I've been writing letters to graduates every year I've been here at the Daily Reporter.
It's my May tradition.
Graduations, after all, are a big deal.
And graduations hit me somewhere very deep.
The tears flow as soon as the first chords of "Pomp and Circumstance" begin in any high school gym. It doesn't matter if I know a single senior or not. I'm a graduation softie.
This year I know the tears will flow unabated. Someone other than I will be holding the camera and taking photos. It's tough to focus when you're drying your eyes.
After all, there's one special member of the class this year.
This year's graduation note goes out to all of you graduates, with a dose of motherly pride and love to my 2012 graduate, son Drew.
Dear Graduates of the Class of 2012:
You blink. You turn around. And suddenly high school is over.
Where did the time go? Why was I in such a hurry?
Shouldn't I feel more ready to face the future (whatever "the future" is)?
As the school days wind down, and graduation looks you in the eye, suddenly you find you're at a crossroads.
Drew, we had that discussion the other night. You talked about the disconnect between the excitement of graduating and the feeling that you weren't quite ready for the huge changes around the bend.
We joked that perhaps your "quarter life crisis," that John Mayer sang about, was coming a bit early.
And I told you the best was yet to come.
It's true, you know.
The saddest person around is the 45-year-old who looks back on high school accomplishments as the highlight of his life.
The most interesting people have a little wear and tear, a lot of miles on the odometer.
I find myself, amazingly, with little advice for you grads. You have shown, in so many ways, that you've already learned important lessons. And really, when you get down to it, the important stuff - the really, really important stuff - is pretty simple.
Enjoy every day.
That's it. Don't you think the world would be a better place if everyone lived those tenets? Start a revolution graduates; live them!
We've seen, so tragically in recent weeks, what happens when you aren't nice. You hurt other people. You cause unimaginable pain. You're good kids, you don't mean to do that to others. Your parents didn't raise you that way.
"Hard work never killed anyone."
That's an adage as old as time. While we can debate whether or not it's true (labor camps, forced marches, etc., etc.) I will tell you that rarely are employees fired for working too hard.
Paychecks are good.
As you age, you'll find, graduates, that your memory becomes, instead of a steel trap, something like a sponge, or swiss cheese. There are holes where information leaks out.
That's why it's important now to get in the habit of not lying.
The truth, you see, takes no effort to remember. It just is.
It saves you so much time and effort in the long run.
Trust me on this.
And finally, enjoy every moment you have. What good is living if you're crabby all the time?
The wisest, kindest, most appreciative-of-life person I know is my Grandma Viola Read. She celebrated her 99th birthday yesterday.
And, in that sentence, "celebrated" is an ACTIVE VERB.
She enjoys life, all the happy, sad, messy, silly parts of it. She has changed with the times and, you'll find when you talk with her, that she's a lot more accepting of different lifestyles, life choices and ways of life than people half (or even a quarter) of her age.
Be a 99-year-old rock star like my Grandma Read. Enjoy your life.
Graduates, we're proud of you. We love you. We will, despite our threats of turning your bedroom into a craft room, miss you very much when you head off to college.
Drew, your father and I will begin practicing sentences soon that do not include the words, "Drew, school, car, gas, money, homework, or clothes on the floor."
I do not, despite my threats, plan to move to Pella to keep an eye on you next fall.
I will not accept dirty laundry mailed postage due.
We want you to fly away from us. That's the way it's supposed to be.
Dad and I are, like you, a bit excited and frightened. After all, this is a big life change for us, as well. For two decades, we revolved around you like two planets around a bright sun. We'll soon need to learn to orbit without your gravitational pull.
We'll find our new normal. We'll embrace the new adventure in our life.
And, we'll proudly watch you soar.