So that all went as well as I could have imagined, with even my two sets of kids – the nieces on up from Chicagoland, and the Harris and Lloyds kids to whom I'm also "Uncle Mike" – fell in together as well as I could have hoped, playing away with gusto, some of that in the basement, away from the heat of the hottest day yet this year. The day sort of went in phases, after things started up around lunchtime with the Harris showing up at the Lloyds' at about the same time as Mom and Dad, Leslie and Jim and the girls, and fellow graduate Dragos, who I had overheard at the ceremony being told by his director, Fr. Golitzin, that they would do their own dinner out later in the week. Michel bringing granddaughter Rayna over a little later, and Anthony and Kelly showing up with 2 year-old Kate after she had awoken from her nap. Crip and Lisa (also fellow graduates, who were staying at the Lloyds') showed up after seeing their own family off, and I think that was about it before my family headed home around dinnertime. Julia brought over Madeline and Janie some time after that, and talk and eating went on until well after dark, when we finally decided to take things down, clean some things up, and, since it was about 9:30pm at this point, put off our festive watching of the series finale of LOST until some other, more leisurely day.
The graduation was pleasant, as such things go, with an interesting speaker (Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive of Teach For America) and other impressive honorees receiving honorary degrees. These were Joan Biskupic, a Marquette alumna, noted as a Supreme Court biographer and veteran journalist, author of American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice, and several other books on the Supreme Court. Also honoured was Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice and founder of the Chicago Special Olympics, a precursor to the International Special Olympics. The last of the four was another Marquette grad, Janice McLaughlin, M.M., president of the Maryknoll Sisters and author of Ostriches, Dung Beetles and Other Spiritual Masters: A book of Wisdom from the Wild, based on her experiences in Africa, and On the Frontline - Catholic Missions and Zimbabwe’s Liberation War. Even though these last three did not speak, their introductions and brief bios from the faculty were engaging and inspiring.
I had good company in having Barnes by my side, since Father Fahey could not come from Boston College just to hood me. We were in the front row, on the aisle: as good a seat as I've ever received. Professor Barnes has put so much time into teaching and advising me, officially or unofficially, as well as becoming a good friend, that he was just as fitting a person to have ceremonially welcome me to the guild as my own Doktorvater. I whispered to him at the time, though, that I felt like "I missed it!" I was in a bit of a daze when I was on stage (the doctoral students being individually recognized) because Dragos, who was in front of me in line, somehow failed to have his name called, and so I had to sort of rush out past him, spending most of my time on automatic pilot while all I thought was, "What about Dragos?" His information was given to the emcee after I went up, but I was so distracted that I didn't remember to listen for family voices (my Mom gave a big yell from up in the high seats right when my name was called, making my Dad nearly jump out of his skin) as I had intended to, since I wasn't sure where they ended up sitting. I did snap out of it enough to return some skin to a former student sitting in the front row who offered me his fist as I passed.
Today has just been a bit of quiet relaxation/recovery mixed with starting to get ready for my scouting trip down to New Orleans tomorrow. I'll be there for about two-and-a-half days, with some time on campus doing paperwork, some time meeting what members of my faculty can be found and rounded up from their own just-begun summer vacations, and some time trying to look at rental properties. I'm trying to find something in the campus area itself, and I've been doing lots of internet homework on rental sites and Craigslist to that end. I took an hour off just a bit ago to sit with Erynn on the porch of the Papst mansion, watching the evening roll in and catching up a bit. We talked about our respective graduations ("I saw you!" she grinned: I said I looked back but didn't correctly pick her out among the crowd of the College of Communications on the other side of the arena) and immediate summer plans. She's flying off tomorrow, too, to Austin for the first round of NCAA competition, at the ungodly time of 4:30am. Now it's back to emails, phone calls and apartment ads. I'm starting to wish I'd made the New Orleans plans for next week!
EDIT: My sister tells me that it was her, not my Mom, who screamed out at my name being called. My Dad, who's a bit hard of hearing, didn't get that detail right. But I'm leaving the original text in there as it is, just 'cause I'm so tickled at even the thought of my Mom doing something so uncharacteristically loud. :-)