Today, my dad graduated with his masters degree.
Isn’t that epic? The man is over 50 years old. When he made the decision to school and get his undergrad, I was getting mine and I’m his youngest kid. We even had a class together, because I wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity. I also almost convinced him to come audition with me for the school play. I still maintain that he could have made a stellar Oberon.
It’s taken something like ten years from start to finish, but he now has a terminal degree in his field. It’s been a long journey for us all – but particularly me because I proofread his papers. His thesis damn near killed me. And today marked the official day that it is truly all over.
I don’t know what I expected of myself from attending. I knew I’d be proud – who wouldn’t be? I knew that I was excited, of course. But I didn’t expect that when he came through the door to the auditorium, I would instantly weep.
My dad’s not the kind of guy to really go outside his comfort zone. If I wanted to get on a plush, awkwardly shaped half-couch and talk about the roots of things, I’d say my inclination to stay inside, not call people I know, and generally write off the rest of mankind is a direct result of following the pattern he set for me. He didn’t go to the ceremony for his undergrad. Partially because he didn’t think anything was worth celebrating until he got all the way through, and partially because it was probably uncomfortable to imagine going through all the pomp and circumstance alongside a bunch of 20-somethings.
So since this was his first (and last) chance to celebrate, I was inclined to do all the stereotypical congratulatory acts. I wanted to get him stupid mugs and balloons and books and magnets with inspiring quotes on them. I wanted to ask him what he thought he would do when he grows up and tell him that he had his whole life ahead of him. But since I was pretty sure that would provoke him to cause me physical harm, I resolved to just scream at the top of my lungs when they called his name to walk.
The older lady in a fashion blazer and too-hairsprayed hair in front of me really didn’t appreciate my contribution.
But I didn’t really care about Blazer, because when her daughter walked, she did a little half-yelp. She looked like she wanted to do more but she just couldn’t pull herself out of social formalities for even just a moment. I’m sure her half-yelp gave her a thrill, but I needed more. It was all I could do to hold back shouting “GO DADDY!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – but I thought that might embarrass him so I cut off the “go daddy” portion and delivered the rest right into Blazer’s ear.
Turns out, I could have yelled anything I darn well pleased because dad didn’t hear any of it. He was the first in line for the MFA degrees and had to set the precedent for where to walk and how to get hooded. He was following arrows on the floor and being shepherded to the appropriate locations for pictures, handshakes, and degree-conferring. Everything after his name announcement was a blackout.
I think that’s adorable.
I absolutely could not contain my joy to see him all suited up in a cap, gown, and draping hood behind. The fact that this man saw his goal through all the way to the end and finished as grandfather to the two little babies who were in the back row is amazing to me. And the fact that someday soon he’ll have his own office on a campus and touch the lives of a myriad of students who will learn and talk about how totally cool my dad is? Well, there are just no words that can express my excitement and pride.
So congratulations to my fantastic and amazing father, who on this 17th day of December in the 2011th year of our Lord was hooded in an official ceremony to indicate how badass he is.
That’s one heck of a Lollipop Tuesday. ◊