Monday, May 19, 2008

The Class of 2008

My niece graduated from college yesterday. My baby brother’s oldest girl. She is the second child to be born to our small circle; the first was my son, fourteen years before her.

I’ve mentioned L before. She is responsible for one of my favorite nicknames – “HiHiDi”. When she was a baby she’d delight herself (and me) by screaming “Hi Di! Hi Di!” every time she saw me. I could leave and re-enter a room a million times and each time – “Hi Di! Hi Di!” Even after she got sick of it the alleged adults in her life would beg for more. “L, say Hi to Aunt Di, say Hi”. Finally she’d get so tongue twisted that it would come out “Hi, HiDi” and family folklore was born.

Waking up at 4 AM on a Sunday morning can really remind you how much you love someone. By 5:30 we were on the road to the Motherland (Brooklyn) and by 6:30 we had picked up bagels, stopped at my brother’s house, consolidated cars and were on the way to Connecticut.

The skies were sunny and the temperature was perfect. The weather experts had forecast rain. I am so glad we ignored them! In the event of rain graduation would be held inside and only parents could attend. Everyone else would only be able to watch via closed circuit TV. My daughter-in-law and I discussed not going since the forecast was 70% chance of rain – what with the getting up at 4AM and all – it was an understandable discussion but we decided on campus, even if over TV, was better than not being there. This was L after all!

We thought we were outrageously early and almost decided to stop for breakfast #2. Trust me – when you’re up at 4 and you’ve driven many, many miles 9:30 seems like lunch time. The school is in a small town so all the restaurants were crowded and we moved on to the campus. Good thing! The ceremony was scheduled for 11:30 – it actually started at 10:30 – none of us knows why we had the time wrong, we’re good at being blissfully unaware. All the front rows were taken – some people had been there for hours. Gotta love a dedicated Grandma!

Speaking of dedicated Grandmas – my niece’s Grandmother made a bee line for the side section – direct albeit diagonal view of the stage and quickly claimed 8 little white folding chairs. So there we were – me – my brother the proud papa – his ex-wife the proud mama – her parents the proud grandparents – my daughter-in-law – my niece the proud little sis – and last but not least one of the proud cousins. My son had to work but we kept texting him progress reports and e-mailing him photos.

I love a good ceremony. I can do without long speeches by trustees and benedictions always give me the religious shakes but this one was pretty cool cause I loved the center of it all – my L in all her educated cap and gown glory! I got chills and was glad to hide behind my sunglasses while I watched all the lovely young men and women march out. They paint such a hopeful yet heart tugging picture. So strong in a fragile world. So much possibility in an uncertain time.

Lisa Ling gave the main commencement speech. She is a wondrous young woman and she spoke eloquently about activism and following your heart.

1363 young people received degrees yesterday. And I clapped for each name. When L was announced we all cheered (she heard us!) and I did my best Brooklyn “Yo L – Way to Go” – I am nothing if not a lady.

We spent a lot of time on campus after the ceremony. I’ll see if L will give me permission to share some photos. I only took a couple of hundred LOL

Then we drove into New Haven, stopped and admired Yale – as my brother puts it, the entire family doesn’t have enough organs to sell for L to have been able to go there - and then went on to dinner at a wonderful old deco style restaurant. I’ll put up some photos of the architecture soon.

We left L at her apartment to pack and say 4 years worth of goodbyes in a week.

Even Sunday night traffic from CT to NY and then on to NJ could not dampen a wonderful day.

Congratulations to the class of 2008 – each and every one of them in towns and cities all over this country. I hope the world gives them better leaders – leaders who will value them and keep them safe. Leaders who will inspire them. Leaders worthy of them.

As for my L – as if my son turning 35 last week wasn’t enough to lube up my tear ducts! This first baby of the brother I raised! This beautiful, strong, funny young woman! The world better be good to her or it will need to answer to me. And trust me – I have had skirmishes with the world before.

On the ride home last night my brother’s cell phone rang. It was his daughter – the graduate – calling from her apartment. She was doing what they do all the time. Calling her Dad to tell him what Seinfeld episode she had just caught and quizzing him on their shared favorite line.

I told my brother many times yesterday how proud I am of him; what a good Dad he is. It is so wonderful to see my son, my nieces do well. See them happy and healthy, enjoying their lives. One of the best gifts we can give the next generation is to pave the way, to leave a trail for them to follow, and to give them enough tools to always get back whenever they’re lost.

There are many theories about the cycle of neglectful and abusive parenting. I’m here to tell that it is possible to break the cycle – difficult? Yes! – but possible.

And on we go …


the teach said...

Oh Dianne, congratulations to you, your niece, your brother and you have more that a graduation to celebrate! All the best to you and your whole family! :D

the teach said...

Oh and thanks so much for looking for me and finding me!

Sleepypete said...

Sounds like an exhilirating day :-)

Love hearing how you got your nickname too :-)

Raven said...

Brava to L! Congratulations to all of you. What a wonderful family you and your brother have created for your respective children. I'm looking forward to the pictures. Love the HiHiDi story. My mother was called RiRi on the basis of a story like that. I've never been lucky enough to have a cool nickname. Glad the sun stayed out and that it was such an altogether wonderful day.

Tammy said...

Congratulations to your niece!

Dianne said...

thanks teach - appreciate the kind words. and your wordzzle is always worth looking for :)

thanks sleepypete!

raven - we did do good didn't we LOL - thanks Raven. Oh - and I have a lot of not so nice nicknames as well LOL

thank you so much tammy

Jay said...

Congrats to your niece!

I didn't even go to my own graduation. I just had them mail that diploma to me.

I did go to her graduation when she got her Masters though. I thought that was nice of me. LOL

But, I'm not sure I would have gotten up at 4 am to go though!

tt said...

HiHiDi.......That cracked me up. Cute story.
And on we go....amen sista...amen!
That said it all.

Odat said...

Great post! and congrats to your niece and the Class of 2008! What a great Aunt you are!!! She's lucky to have you in her life.


Jeni said...

Sounds to me like a really super way to spend a Sunday -at a college graduation! My kids would have loved to have you with them at my graduation just to have someone else to cheer loudly -maybe even whistle, ya know! Congrats not just to your niece though but to the whole family for providing her with the support needed to achieve that degree. Now, on to the next level -either the reality of the working world or maybe a little more shelter and going on for a higher degree, maybe? Which will it be?

kenju said...

A wonderful post, Dianne~! Congrats to your niece and to her father!

Michael Manning said...

Dianne: You must be proud! When I graduated in 99', my former fraternity brother yelled "GO MIKE!!!" and I never knew how he managed from the back of the arena. What a memory!

Quiet Rage said...

I'm all for breaking the cycle of neglectful and abusive parenting as well. You so rightly put it as difficult? Yes! - but possible.

I so whole-heartedly agree.

the walking man said...

One of my sons wore me out waiting for his graduation. Boy took 7+ years for his engineering degree. I doubt I will ever wait so long to go to a graduation again. hmmm come to think of it HiHiDi, I don't have any more graduations to go to. He outlasted all of the rest of his generation for completing college. "Thats my boy!"

ha ha ha ha ha ha.


Smalltown RN said...

A long day but well worth it...I can hardly wait to see the you I to believe that cycles can be broken...albeit difficult at times...but it can be done...congratulations to you all!!!

bobbie said...

Yes, cycles can be broken. And thank God for that!

Congratulations to you all!

HiHiDi !!!

Matt-Man said...

Well done and very sweet D. Congrats to L. Cheers!!

Leighann said...

Di I am so in love with you!! And also way behind on your blog *pout* Feel free to spank me!

Congrats to L!!

Dianne said...

jay - I would have cheered for you at your graduation and I would have gotten up at 4. I just had a vision of you in cap and gown and Viking helmet. You looked hot!!

tt - and on we go is the family mantra :)

odat - thanks, that is sweet of you to say. Peace

jeni - I can't whistle!! It's some kind of odd thing, I just can't do it. All that happens is I dribble LOL
I would shout for you any time though.
L is hoping to find a job that will help her do her graduate studies. Dad still has another kid to put through college and L is hoping not to break his bank.

thank you so much kenju!

michael - I am proud. thanks. L said she heard us all and she could pick my voice out. I've been know to be a bit loud.

thank you quiet rage - kind affirmation, I appreciate that :)

mark - that's your boy and ya know you love him :)

smalltown rn - more even than the degree I know my brother was feeling the relief and joy of having concrete proof of his parenting. Without role models we often question ourselves. thanks rn.

bobbi - thank God for that indeed!!

thanks matt - I appreciate that.

leighann - if you REALLY want me to spank you I will. and I love you too. you can always catch up (or not) whenever you can. I know you're there. I can feel ya!

Knight said...

That was a loaded last line. I love to hear when the story works out that way. Congratulations to L and to you for having such a wonderful family. It's so exciting to see people ready to move into a new life.
My boyfriend has been in nursing school for three years and just graduated yesterday. I'm so thrilled that he can finally get into the world and be happy with what he is doing. I wasn't even this excited at my own graduation.

Shelly said...

What a wonderful story. You reminded me of my own tears at my niece's graduation. She was salutatorian at her high school and the speech was absolutely incredible...she's off at University and making us proud once again.

Jo said...

Oh, congrats to L & to all of you! I just love how proud you are of her & your brother, you sound so buzzy :)

When my son graduated middle school last year I thought my heart was going to just keel over from all the emotion...I couldn't stop hugging all the kids, their parents, we were a happy mess.

I'm sorry there was a crappy cycle for you to break, but hell yes you did...I see you lifting people up, sharing your strength & goodness--and with your very particular grit & grace.

Farmer*swife said...

As a child, I remember how many bad decisions and choices the adults around me made...and wondering? How can they not realize that what they are doing impacts "MY" Life.

I try so hard to be a good, kind, loving parent that can still provide boundaries to shape our children into well rounded, contributing adults.

Thanks for sharing your story. My oldest "graduates" from Kindergarten next week ;-). It knocks me out almost, when I think about how big he is now compared to that little infant he once was.

And, I am happy yet a little saddened that one day they will be full out adults, making their own way in the world.

I want all of that for them and a wonderful future...but, I already miss the past.

Happy Tuesday!

CG said...

Congrats to L and your family. I have often wondered about the URL of your blog and its origin!

Akelamalu said...

Love your nickname Dianne! :)

Congratulations to L and your family

Dianne said...

knight - congratulations to your boyfriend! I'm happy for both of you.

shelly - I can imagine the tears while listening to her speak. Congrats to your niece :)

jo - I love some many of the things you say I may have to start a Jo Quote Journal. "happy mess" and "grit and grace" are definite entries.
I can't believe you have a kid in High School.

farmer's wife - I remember my son's kindergarten graduation - and my nieces. Seems like yesterday. Just enjoy and hug them a lot. Which I know you do.

thanks cg! when I was trying to decide a url it came to me right away. L loves it!!

thank you akelamalu.

Hilary said...

Sounds like you're just oozing with pride.. what a great aunt. I'm sorry that there was a cycle that needed breaking.. but it sure sounds like a happy outcome.

Dianne said...

hilary - thank you. We've learned (some LOL) to use the bad part of the cycle to fuel us forward.
hence the "and on we go" :)

fermicat said...

You have got an amazing family. Knowing that you had to conquer adversity makes it all the more special that y'all are doing so well.

Nicey said...

Now that a cool story, it will be a wonderful day bet you will be proud of them, it will be a great day for them.


Dianne said...

thanks fermicat :)
we think we're OK LOL and we certainly think our kids are something else. You're right about how much more special victory out of adversity can be.

nicey - thanks for coming by. I'll come visit you later :)

Minnesotablue said...

If anyone could have broken that cycle it would be you! Congratulations to both you your niece and brother. Nothing like being surrounded by family whether they are largee or small

Dianne said...

thank you minnesota! thank you so much :)

Pagan Sphinx said...

This beautiful post brought tears to my eyes. Not only do you express the pride and love you feel for your niece but you extend that to other young people as well.

I'm so glad I met your through bobbie and minnesotta blue!

Congratulations to the graduate and her family!

Namaste, my friend

magnetbabe said...

Congratulations to your niece on this wonderful achievement! And of course, congratulations to you and your brother for creating peace, sanity and normalcy after such a rocky start.

Dianne said...

pagan - thank you for such lovely, kind words. I'm glad I found you as well. And bobbie and minnesota are the best.

"Aunt" Babe - thanks kid! Here's wishing for continued Peace, Sanity, and Normalcy. Mi/Si send hugs.