“Commencement” really is a Beginning

Playing right now: “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar

When I was in high school, our band played “Pomp and Circumstance” while the seniors were marching into and out of the gym for graduation.

It was a tradition, one we eagerly embraced. As we embraced our new (higher!) chair positions without our “leaders.”

A week was set aside to practice. The seniors would walk in as we played; they’d listen as their names were read aloud, then they’d walk back out as we played again.

Over and over until it was right.

So by graduation evening, it was old hat. It never crossed my mind to cry.

Nor did I cry when I was the graduating senior (eager, I recall, to get out of Dodge!)

By the time my son (AKA My Favorite Domer) graduated from high school — Class of 2009 — they’d chosen a prerecorded version of “Pomp and Circumstance” to accompany the seniors’ processional.

Call me old-fashioned, but I liked it better when the band played. Squeaks and wrong notes and all.

So I didn’t cry at Domer’s high school graduation.

But now, he’s completed his final, final exam, marking the end of his four-year stint at Notre Dame, and Commencement is right around the corner.

And I feel weepy.

I’m going to miss ND more than Domer will because, after all, it’s “home” to him. He’ll be back for football games, reunions, and such.

I, on the other hand, won’t have a reason to go back without him there.

The other day I was in the car when “Pomp and Circumstance” — the long version — played on Sirius radio, and I couldn’t help myself.

The tears just started flowing.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be emotional when Domer walks across that stage to accept his diploma. So I’ve decided to desensitize by listening to “Pomp” every chance I get.

And it’s helping.

When I left for college, my late dad termed it a “four-year paid vacation.”

Not so. I worked too hard.

Stayed up late too often studying. Involved myself in a gazillion activities. Reported for the campus newspaper. Had a scholarship to the Band.

Yes, I had fun. But not “vacation” fun.

Domer wouldn’t call his four years a “vacation,” either.

For the first time in his life, he’s been surrounded with young people just like him.

Bright. Talented. Big-hearted. Idealistic.

Kids who are athletic. Musical. Scholars. Volunteers.

Kids who recognize that they’ve been given many advantages and “To whom much is given, much is expected in return.” (Luke 12:48)

I predict good things for the Class of 2013.

Now, if I can just get past the Alma Mater. . . .!

22 thoughts on ““Commencement” really is a Beginning

  1. “I always try to balance the light with the heavy – a few tears of human spirit in with the sequins and the fringes.” ~ Bette Midler Go ahead and shed a tear or two…I’m not much of a cryer but just thinking about Cole’s senior year and graduation can have my eyes overflowing. It would be odd if you didn’t feel an overwhelming amount of emotion right now. Of-course be practical and wear waterproof makeup!

    • Good advice, Katybeth — thanks! Your time is coming, you know. Something about seeing them all dressed out in their robes and looking so grown up that tugs at a parent’s heart. Lovely quote from Bette Midler — one I’ll have to commit to memory!

    • I’d love going back with him, but I’m pretty sure for the first couple of years, he’s going to want to meet up with his friends. They’re going to be scattered all across the land, working, furthering their education, etc., and I hope they manage to stay connected better than my graduating class has!

  2. Debbie, what a lovely post! And you know, I actually got a bit teary-eyed reading your touching and heart-felt words, because it brought back so many wonderful memories for me and my own graduation.

    I’m actually a very emotional person (the Italian in me) and will often cry at simply seeing a new born baby or even during a wedding ceremony – HA!

    “I predict good things for the Class of 2013.”


    The BEST to Domer!

    Happy Monday, dear lady!


    • What lovely words, Ron — thank you! I imagine my combination of Irish and Italian makes me a naturally emotional person. I usually try to keep it from going over the top, but BIG occasions like this almost require a box of Kleenex!

      Glad to hear I was able to stir up some fond memories of your own graduation. Seems like yesterday in some ways, doesn’t it??

      Have a splendid week, my friend!

  3. Deb—-it will be fine–just focus on HIM–how Happy he is! How this is HIS moment–and that life is really just BEGINNING for HIM!! if you set your mind on these things, you WILL NOT cry! tear up w/the music, yes, but no bawling! Now, Bob and I both cried all the way home from Millsaps, but I didn’t make a blubbering idiot out of myself there–nor did I have eyeliner running down my face… love you

    • Thanks, Sis, I appreciate it. Words of wisdom from one who’s been there, done that, always mean a lot! I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to keep it under control (it’s the “Daddy” in me!). Yes, it’s an emotional occasion, and ND is the very best at tugging on heartstrings. Still, you’re right — this is Domer’s special occasion, and no way do I want to embarrass him. I can stifle it until I’m alone, then let it flow!!

  4. Oh Debbie, that song always brings on the tears and lump in the throat for me too. I had to laugh that you’re listening to Pomp & Circumstance over and over to desensitize you to it……I’m not so sure I’d bet that it’s going to work. How proud, and rightly so, you must be!

    • I am proud, Barb. It’s quite a testament to his drive and perseverance that his college graduation is right upon us. Listening to “Pomp” is fairly easy when I’m in the privacy of my office; listening to it with thousands of weepy moms — and watching my son move around in cap and gown — well, that, I’m afraid, will be a different story!

  5. Oh Debbie, I can relate to this piece. My son graduates from college next Saturday and I could not get off work to fly over, so I will sitting in Switzerland feeling, oh so nostalgic. Luckily, he then flies home for 2 weeks before embarking on his master’s on another campus. So why the heck am I weepy? We still have another year of college to help pay. ha

    • Congratulations to you AND your son, Pat! What a fabulous time of year this is, with all the newly-minted grads out and ready to take on the world! While it’s not possible for you to attend this year, I hope you’ll make it to his master’s graduation! Then you can weep in person, ha!

  6. Congratulations to Domer. Wishing him all the best and much success in the next stage of his life. Oh, and thanks for preparing me for my sob fest. Better remember to pack some tissues. 😉

    • Not to worry, the tissues are ready to go! Thanks much for the good wishes for Domer. Best of luck to your graduating daughter, too, and I hope you’ll manage the tears better than some of us!

  7. You are so strong! I cried at the boys’ preschool graduation and kindergarten advancements, so odds are I’ll embarrass- er, I mean, cry at their high school graduations as well 🙂 I hope the desensitizing works. But if it doesn’t, I think a few happy tears are perfectly normal.

    • Aw, gee, Janna, you cried at their kindergarten advancements? How tender-hearted you are! So far, the desensitizing works fine (here in the privacy of my home). I don’t think I’ll be able to say the same when I get to campus, though, ha!

  8. I played in the band in highschool….and remember playing that for what seemed like hours each spring. You’ll be fine, but for sure you’re going to cry, along with all the rest of the parents there. He’s going to do great things! Congratulations to you both!

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