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Friday, June 03, 2011


It's not often that I post anything that doesn't eventually come around to Linux or open source software.

This would be an exception.

Yesterday, on the 2nd of June 2011 at 3:57 PM,  my daughter Amanda Brooke Starks crossed the stage to accept her high school diploma.  She did so with the grace and humility that has gotten her this far in life and I am so proud of her I could just combust.

I won't, but I probably could if I focused.

It isn't that she simply graduated high school....she did so within a fairly restrictive and negative environment.

Amanda's mom and I divorced in 2008.  Happens all the time, not a big deal in the scope of things but I worried and stressed over her reactions and abilities to cope.  I worried about it a lot.

Not to worry Dad....she'll be fine.

That's what I told myself constantly.  I watched her from a distance and as I saw her accelerate as a student and as an individual, I began to relax a bit.

A little bit.

Yesterday, I walked into the Frank Erwin Center where an assembly line of high school graduations were taking place.  Crockett High School was scheduled between 3 and 5 PM.  I took my seat at 2:55.

I sat by myself.  I eventually saw Amanda's mom and the large group of family and friends that came to celebrate Amanda's achievement.  It just wouldn't be comfortable to join them.  It would have been clumsy for everyone.

I fiddled with the graduation program in my hands for several minutes before it dawned on me that I might want to look at it.

Standard fare for a graduation program.  Rich yellow parchment...easy-to-read text.  I scanned the 481 graduates listed in alphabetical order and inwardly many to cross before my Daughter.  The place was packed and I was in a lousy position to take any pictures with my Nikon point-and-shoot.  No matter how much I zoomed, it was an indistinguishable mass of caps and gowns...

And they all faced away from me.

But it was in a few seconds, all the worries, all the guilt and stress was lifted from least for now.  In the middle of the "achievements" page was the announcement for The National Honor Society.

Amanda was there...listed in the top 5 percent of her class.

I quietly wept...I gave my thanks to my God and to my ex-wife for doing things I was not there to do...

And I thanked Amanda.  For exploring and achieving her potential, for seeing her life as reaching farther than the next Facebook posting....

And for understanding that her Dad was there...but invisible.

So here's to you kid.  We'll go together to Texas Tech University on the 14th through the 17th and get you registered for classes and we'll talk about the next four years.

Maybe beyond...

My little girl wants to do her graduate work at MIT.  She will become a nuclear engineer.

I remembered back to the day she was born.  She was a blue-tinge baby and the doctor handed me the swaddled bundle so I could walk her up and down the hall until she gained her color.

Not to worry Dad....she'll be fine.

There are some things a divorce just can't break.

All-Righty Then


Paul Sams said...

Congratulations Ken. I remember one of your writings where you spoke of your daughter as a small child sitting on your lap as the two of you played Tux Racer. There are things that are priceless. Your daughter accomplished her academic achievements in a world where school funding cuts are too common. We also had a graduate in my family(Grandchild). I wish you the best and hope your case of maltuition is tolerable. It may bring tears to your eyes also! Have a great day and stay swelled with pride,(no pun intended, I shop at the big and tall store!)
Paul Sams

Unknown said...

Thanks Paul.

Yeah, Diane is already buying me "extra long" tails for my button-downs...lots more real estate to traverse before it gets tucked in.


Michelle Minkin said...

You made me cry. I've been thinking of my dad since I read this. He's been gone for 6 years now. Amanda is lucky.


Anonymous said...

I find it sad that you had to be there alone. That you felt you couldn't be with others who celebrated her graduation.

It just seems sad.

Mike Regan said...

Ken, your post struck a chord with me. I am a divorced dad and I can't tell you how much I beat myself up for not being there for my daughter during her high school years. I found that once she was out of the house and on her own, it was much easier to become part of her life. Maybe once she enters college, you won't have to be such an outsider like I was.