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Jun 232013


Thoughts on life’s graduation moments as my nephew graduates from high school

Graduations are times to celebrate achievements, say goodbye to one stage of life, and anticipate the next chapter.

This weekend my nephew graduated from high school, the same school I graduated from many years ago, the same school his father and mother graduated from a few years later, the same school his sister graduated from last year.

According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the verb graduate means “receive an academic degree or high school diploma”. It can also mean “mark out in degrees or parts” and “apportion according to a scale”. If we think about the stages of our lives, there are many graduation points to mark. Points of celebration, points of saying goodbye, points of new growth.

Other than the completion of an education program, the more obvious “graduation” points in life include job changes, moves, marriage, the birth of a child, a child leaving home, a child’s marriage, paying off a mortgage, the birth of a grandchild, and retirement. And there are others, perhaps outwardly less obvious, perhaps unique to your situation, but significant. And while each point is a moment to cherish, the work, the changes, or personal growth celebrated in the moment occur in the space between the points.

School graduates celebrate their achievements with a mixture of relief, joy, pride, sadness, fear, and anticipation. Their moments are indeed unique and special. And, at the same time, part of a familiar cycle, as life flows on from generation to generation.

The valedictorian address at my nephew’s school is jointly delivered by a female graduate and a male graduate. My nephew was male valedictorian. He did a fantastic job, a success that seems particularly sweet when I remember the preschool-aged boy whose speech was indecipherable to all but those closest to him. His sister translated. He worked with a speech therapist during his first years at school.

As a young child, my nephew spent at least a couple days a week at my parents’ house. In kindergarten, when time came for his first parent-teacher interview, he wanted to take his grandfather. He graduated on what would have been his grandfather’s, my father’s, ninety-second birthday if he were still alive. A timing that seems fitting as the circle of life continues. 



What are your thoughts about life’s “graduation” moments?

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