Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Finishing Chapter Two
AJ Robinson

Last week, my wife and I took a little trip – to Jupiter. No, we didn’t jet off on a rocket or catch a ride in the Tardis, with The Doctor. It was Jupiter, Florida. We were down there for two days. It was important. Our daughter was graduating from college.

Yeah, that is important.

We arrived the day before the ceremony. There was a luncheon for Flagler Scholars. Our daughter received a Flagler Scholarship when she graduated high school; it meant she got a great education.

Not only did she get four years at the Florida state college of her choice, but she also got four summer excursions. She did an “outward bound” trip her first year, rafting down a river for two weeks. What an adventure.

The next summer, she worked for a non-profit group near her university and then interned at a for-profit company in the Tampa area. After that came the biggie. She interned in another country! She worked for a law firm in Ireland and we got on Skype almost every day to chat with her.

As she was graduating, they held a little meeting where we had lunch with the other Flaglers and some people from the college. After that, we headed to her dorm to get the last of her things. Standing there, in her room, I remembered the day we brought her to school, as a freshman. It seemed only a moment ago.

On that trip, our van was stuffed with her things: books, clothes, a papa san chair, games, she wanted a lot of games, so as to have fun with her roommates and friends, and her computer. Over the years, we got emails and phone calls telling us of the events of her college life. She changed her major, she had her first serious relationship and breakup; she made more friends. The local karaoke bar became one of their favourite haunts.

Now, there we were, gathering the last of her things, the papa san chair among them, and hauling them off to the car. The trip out seemed quicker than the journey in.

Then, the next morning, came the big event. As she attended an honors college, her graduating class was rather small and that’s putting it mildly. She was one of 53 seniors graduating! We sat in the audience with some family members who’d made the trip to attend the ceremony, the faculty and students marched in, and commencement began. It didn’t take long to get through all the students, and then it was time for us to honor her. We all went to a luncheon with her boyfriend and his family. It was a lovely affair, and I couldn’t help but think of how much she’d grown and changed over those four years. The second chapter to her life was ending. We’d seen her through her childhood. The college and we helped her through her higher education and now it was time for chapter three: a life of her own.

I had to wonder. How would she handle that? These days, what with the weak economy, jobs are hard to come by, even modest jobs. She was lucky, she had something lined up already and she was excited about it. Yet, she was not so committed to it that she was closing off other options. She still dreamed of moving to New England and possibly pursuing a master’s degree. So, who knows what the future holds for her?

As we drove off, leaving her to face the future on her own, I had to smile. We, all of us who had contributed to her growth and development, had done a good job. She was well prepared to face the challenges of her life. No matter what path she chooses for her life, I know she’ll do well. I have two last bits of fatherly advice to pass on to her. The first is a quote from a poem by Robert Frost, and it was one of my dad’s favourites,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

The second is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”

May you always take “the one less traveled by,” my child, I feel certain you will find that it does indeed make all the difference. May you find success along whatever road you decide to travel.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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