I well remember the night you joined us in the open air of this world. Your Grandmother and I were at the hospital, eagerly anticipating your arrival. Our task seemed limited to holding your Daddy’s hand, for there was nothing for us to do but wait. But the anxiety was soon replaced by excitement as the announcement was made that you were the new granddaughter in our lives.
Grandma was so enamored of you, as she was of all her granddaughters. The few times you visited in our home while Mommy and Daddy had an evening out were pleasures that Grandma cherished. We can only imagine the pride she would feel if she could see you now! I have my own feelings of pride, for, even though we have not been close during your formative years, I have been aware of your progress. I know that your parents’ happiness is in large measure derived from the very existence of you. I have every confidence that while you have given them much joy to this point in your life, you will continue to make them proud, and happy, and they will continue to brag on their first-born.
You have always been an avid reader and a wonderful story-teller. I recall vividly listening to your tales during your preschool years. I can still picture you as you illustrated your story with hand gestures, enthusiastically engaging your auditors with words and action! You have traveled a long road since the day I visited you in Mrs. Hageboeck’s classroom. Now you are equipped to be a professional writer, a teller of tales who may, if you so choose, publish your creations far and wide. You have chosen to obtain the education and skill set requisite to such a career, and Indiana University has endorsed you for the activities by certifying you for the degrees you obtain today. Well done, Young Lady.
Like you, I have been a life-long reader, and thus I have great respect for those who write. I am conveying to you a little volume, A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which I believe rightly should be yours. I read this again just recently and find it a charming retelling of some very old tales. I am respecting your request to abstain from the giving of gifts on this occasion, but this particular book has a history. If you read the inscription on the fly-leaf, you will understand that I did not find this item in a used book store, but rather that it has been in your family for more than a century. You might take this as a reminder of your origins and heritage. Family is of critical importance in our lives. I am not suggesting that you must go out and do a bunch of genealogical research. I am suggesting that knowing where we came from serves as light to shine on the pathways we follow.
Finally, the advice that you would expect to get from a “seasoned” old man. If any of this should seem platitudinous, forget not that just because something is a platitude it is not necessarily wrong. I believe that it is important to recall daily that we, as the cap sheaf of God’s creation, are much more than a body and an intellect. We are spiritual beings. The temptation to please ourselves in the physical and intellectual realms while neglecting our spiritual being is strong. You will be pulled from all directions, the offer of fame, and perhaps riches, dangling before you. Acquisition of fame and wealth is not evil. But the neglect of one’s relationship with God is. So prioritize. Keep foremost in your life those things that are most important. I pray that I, and that you as well, will be able to say at the end of the course, as St. Paul did, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Please keep us up to date on your activities, from time to time.
Keep the faith.
Now, go celebrate.
We love you.
We love you.