I arrived Somewhere Else on Wednesday morning. My hotel reservations included the Graduate and Coconut. My sister, the Graduate’s mom, flew in from Elsewhere to attend graduation but she stayed with a friend. My niece went to stay with her mom post- graduation, pre-employment.
Wednesday was a busy day for everyone. I had errands, my sister had commitments, and the Graduate had a banquet (a polite euphemism for a drunken feast that included a faculty member falling ass over teakettle, not once but twice, and plenty of other scandalous behavior). Being 50, I’d
repressed forgotten the endurance inherent in youthful celebrations. I was happy to entertain Coconut through the evening.
My niece graduated from nursing school on Thursday night. Her mom, my sister, is also an RN. When my niece was a little girl her parents divorced. They had been high school sweethearts. After the divorce, my sister raised her little girls alone while she attended college full-time. When my sister graduated, my niece pinned her mom. When my niece graduated, my sister pinned her daughter.
We had dinner prior to graduation. I looked around the table. The Graduate’s dad was there with his third wife; her mom was there with her former second husband. My family and the Graduate’s dad’s family grew up together. We’ve known each other for over forty years. We picked up conversations where they’d left off the last time we saw each other.
Each student was given 4 tickets for reserved graduation seating. My niece gave a ticket to her mom, dad, me, and her best friend. The parents sat next to each other, then the best friend and finally me. I watched my sister and the father of her children laughing over observations they shared. At one point in the hubbub my niece’s dad called out to her so she’d be still long enough for us to get photographs.
A torrent of water flows under the bridge. There were times when animosity smothered unity. None of us could have imagined the twists and turns our lives would take to join us at the celebration. We meant all of the kind things we said to each other. We hugged goodbye at the end of the evening. It was an inclusive graduation.