Father Speechless With Gratitude
May 15, 2012, 10:57 am
By Oregonian columnist Steve Duin
When your youngest child graduates from college, as mine did Sunday, there is
more whirlwind than solid ground. The emotions are so dizzying that there's
anchor in a gentle wink, the sort we found 10 minutes after settling onto an
empty bench seat at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium.
Lining up for the processional, Lauren asked where we were sitting. "Section
11," my text replied. "Row ..."
It took a moment to find the letters
stamped on the end of the bleacher: LL. As in LoLo, my daughter's nickname.
I needed that. And I held onto it, and held it together, until Fareed
Zakaria, Duke's commencement speaker, told the 4,900 graduates that while he
didn't have the experience or the scars to offer them memorable advice, he was sure of this:
"You can not possibly understand the
love your parents have for you."
Like so many 22-year-olds, Lauren has
come into her own. On the weekend before her graduation, I watched her take over
the room at a wedding reception in Washington, D.C., dancing with reckless
confidence, sharing lead vocals on "Thunder Road" with Glenn Stuart and the B Street Band.
She has found her
voice even as the whirlwind has stolen mine. On Saturday night, we followed
Lauren and a half-dozen sorority sisters to a sit-down dinner.
were tinkling glasses and toasts, cabernet attempts to lend perspective to the
celebration of the weekend and the ceremony of the past four years. I silently
rehearsed through the entrée and two thirds of the red velvet cake, yet could
not find the words I needed to leave my chair.
clumsiness in the presence of resplendent college girls is a holdover from my
college years. But it's more than that.
When trying to make sense of
things, pain is instructive. Embarrassment has proven to be reliable column
material for years.
But gratitude? Gratitude takes your breath away. In
the presence of good fortune beyond anything I planned or feared, I increasingly
err on the side of silence. Read the rest of Steve Duin's Oregonian article here