Graduation brings a new chapter

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Life is made up of a million and one ordinary days, but into this mix are sprinkled some truly momentous moments, usually spread out with wonderful harmony and the balance of time.
For me, this week has carried an enormously powerful punch of emotion, as I have watched both my son and my daughter graduate from high school. Pass the Kleenex, please. And keep ’em coming.
Accomplishments. For those of you who have read this column for a long time, you realize that this accomplishment for both my son and my daughter is one that at one time seemed mighty far away.
Cort, 20, said he has no regrets about the fact that illness delayed his progression through high school. He recently told a journalist this, and the man questioned him further.
“Well, if I hadn’t gotten sick and forced completely out of life there for a few years, I would never have met you on this particular day. I would be off doing something else. That’s just one example,” Cort answered.
Once on track for athletic achievements, he looked forward to high school in hopes of possibly landing a sports scholarship or two. Lyme disease changed all of that.
His life was changed in more ways than most people could handle. Battling through pain and weakness from 11 on, Cort simply came up with a new game plan.
He was told by at least two different doctors that he could certainly apply for – and win – full disability and put education on hold. His response?
“No way. I want to make something of myself.”
He refused to drop out of school and take his GED. He wanted to go to school if at all possible and continued to try catching up on his education.
Success. He ended up not only catching up but excelling at the county career center. During graduation ceremonies this past Wednesday, Cort was awarded a college scholarship in memoriam of a teacher who passed away very unexpectedly just three months ago.
My daughter, once sidelined by health problems herself, finished out her high school career among life-long friends in a class blessed with close ties.
During the farewell assembly, Caroline was named “class sweetheart” which makes a mom incredibly proud.
As Pomp and Circumstance swelled through that gymnasium, so did my emotions. I watched those great friends and classmates and recalled the day I met many of them – on their first day of kindergarten. They were so tiny and needy, asking for help in tying their gym shoes.
New chapter. On that day, the event of graduation seemed so incredibly far off. Blink twice, and these children are young adults, all dressed in cap and gown, ready to take flight in an independent journey.
With a turn of the tassel and a toss of the cap, a benchmark moment is acknowledged. What a joyous, incredible event in a life! And a new chapter begins.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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