyond passion, and beyond perseverance,  and beyond stubborn.  When Robin decides she wants something – well – something gets done.

robin_graduate3For 17 years I have watched this child become a girl,and the girl become a woman.  I have seen her succeed, and fail, and live and love and laugh.  There is nothing more incredible that to be able to say that this woman, is perhaps one of my best friends – if not my best friend. 

I have seen her triumph and seen her tears.  She has been my rock – my anchor – my life. From the first time she climbed on top of me and grabbed my hair and my ear and chompped down on my nose giggling it has been a lesson every day for me.  If I had to pick the one lesson that she has taught me it is the lesson that you have to be true to you.  To live your own course, your own path.  She has taught me to live.  So today … is her day.  The day she graduates.  And I, am faced with the knowledge that soon… she’ll be on her own and gone full time.

But she will never be alone.  She will always have the very best part of me – my heart – with her.  I am not sure what course she’ll take over the next few months.  Whether its studies here, or somewhere else, what I can tell you is that where ever she goes, whatever she does, whatever life she chooses to lead… it will be, without a doubt a life without compromise. 

“There is just one life for each of us:  our own.”  ~Euripides

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Posted by on June 8, 2009 in Uncategorized


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