On Grace’s graduation

On Saturday night we celebrated Grace’s high school graduation.  This is the toast I gave.

 

When you were a small child, I used to talk about your being “smart and brave.” My dear friend Gloria, Whit’s godmother, reminded me of this a few years ago when she had a daughter. I’ve thought a lot about that exhortation over the years and I don’t know that it really captures my goals. The smart, I believe, is innate and therefore less a goal than something we just have and deal with. The brave is not inconsequential. The brave is the key.

Bravery is correlated with grit and determination and resilience and hard work.  All the buzz words of parenting these days, all things I hope for you and, more germane to this toast, all things I observe in you.  Bravery is about looking forward with optimism, about believing that the world will respond to a positive
attitude and hard work. It’s about assuming the best of people. It’s about giving things a second try, which you wrote your college essay about.

The story that I think encapsulates you the best over the last few years is one I think you’re tired of, but I’m going to tell it anyway. It was cross-country New Englands of your sophomore year at Deerfield. You guys were the returning champions, having won the year before. There was a lot of attention on your team and a heavy load of expectation. A couple of hundred meters after the start, another runner accidentally flat-tired you and your shoe came off. You stumbled, fixed your shoe, and got back up again. You were in dead last of the competitive group and you never one time, as far as I can tell, thought about quitting. Instead you gritted your teeth and took over a lot of runners over the next 3 miles. It wasn’t the race or finish you wanted, but I believe it showed who you are.

You’re made of grit, my girl, brave through and through, and performances like that one show you a lot more about how to build a life than when things go smoothly. The road ahead is dazzling, and I can’t wait to watch you walk – or run – it. But I know there will be other stumbles and bumps, and I also know you’ll greet them with your characteristic determination, good humor, and hard work.  I’ve seen you do it before – your Deerfield years were replete with opportunities to show your grit, from losing both of you grandfathers in your first 2 months there to the receiving of all your college decisions while alone in a house with covid.  And a million episodes in between.  This is how you make a path, how you greet the day, how you move forward, how you surround yourself with joy.

It is literally impossible for me to be prouder of you. Thank you for making me a mother. You’ll always be the person who did that, my Amazing Grace who arrived after 40+ hours of labor in the driving downpour. It was the last time, as I’ve often joked, that you were late.  I have loved you every day since then, and I will every day to come.

Congratulations.

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