I received your lovely graduation announcement. Although I won't be there for your special time I do want to congratulate you. But you will hear "congratulations" a hundred times tonight and, because you are so special to me, I strive to find words to say just how dearly I love you.
We live in two different worlds now. Where once we had puppy dogs and ice cream and porch swings in common, we now must try to bridge the chasms of age, and culture, and geography. But let me try.
48 years ago this month I too donned cap and gown and strode up to the dais to accept my high school diploma. As they played "Pomp and Circumstance" I glanced up into the bleachers where my mother sat, glowing with pride at my being the very first in my extended family to complete a high school education. My mother was "hero" because she fostered an environment where an education held the highest of value, and to "not graduate" was something that was simply not even thought about around our home.
Now, your mother and father will sit in the audience and proudly watch you take that first tentative step toward adulthood. There will be a few seconds when you reach for your diploma that you'll be slightly out of focus to them; their eyes will blur a little..from tears of pride and joy as they recall that first day at pre-school, the day they were forced to surrender a small part of you to the outside world. And now they are bracing themselves for the day that you will soon leave home and begin to make a place for yourself in the world. They will walk into your empty bedroom and look longingly at the remnants of "Lexy", the little girl who filled their home with joy and laughter.
And what of the friends you have made in school? You will surely have had your yearbook signing, received hugs and well wishes amidst tears and laughter. You will have stealthily perused what "they" wrote to you..and about you..and you'll tuck the book away...and open it thirty or forty or fifty years hence and be both amazed and amused by the youthful assessments made so long ago.
As for me, your Papa, were I to write a tribute to you on this day, it would be about how I am so richly blessed to have a granddaughter so beautiful both inside and out. I would caution you to strive with all your might to realize how little you know and how much you have to learn. I would alert you to the great tragedy of today's academic environment that seems to preach intolerance for an opposing point of view...and urge you to swim against the currents...for your opinions will surely change and evolve as you walk through life...so never accept the hard ideology of "I'm always right."
"Always right" assures that you will always be wrong. Use the naturally wonderful compassion that is within you to be willing to listen to another's point of view. If you do that, dear granddaughter you will have learned far more than most, for you will have learned both sides of the argument.
And so, dear one, as you set out on your life's path, I wish you well. And, because that path is never straight and narrow, there will be times when our paths will cross, and I will embrace you, and cheer for how far you've come...and wish that the path ahead is adorned with rainbows and unicorns and soft whisperings.
My heart is so full of pride and love for you I feel it will burst just now. So darling Lexy, I send you the most loving and heartfelt congratulations to you on this very special day.