Graduation is a beginning

My eldest daughter just received her Master’s of Education degree from Simon Fraser University, and I was there in the crowd watching as she and throngs of others paraded into the outdoor convocation hall.
Family and friends shivered under university-issue blankets while the graduates were piped in, the glorious sound echoing off the surrounding buildings.
Aimee wore a blue gown with a red-and-white collar, her cap perched on her head, the tassel dangling in front of her huge smile. And I couldn’t help wondering where the years have gone—a common complaint of mothers I realize.
Aimee marched by me and wiggled her fingers in the air, and she wore the same smile as she had when she graduated from diapers, when she learned to ride a two-wheeler, and when she could tie her own shoes; the same sparkling eyes as when she learned to skip double-dutch and when she passed her driver’s test.
Was this current achievement of hers any more pride-worthy? Did I feel any less awe for her then as I do now?
Life is full of graduating events. One successful end is the beginning of another step as though all of life is a stairway leading to somewhere we are called to go.
The speaker giving the convocation address said, “Commencement, by virtue of its definition, is a beginning or a start, and therefore graduation is not a destination but rather a journey.”
That has been said in regards to just about everything in life, by just about everyone, but it makes perfect sense.
The convocation ceremony included individuals receiving their Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education, a few doctorates, and various other degrees. The crowd of graduates included giddy youngsters in their 20s who looked as though they had it all figured out; some grey-haired individuals who looked suitably relieved knowing full well that there is no such thing as having it all figured out.
Aimee fell somewhere in the middle—understandably exhausted from the demanding balancing act required of a full-time teacher studying for her Master’s.
Aimee is an excellent teacher. There’s no bias on my part in making that statement. It’s a fact; teaching is part of her genetic make-up, passed on from her grandmother, my mother.
It must have skipped a generation because I would struggle to teach a fish to swim.
Aimee has an extraordinary ability to think outside the box, to accept the challenge of teaching those who come to a place of learning from a fragile foundation. Her ambition, as a young adult, was to save the children of the world—a lofty aspiration, but one she is keeping her sights on, one child at a time.
She agonizes over the lost ones, the children with broken wings. And she follows her heart for the solution, never falling into the rut of mediocrity. She is an example to her co-workers; a force to be reckoned with.
Aimee is the eldest. She has had to “break the trail” for the three coming behind her. She has had no one to watch for inspiration, no one to show her the way. She always has forged ahead, maybe not certain of where she is going but certain she wanted to go.
I wish her sisters had been there, sitting next to me and taking in the excitement and wonder of what’s next, what lies ahead.
Perhaps these graduation ceremonies are more for those cheering from the sidelines; our attendance helps us to examine the step we are on and where we are heading, gets us fired up again to move to a higher level.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet and essayist, has been quoted on most subjects, but he described Aimee when he said, “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
And Aimee has done just that.
wendistewart@live.ca

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