A day may last forever but the years go by fast

Dennis Warden

Forty years ago I left the comforts of home and drove 90 miles in my 1972 Nova to attend the University of Missouri in Columbia — also the alma mater of my wife. Eleven days ago Connie and I drove our Dodge Grand Caravan those same 90 miles to watch our baby girl graduate from ole’ Mizzou. 

The first car was a two door muscle car from the 70’s for a bachelor, the second, a vehicle to transport a family of five or more to school functions.

It was a wonderful moment that my wife and I share with everyone who has a graduate this spring for May is graduation season. Of course this was not the first graduation that we watched with pride as our offspring crossed a stage to pickup a piece of parchment signifying their accomplishments.

The school system starts preparing us for this special time very early with a kindergarten ceremony, then there is eighth-grade graduation, next comes high school commencement.

Each one of these ceremonies is just another way to prepare us for that eventual time when our children grow up and finally cut the strings and leave home. It’s bitter sweet.

The first ceremony we attended that Saturday was for those graduating with honors from the university. This was held in the Mizzou Arena from 8:30 to 10:30 in the morning. We filed in with a few thousand other proud parents and grandparents about an hour before it started to find a good seat. 

During this ceremony Abby received a medal and was recognized for graduating summa cum laude with honors in her chosen degree.

This was just a precursor, to get us ready for the three hour main event that started at 4:30, back at the same arena, for what was the third graduation ceremony there on Saturday.

In the main ceremony Abby marched in and sat down with seven of her friends who were also graduating with a degree in physics. Most of you have felt that same pride when your child’s name is announced and they receive their degree.

It’s funny but Abby is the only one of our three who knew what she wanted to do from middle school on and never wavered in her commitment. 

Although I knew Jacob was destined to be a salesman, like me, he tried attending college for Aerospace Engineering. That didn’t last long. Ethan took six years to graduate college because he thought he wanted to be a photographer.

Thank goodness Ethan and Jacob found their calling in life. I knew what they needed to do but couldn’t tell them. It wouldn’t have done any good anyway. After they leave high school you have to let your kids make their own mistakes and find their way.

The few hours in between ceremonies gave us time to celebrate with Abby and Ethan. Ethan graduated the same day with his masters in music performance from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

He and his wife Hillary also drove to Columbia, missing his graduation ceremony to be with his little sister for her commencement.

We celebrated both accomplishments with food from a place I used to work at when I lived in Columbia — Shakespeare’s Pizza — followed by cake and champagne. (Now that I type these words this does seem like a weird combination.)

It’s hard to believe but it was just four short years ago that Abigail graduated from high school. 

When I was born, close to the middle of the 20th century, my father was just 20-years-old. When Connie and I were blessed with our first born, Jacob, I had reached the age of 30. This summer Jacob will be 29, Abby will be 23 and yesterday Ethan turned 26. 

I wonder how old my children will be when, and if they have any children of their own. That is another thing you cannot dictate to your kids.

In the news recently there have been stories of record low birth rates in the United States as couples put off having children longer and longer. What a shame.

Children are a blessing. Most of Connie and my favorite memories revolve around our children and their accomplishments. Even though we are empty nesters we still hurt when they hurt, we still laugh with them and we are still proud of their achievements both great and small.

I don’t want my children to miss those experiences. And, I want grandchildren some day while I’m young enough to enjoy them!

In a speech to retiring teachers Gasconade County R-2 superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said that some days last forever, but the years go by fast. How true.