“Be Courageous and Be Brave”

“And in my heart you’ll always stay forever young.” – Rod Stewart

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Dr. Suess once said “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  I can’t tell you how much I love this quote.  Moments that are planned, and moments that sneak up on us and surprise us all have the ability to turn into memories that can last a lifetime.

Not many things make me reflect on moments and memories and the passing of time quite like a high school graduation.  I spent Friday evening attending and celebrating my nephew’s high school graduation.  He not only graduated from high school, but he did so with college credits as well!  Was that even a thing when I graduated?  Probably, but I was just happy to earn my diploma by itself.

It was quite an impressive achievement for my nephew (some of his classmates actually received their high school diploma AND a two-year Associate’s Degree).  But, in the words of my wise father-in-law – “his story isn’t written yet.”  Eighteen years is quite a while, but he’s right in this case – it’s only the beginning for my nephew.

My beginning / high school graduation happened 28 years ago.

As I sat through my nephew’s graduation of maybe 40-50 students I thought about his 18 years.  My wife and I were married the same year he was born (1999).  I remember my sister-in-law was big and pregnant at our wedding in March of that year.  I remember the times my wife and I got to babysit the first boy in her family in many years at our big blue house in Lexington, Oklahoma.  And we loved every minute of it.

I also thought about my high school graduation in 1989.  It featured some 550 (or was it 650?) students and was held in the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

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I don’t remember much from the event itself.  I remember thinking it was long with that many students, but I couldn’t tell you one thing that was said during the event.  After it was over I do remember walking out and up the ramp (part of the Lloyd Noble Center is underground) where we were directed to walk as graduates.

I paused for a moment near the top of the ramp, turned around, and stood there watching my fellow graduates walk up the ramp wearing their caps and black gowns, and basically off into the sunset.  I wondered what would become of them, of us.  I knew colleges, the military, and jobs awaited us.  Life awaited us, and even though I didn’t really know how, I knew things would never be the same.  Our stories were just beginning, and they were beginning in all different directions.

People I attended school with almost every day for five years I would never see again except for the occasional class reunion.  I now “see” many of them through the power of the internet on social media.  I feel like I know many of them better now than I did all of those years ago.  We’ve all formed opinions and affiliations, and have had marriages and divorces and started families and mourned the passing of others.  We’re all grown up.  Our stories are still unfolding for many of us, though I’m still saddened by the untimely loss of our senior class president Ann Fagan Lovasz , who you’ll see in the above program gave the invocation at our commencement ceremony.  (Ann passed away in 2014 after a long, courageous bout with cancer.)

“But whatever road you choose, I’m right behind you win or lose… forever young.”

Just like I had supportive parents, and uncles and aunts, and friends behind me I feel I should return the favor to the next generation of graduates in our family.  That’s one reason I showed up to support and congratulate, and I thoroughly enjoyed Friday night.   I look forward to watching my nephew’s story unfold.

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Good luck awesome nephew!

Released 10 months before I graduated, this Rod Stewart song peaked at #12 and the video features the strangeness of Rod holding a random (albeit cute) little red-headed boy on the back of a moving vehicle while singing to him.  Remember when you could ride in the back of a pick up truck.  Today, they’d slap Rod with a hefty fine, and call DHS in to investigating possible child endangerment.

Regardless, let’s enjoy the sentiment, and Rod’s fantastic 1988 hair, and may you, the reader, (and possibly a graduate yourself) also remain “Forever Young”

Thanks for reading

sincerely,

the 80’s

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