Here are three stories related to my college graduation which I think are worth retelling.
On the morning of my graduation from Tufts, the doctor who had tended my mother for the previous fifteen years came to the house to look in on her, now terminal and mostly bed- ridden. Dr. McCormick, who had always shown an interest in my school performance, commented to my father that he must be very proud of me that day and asked why he wasn’t getting ready to go to the graduation. When my father said he was not going to the ceremony because he had to stay with my mother, the doctor said, “Oh, no. You can’t miss that. Dorothy has worked too hard. I’ll stay here with Hazel. You go to the graduation.” And so he did. Can you even imagine that happening today?
When I arrived at graduation and received a booklet, much to my surprise I discovered that I was being awarded my diploma magna cum laude. The ceremony was to be held outdoors, the officials and dignitaries covered by a canopy, the graduates in the open, under threatening skies. Toward the end of the speeches, there was actually a light drizzle. Next, the honor graduates were to be acknowledged individually and then the diplomas awarded. Instead it was announced that everyone could pick up their diploma from a stack in a cardboard box in Cousen’s Gym. Just ask any 1960 Tufts graduate what they remember most about that day, and it will be the unceremonious “awarding” of the diploma.
Back at my house, visibly disappointed by the abrupt halting of ceremony, my soon-to-be father-in-law created an impromptu awarding of my diploma. Everyone, including my mother, gathered in the living room, and in a deep, formal voice, he read my diploma in flawless Latin which he then translated. I took a bow, and everyone clapped. The diploma hangs on my wall today, and the only thing I can read is my name.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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