I remember it well.
Her father and I watched and waited and watched and waited some more.
I was grateful our last name started with ‘M,’ but still it seemed to take forever.
Finally, there she was.
She was small of stature and her tiny frame was almost obscured by her pastel blue ‘Gone with the Wind’ type dress.
We were so proud. We clapped and cheered and nudged each other and said, “look at our girl, isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she smart? Didn’t we do good?”
Our words were, of course, echoed by hundreds of other parents crowded into the school gymnasium. No doubt, it was echoed by parents and grandparents in many community centres and gymnasiums in many other towns and cities all over Canada.
High school graduation. It is a big deal. And so, it should be. When those kids step off that stage, high school diploma clutched tightly in hand, who knows where they’re going? Who knows what the future holds? Well, we all know what the immediate future holds, of course, and that usually involves a party.
But this year things have changed.
This year, the year of COVID-19, things are different.
Parents and grandparents will not be gathered in crowded gymnasiums to share that one moment in time with their grads.
The coronavirus changed that. It has changed a lot of things.
This year, 2020, my oldest granddaughter graduated from Notre Dame High School.
And, once again, my heart is bursting with pride.
And, once again, we celebrated.
And, once again, my husband and I nudged each other and said, “look at her. Isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she smart? Didn’t we do good.”
But this time, the graduate did not walk across the stage to receive her diploma.
Instead, she obligingly transformed her blue jeaned self into a lovely young lady in a beautiful gown with a sweeping black skirt and low cut flowered bodice and graciously walked about in the lush green grass in her parents’ back yard so we could all share in this one moment in time that will never come again.
It was a small, but magical graduation party.
The air smelled like summer, fresh and green and full of promise. Gentle notes of laughter played a delightful tune that drifted lightly over the back-yard fence. The conversation was easy. The food was delicious and plentiful, and we all shared a beverage or two.
It was, in no way, a traditional graduation, but was it any less special?
I would say it was, in fact, quite wonderful!