Last week my son graduated from UBC. In Chan Theatre of Performing Arts, I took my seat, one wave in an ocean of parents, and prepared to witness another right of passage in the life of my child. I was proud to be there, relieved that the education was complete, grateful my son had a job and hopeful that possibly, perhaps, the Sanders Bank would lose a customer.
What I hadn’t expected as I sat quietly waiting for the proceedings to start was the tsunami of memories, events long passed stored like a packet of lost love letters, ones that now reopened behind my eyes. I saw my first anxious day at medical school, the day when I worried that the Dean would approach me, quietly whisper about a misunderstanding, inform me I wasn’t supposed to be there at all and could I quietly leave? This never happened and instead the first day was the signpost for the rest of my life, the day I embarked on a new career, met my future husband and everything in my world changed for the better.
I recalled my own graduation 31 years ago, where I sat with fellow students, previous strangers now transformed into colleagues and lifetime friends, some that I still value beyond words. Through my son’s graduation ceremony, I felt the excitement of my own, one that had meant so much more to me because I crossed the stage with my husband.
I visualized my son’s first university graduation at UBCO 4 years earlier. There, his father and I listened to his thesis defense on the use of cobalt as a catalyst for hydrocarbon polymerization. Halfway through the presentation, I whispered in my husband’s ear, asking if he understood a word of it all and to my relief, he did not. It was then that we shared a favorite memory from our son’s childhood, recalling that this same confident young man who now stood before us was once a little boy, one whose favorite toy was the egg beater and somehow, over time, that, had led to this.When my tall son walked across the stage and received his degree under UBC’s motto, TUUM EST (Its Up to You), I was flooded with the memories of his birth and childhood, the bright, inquisitive and loving child who is no more, the one who has been replaced by something so much better, my son the man. It is this man I will congratulate outside the auditorium, the one who stands before me now, the man I love and respect, the one I welcome to the future.