All morning my emotions were charged, the familiar combination of stress and excitement before any significant life event. Walking toward the arena to meet my parents, I sense the nervous energy of people around me in the parking lot and sidewalk. Steps are a little quicker, less patience is available for toddling children, and conversations follow accelerated speech patterns filled with pleasantries underlain with the pressure to make the day a special memory.

My eavesdropping brain is shocked into attention. Did I remember the tickets? Nope. Time to repeat the first 200 steps of my walk. I found my dad first and then my mom, whose punctuality landed her at a local diner for breakfast and time to make it to the front gate 20 minutes before I arrived. I can see where my need to be prepared comes from.

Settling down in seats near friends helped me to settle down inside myself. As the band started a repeated chorus of Pomp and Circumstance, the students, adorned in caps and gowns, made their way from the depths of the arena to their seats. My daughter emerged from the tunnel and turned her head upward to scan the crowd. I saw her immediately and my temporary respite of emotional unawareness evaporated.

My hopes and fears for her future flooded me. A swirl of pride of her accomplishments and her empathetic nature with self-doubt of my qualities of a father jostled my stomach. My brain flashed back to the first time I held her in the hospital, with a new parent’s combination of amazement and terror. I was holding something magical that was “my daughter”. Those foreign words shocked me. At 30, I didn’t feel mature or responsible enough to be a father. At that time, my hopes and fears centered around the ability (or inability) to impart the strength, creativity, and knowledge into her to help her grow into a strong, compassionate, and independent adult. Regardless of any parental competency, I knew I would love her forever.

In the procession, her eyes met mine and her smile brightened the entire world. Tears filled my eyes, and I knew she would be ok. What she has been given in her life, by all of those around her, has gotten her this far with fantastic results.

What a Fantastic Smile!

All her family, friends, teachers, coaches, and acquaintances have helped to build her as a person. Her experiences, whether considered positive, negative, or indifferent in each moment, stacked to give her perspective, knowledge, and resiliency. I am grateful for all my daughter has given me and grateful to everyone and everything that has helped her in life so far. 

In each aspect of ourselves and our lives, we are built from words of advice and encouragement, observations and experiments or every interaction, and the sense of love and emotions around us. Even as anglers, our time with others in conversation, fishing, and observation builds our knowledge. Graduation is an acknowledgement of accomplishments for the student. For me, watching my daughter’s graduation also felt like an acknowledgement for everyone and every experience that helped shape her. Thank you for giving me my daughter.

Hiking Along the Patapsco

Keep Mending…

One Reply to “A Diploma of Appreciation”

  1. Your heartfelt writing was an example of the sensitive, loving person you are!
    Your love and support will go on forever and it makes a difference!
    There is much to be proud of and it is to be celebrated! I celebrate, you, Samiah, Cameron and the rest of your family! My pride is overwhelming and I am blessed by you all! Thank you God!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *