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Barbara Parent: Pomp with so Many Circumstance

Barbara Parent: Pomp with so Many Circumstance

Graduation day came for Matt, our oldest grandchild last week.

The actual date New Jersey’s Stockton University would hold the formal ceremony took some time in scheduling which was to be expected and turned out, of course, never to be. What Matt’s grandfather and I suspected as far back as March was in all probability we would not be driving down the old familiar highways, out of Connecticut and exiting onto the Garden State and again on to the Jersey Turnpike. A route we have followed, and well before E-Z Pass, since Matt was born.

Graduations for out-of-state grandchildren due to logistics that involve hundreds of miles haven’t been attended by us as readily as we would have liked. Those are the graduations we missed during the children’s early school years. What can compare to the heart tug seeing your kindergartener as he walks with his class down the aisle of the auditorium and onto the stage.

The culmination of Matt’s four years at Stockton was as eagerly anticipated by us as his high school graduation four years ago. Held on the athletic field the day as glorious a south Jersey one any grandparent could hope for.

We held the prime spot, standing next to the bleachers with a face to face view of the graduates as they filed onto the field. Our grandson so close as he passed us I could have reached out and touched him.

Matt sent us a video of his “personal” graduation from Stockton. Dressed in his cap and gown, not Stockton’s official which was on “back order,” rather the one he wore four years before when he and his classmates were together on the high school athletic field.

Matt was the only graduate present at his graduation that place in his Medford back yard.

The university’s “diploma,” was designed by Matt and he held it triumphantly above his head – Bachelor of Health Sciences. A wide grin across his face reflected the last four years and his accomplishment. He was accepted at Rutgers University to complete the years of education his chosen field requires and, whether that would be in an academic setting or at his home in Medford seated at his laptop, is still an unknown.

Matt, of course, is not alone. He has all the classes of 2020 riding right there with him. His sister, Katie, was looking forward to what would be a huge June for her– turning 18 on the 13th followed by high school graduation and all the excitement that went with it.

The classes of 2020 nationwide are to be admired for accepting the disappointment, the letdown as gracefully as they have. Pomp and circumstance, as Ed Sullivan used to say, “Is a really big show.”

I ran into Marge in our local grocery store weeks shy of the pandemic that would quickly change our lives. She was excited about the upcoming New Britain High School class reunion, 60 years now if memory serves me, and over the years she had been involved in the planning. I thought about Marge

when I read about the Class of 2020 and the cancellation of traditional graduation ceremonies and yet,

as it is with any experience, what the individuals take from disappointment is what truly counts overall.

When the ceiling of specific numbers at gatherings is lifted and celebrations are held for the classes of

2020 across the country what will the participants talk about as they hopefully are allowed to hug one


“Hey, bummer about graduation?”

I think not. As reunions go and always have, the joy, the essence of it all is reconnecting with those

individuals who were so much a significant part of our lives