Our family, including Renee from New York, went to Chicago last Friday (6/14) for Charna’s graduation: two days of special festivities. Friday’s presentation, a baccalaureate service full of school-spirit and college talent, was held in the huge, packed Rockefeller Chapel. Unfortunately we were seated near the back and had trouble seeing and hearing. In my tenure at the University almost no school spirit was ever exhibited, so I found this presentation somewhat strange.
Twenty thousand people were seated in the main quadrangle on Saturday prepared to be rained on. The University has no venue large enough to hold the families, friends and graduates gathered together in one place.
It wasn’t anything like I experienced when I graduated. My college class had 400 students, one of the smallest in the university’s history. This class had 1300 from the college and large numbers from the graduate and professional schools. The other difference, which I loved, was the great diversity of the participants. My college class had 3 African Americans and 397 white people, mostly Christian or Jewish. I don’t think there were even many Catholics. Today’s convocation had people from all over the world and Charna graduated from college (with honors), not like her old grandma who barely made it.
After all the festivities the week became bittersweet, not with my usual nostalgia, but this time reality could not be ignored. My first visit was to Carol, who is now in hospice with lung cancer (and still smoking). Seeing her was a heartbreaking experience, only relieved by the presence my nephew and family, including my 10-month old great, great niece. She’s adorable, but the great, great part makes me feel very old.
The remainder of the week was much the same. One of my friends fell about a month ago and is having a terrible time recovering. I spent as much time with her as possible, broken up with visits to healthy relatives in beautiful places and additional visits with Eli, Charna and Hannah, Eli’s committed partner. I like her a lot; hope she remains with him.
On Friday I went to the Art Institute with Sandy. We saw a great photography show and all together had a fine day.
Sometimes as I travel I start feeling the world is getting just a bit too crowded. The worst thing I’m learning about getting older is that the answers to life’s mysteries aren’t solvable! (Remember when you thought old people knew all the answers?!) There are just more questions popping up all the time.
Yes, it is very hard to see your friends fade or get ill. The cancer that took over my much younger friend Lynn’s forehead was with us that whole visit.
Glad tho you were able to go. Glad too that you blogged about it. I miss you when you are busy elsewhere.