Three graduations have Mom awash with pride

It turns out I didn’t need that pocket pack of Kleenex after all.

After three graduations in two weeks, plus all the attendant ceremonies and celebrations, I’ll admit to one weepy moment. That was at a mother-son brunch three weeks before my middle child’s high school graduation, so it barely counts.

On Saturday, when I spotted my firstborn in the wave of caps and gowns proceeding into Santa Clara University stadium, I only felt overwhelming pride, not a trace of sadness.

I was feeling a crazy kind of defiant joy that has kept my family going since my husband died seven years ago, when my children were 11 and 15.

When my daughter was 19, we discovered she had thyroid cancer. I’ll always be inspired by one memory of this gutsy kid. Against her doctors’ advice, she got on a plane the week after surgery and went back to college for a midterm exam. It was her sophomore year. She didn’t want to lose the quarter.

Healthy, happy and with six honor cords draped over her shoulders, she graduated on time. When her name was called Saturday and she walked across that stage, I was startled at my palpable sense of relief. The load on my shoulders felt suddenly lighter.

Her graduation alone makes this a milestone year, but I’ve been to three of them.

My son graduated June 1 from O’Dea High School in Seattle in a grand ceremony at St. James Cathedral. His college orientation is just days away.

And kindergarten? There’s no leaving without a formal goodbye. On June 8, before taking off for California, we went to my 6-year-old’s graduation celebration at Immaculate Conception/Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. My high-energy guy will advance to first grade. If there’s any doubt, I’ve got a certificate – it’s laminated.

Lately, I’ve been focused on everything but work. Which prom tuxedo looks best on my rock ‘n’ roll son? How can parents keep new grads safe? Who’s going to hire them?

Through it all, I took a few mental notes:

Best advice: Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett delivered a heartfelt address at O’Dea, an all-boys Catholic high school. It was surprisingly secular, and the most memorable speech I heard this month. Brunett shared with graduates three qualities that will serve them well throughout life: a sense of wonder, courage and the ability to keep moving forward.

Sign of generation gap: While I craned my neck to pick my daughter out in the crowd of more than 1,000 graduates, her boyfriend, seated next to me, called her on his cell phone. She immediately answered and told him right where she was. Calling her would never have occurred to me.

Platitude worth repeating: Tim Russert, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was Santa Clara’s commencement speaker. He accepted an honorary doctor of public service degree with a simple “All right!” Later, he told graduates, “No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down and pulling up another person.”

Irritating incident: Somebody hired a small plane to fly over Santa Clara with a sign reading “Carmen Rosas SCU Class of 2005.” At first, it added to the festivities. As the airplane circled about 10 times, the buzz drowned out Russert and the speaker reading graduates’ names. I’m sure even Rosas was happy when it headed off for the horizon.

Best refreshments: A tie. It was hard to beat a champagne-and-strawberries reception in the garden at Santa Clara. Those resourceful kindergarten moms may have pulled it off. Their celebration potluck, with its taco theme food sign-up sheet, made for a guacamole graduation to remember.

Emotional moment: During graduation Mass at St. James Cathedral, someone read the names of all eight parents who had died, along with the names of their graduates. It was gratifying to know our loved ones weren’t forgotten.

Most appreciated: The night before my older son’s graduation, my father handed me a congratulations card. Inside was a generous gift, a tacit acknowledgement of what Russert would later say as he began his Santa Clara speech: “Mom and Dad, thank you for writing those checks.”

You’re welcome.

My advice? Write those checks. There’s no better investment in the world than education.

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or muhlsteinjulie@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

A voter turns in a ballot on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, outside the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On fourth try, Arlington Heights voters overwhelmingly pass fire levy

Meanwhile, in another ballot that gave North County voters deja vu, Lakewood voters appeared to pass two levies for school funding.

Judge Whitney Rivera, who begins her appointment to Snohomish County Superior Court in May, stands in the Edmonds Municipal Court on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge thought her clerk ‘needed more challenge’; now, she’s her successor

Whitney Rivera will be the first judge of Pacific Islander descent to serve on the Snohomish County Superior Court bench.

In this Jan. 4, 2019 photo, workers and other officials gather outside the Sky Valley Education Center school in Monroe, Wash., before going inside to collect samples for testing. The samples were tested for PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as dioxins and furans. A lawsuit filed on behalf of several families and teachers claims that officials failed to adequately respond to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the school. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Judge halves $784M for women exposed to Monsanto chemicals at Monroe school

Monsanto lawyers argued “arbitrary and excessive” damages in the Sky Valley Education Center case “cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

Officers respond to a ferry traffic disturbance Tuesday after a woman in a motorhome threatened to drive off the dock, authorities said. (Photo provided by Mukilteo Police Department)
Everett woman disrupts ferry, threatens to drive motorhome into water

Police arrested the woman at the Mukilteo ferry terminal Tuesday morning after using pepper-ball rounds to get her out.

Bothell
Man gets 75 years for terrorizing exes in Bothell, Mukilteo

In 2021, Joseph Sims broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Bothell and assaulted her. He went on a crime spree from there.

Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stable they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Old horse stall in Index is mini art gallery in the boonies

Frances and Allan Peterson showcase their art. And where else you can buy a souvenir Index pillow or dish towel?

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Providence to pay $200M for illegal timekeeping and break practices

One of the lead plaintiffs in the “enormous” class-action lawsuit was Naomi Bennett, of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Dorothy Crossman rides up on her bike to turn in her ballot  on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Voters to decide on levies for Arlington fire, Lakewood schools

On Tuesday, a fire district tries for the fourth time to pass a levy and a school district makes a change two months after failing.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.