I didn’t actually do a whole lot that day, beyond showering and changing clothes once my suitcase arrived, though later in the afternoon I met up with my sister Kim and her husband Dean to do my mom’s grocery shopping at Walmart.
Later, I went over to Kim’s house to visit, again, as I had the night before. Jourdan’s fiancé Andy had arrived from Arkansas, where, despite the fact that he was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he picked up an outrageous southern accent.
The two of them soon departed and went off to do engaged couple things, which I believe consisted of going to one of the many graduation parties that had been going on all week among all of the young people who would be picking up diplomas that weekend.
When Dean was younger he had a Big Brother – as in the Big Brother program – and the two of them have remained in contact throughout the years. His Big Brother was in town, as one of his sons was graduating from Michigan Tech that weekend, so he stopped by to visit as well.
Saturday turned cold, and found me doing just about as much, though I did help my mother do laundry.
Sunday was the big day for Jourdan. It was a bone-chillingly cold day, with a razor wind that felt as though it could strip the flesh from your bones.
It felt strange to be at Finlandia University (yes, “Old FU”), which was once known as Suomi College, and also once known as the place where I had my first “professional” job, and the first – though not last – employer to ever fire my ass.
The last time I was at a Commencement ceremony there it was in an official capacity, as I was in charge of Public Relations and had to take photos, find people for the local media to interview, and just generally run around like a (hungover) chicken with its head cut off.
It was nice to not have to keep running back and forth between my office, way the hell down at the bottom of a steep hill, and the gymnasium, all the way at the top of that steep hill, as I had back in those days.
The Nursing students were, naturally, the last group to walk the stage, and Jourdan, of course, was the second-to-last of that group. It was a very long ceremony.
The speaker – and recipient of the Honorary Degree – was an incredibly accomplished woman named Barbara Barrett, most notably the former United States Ambassador to Finland, and, honestly, least notably the wife of retired Intel Chairman and CEO Craig Barrett. That the latter fact is the least notable aspect of her biography tells you a lot about what the woman has done in her life.
One amusing thing that happened prior to the ceremony involved Andy and the Houghton County Sheriff, who is, as it happens, family (cousin). He was there for one of his daughters, and was sitting behind us. When Kim introduced Andy to him as Jourdan’s fiancé, he shook Andy’s hand, and then, before letting go, asked, rather ominously, “What’s your last name?”
Andy: “He makes me nervous.”
Eventually Jordan’s name was called, and as she departed the stage, she yelled, “Finally!”
Afterwards we went to Kim’s house for a small graduation party – the big party will be her wedding reception this summer. My mom, who’s still recuperating from pneumonia and from anemia, soon tired, and I brought her home and then returned to the party.
When it came time for me to leave – being both too old and too sober to be hanging out with a bunch of young revelers – Jourdan, being a bit tipsy, spent some time telling one of her friends about how much she loves her uncle and why, and provided a description of me that can now be seen over in the “About Me” section of this blog.
I was reminded of a time, more than twenty years ago, when I had been the recipient of some award or other back in high school. There had been a ceremony in the afternoon, which my mom, Kim, and Jourdan, who would have been two at the time, attended. During the social period after the ceremony, I was holding Jourdan, who had wrapped her arms around my neck and kept kissing me on the cheek.
I’m not ashamed to admit that the memory made me a little misty-eyed, and as proud as I am of the woman she’s become, I can’t help missing the little girl she used to be, but I’m glad to know that some things never change.
(I suppose it’s worth noting that during the party we learned about the death of Osama Bin Laden, but I don’t really have anything to say on the subject. I didn’t feel the need to dance in the street or anything like that, but I certainly think the world is a better place without him.)
|Jourdan walking in.|
|The US and Finnish flags prominently displayed.|
|Well, that's an Art student for you...|
|Getting her Nursing pin and diploma.|
|I can (barely) be seen here holding Jourdan 20+ years ago.|
Behind me is my friend Joel. My mom can just be seen
as well, and Kim is pregnant with my nephew Jeremy.
|Jourdan and I post-graduation. (Kim is in the background.)|
|Bonus: A dorky Jon receives whatever award it was.|