Bittersweet Graduation

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Graduation is bittersweet for graduates and their families.

It's a day they've looked forward to for years. To the graduate, it seemed like countless years before cap and gown day. Now that it's here, the graduate greets it with mixed emotions.

He/she is extremely glad he has reached this important milestone. But he is saddened too. He will be leaving favorite teachers and faculty he has grown to know during their daily classroom interactions. He will be saying goodbyes to classmates and best friends he has bonded with over the years. They sense that things will never be quite the same.

Much is expected from the new graduate.

He is challenged to make a difference in the world; to launch out and serve his fellow man. He feels a bit bewildered as he balances the expectations and the unknowns.

Some graduates will be college-bound. A few will enlist in the military. Others will enroll in Vo Tech and business schools. Some will marry soon after graduation. A few may not have made specific plans for the future.

Whatever the choices, the graduates will follow in the footsteps of many alumni who faced the same feelings and fears when they accepted their own diplomas.

They, too, felt pride, joy and exhilaration. Also there was fear, anxiety and expectations.

Parents, although proud to see their offspring accept his diploma, will be saddened because they know this is a signaling that change is on the way for all of them.

Ministers, parents, grandparents and friends will admonish the graduates to press on to a higher calling, to serve others and be true to their own convictions.

For sure, graduation day will be long remembered. I still remember my graduation over a half century ago. As the day drew near, I shopped for just the right dress and high heels to wear. There would be no jeans and sandals for the girls in my graduation class. No siree. We wanted to dress up on this very special occasion.

Of course, the graduation robe would cover the dress, but no matter, we wanted dressy clothes for the ceremony.

I have no idea what happened to that dress but I'm sure I wore it on many other special occasions. I do recall that the dress material was similar to that being displayed in catalogs today; semi-sheer, chiffon-like, feminine...

As I recall, at that time there were few if any scholarships awarded to individual graduates. But the top seven honor students wore gold shoulder braids on their sleeves and were given special recognition..

So, graduate, if you find that graduation is both bitter and sweet, remember one thing. There are always those future class reunions..