The Baccalaureate Service. Like a firework in the face.


Father and Daughter work Twitter and hit the jackpot – the University posts the tweet on the giant outdoor screens for the overflow crowd. Janet Frame sets the stage: “For memory is so often a single explosion, like a firework in the face. One is blinded.”

It’s the same building where I sat four years ago, on August 25, 2012. It was memorialized in my post: He’s Gone. Take your index finger and swipe right to left on your device. One swish, one blink and four years — Gone.

Wait Chapel. The Baccalaureate Service. 54° F. on this glorious Sunday morning. The North wind gusts to keep it real, hands reach back to hold down the Sunday dresses. Summer? Not just yet He says. Not just yet.

A Tie, (Red. Italian. Silk.) specially selected for the Event from Dad’s Tie rack, made the 10 hour commute to rest in a Windsor knot around his neck; 50 feet below us, our Son sits in the pews, breathing, loosening the tie a wee bit to give himself air.

Hundreds of parents, grandparents, friends —buzz in anticipation, flipping through programs, flashing their smart phones to capture the moments.

The Invocation is led by the very same University Chaplain Reverend Tim Auman, who captured the spirit at freshman orientation. He does it again four years later.

Let us Pray. 
As we have each been blessed in our lives, by the gifts and the giving of others, make this community of being which we together enter now tangible. Feel it one last time. It is real. We are real. We are here. We are now…Let our prayer be heard. For aren’t we all one family with the same wants and needs…Help us to strive for a healthy planet. To work toward peaceful loving relationships with our families and all of humankind. To achieve our vision for all people to be fed in body and nourished in soul…sheltered from the rain, free from unnecessary fears. Let our thanks be heard. For aren’t we all family with the same joys and sorrows…Accept our gratitude for the promise of a next chapter in life. And a next. And a next. For the solid earth beneath our feet. For the clear distant sky above.  We offer thanks…Thus we pray. And thus we offer thanks…Listen. Listen carefully Class of 2016. And heed the calls that come in the silence. It is here, in the silence… 

This Dad has no program and takes no pictures.  He’s sitting shock still, with his back iron-board straight. He’s been tapped gently on the shoulder and hypnotized – Listen! He sits in his trance, burrowing inward, drilling deeper. This agnostic, this non-church goer, this believer when it’s convenient, is blinded, he’s overwhelmed.

And the words repeat, in a continuous loop chattering on a teletype:

Accept our gratitude for the promise of a next chapter in life. And a next. And a next. 

Tears roll.



  • Inspired by Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow: A Novel: “If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line. […] Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led—make of that what you will.”
  • Janet Frame Quote from The Edge of the Alphabet (George Braziller, 1962) via Memory’s Landscape.
  • Related Posts: Family


  1. freddiegeorgia says:

    All I can think to say is … WOW! Double and Triple WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda Walker says:


    Liked by 1 person

  3. How we are touched with the truth of the moment. Powerful. Congratulations to all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How exciting! Famous family. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peggy Farrell says:

    Congratulations to Eric ( of course) but also to you and Susan!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. here’s to all of you. and to the next.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Congratulations
    To all of you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Eric. Joe and Olga

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats to Eric and parents! And also for being tapped on the shoulder and listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations Eric! Pass the tissues…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Feeling it. Like it was yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Christie says:

    Eric, congratulations…breath deep…embrace the Joy that lays ahead…David, beautiful and heart touching…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to Eric and your entire family!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No words to suffice. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. michael zahaby says:


    Liked by 1 person

  16. Congratulations! What a beautiful capture of one of life’s special moments. Thank-you for including us in your family’s “prized” time 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Congratulations David!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Amen on the post, Dave. And congrats to Eric and all the family!
    From your post we come to understand that; it is made to rain, and the sun to shine on us all no matter our beliefs or dispositions.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Congrats Eric (cannot figure out for the life of me how 4 years slipped by in an instant) and congrats to you and Susan, pal. A momentous occasion, in more ways than one it seems. Strange, isn’t it, the way forces conspire to make one sit up, take notice, and whisper a simple ‘Thank you’ to whomever may be listening….

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is shocking how fast it has gone Lori. Thank you. And, yes, I’m listening more often now. I know what I need to do, just need to do it. Wendell Berry – like:

      What you must do is this:
      “Rejoice evermore.
      Pray without ceasing.
      In everything give thanks.”

      I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.

      ~ Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Beautiful post. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’ve been catching up…reading your posts backwards. So beautiful, so sweet. It all will start over, you know…someday when you have grandchildren. Tomorrow, my grandson is participating in his very first chess tournament, and even though a few around me have said, “how boring that will be”…I will be there, and not a moment will be boring to me. It’s all of what really keeps me going, seeing the precious ones in our life…just living life. Thank you, David, for sharing your life and your heart with all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Congratulations! Simply beautiful. So many dimensions to this, David. Spoke to me…

    Liked by 1 person

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