June 10, 2005

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

This is the 'Year of the Granddaughters'

My family calls this the “Year of the Granddaughters.” That’s because we have three of them graduating from high school this spring! 1987 was a very good year.

Naturally, we believe these three are the loveliest, brightest and most talented of any graduates this season. They’re very different, having descended from three sets of dads and moms, but very much alike in the promise they show. We expect great things.

Now, this attitude is probably true of most parents and grandparents who get all teary-eyed watching their darlings arrive on the cusp of independence. I always say that we raise kids to be independent but, when they are, we feel a bit sad.

The girls’ parents are feeling this, too. But they’re realistic about their daughters’ strengths and weaknesses, trying to support their decisions when they’re good ones, and steer them elsewhere when they’re not.

Here’s where differences enter the picture because the girls have unique life experiences and potential. The youngest of our three “grands” was the first to graduate this year. She’s earned a college scholarship and plans to become a registered nurse.

Kelly has always been a darling girl, naturally kind, considerate and dependable. She’s also lovely to look at and fun to be with. She has many friends, thanks to living in one place a long time, and two or three “bests” to whom she is as loyal as she is faithful to her religion.

Jessica graduated next. She’s had many traumatic events in her life, including her father’s death when she was 2 and major surgery when she was 5. Despite being raised without a dad much of the time she was growing up, Jessica is a healthy, happy and well-adjusted girl.

Her mom gave her a Christian education, much cultural experience and innumerable fun times with her large extended family. Jessica, too, has earned a college scholarship that will enable her goal of helping others with forensic psychology (shades of CSI !).

Kara will be the third to graduate. Her life began two weeks after her dad deployed with the U.S. Navy to the Persian Gulf. Her pregnant mom stood on the dock sobbing to the strains of “Anchors Aweigh” on the public address system, but it was only the first of many tearful hellos and goodbyes for this “Navy brat” who’s lived in more places than I can remember.

Despite the moves, the many new homes and schools and friends, Kara also has turned into a beautiful and accomplished girl. She is quiet, observant and rightly confident in her intellectual abilities. After college, she hopes to work for the government as a fluent speaker of such languages as Arabic and Chinese.

In our three granddaughters, we see a microcosm of the youthful potential we have in our country. It seems to me that we hear so much in the media and popular culture about teenage sexual promiscuity, drug addiction, indifference to gaining an education and other depressing situations that we despair of their future, and ours.

But there’s a reason for calling a graduation ceremony a “commencement.” We can only hope that all graduates will understand the reward of commencing upon a life that’s faithful to God’s will.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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