I think a graduation generates such a response because it signifies hope and promise, much the way a birth of a child or the marriage of two lovers does.
These life milestones — mile markers really — are auspicious events. In newborns, it’s the clean slate with which they arrive to begin their new life. For couples headed down the matrimony path, it’s the life they pledge to share together. And with the graduate, it’s the hope for a dynamic future, and subsequently, a good life.
I knew this graduation would wreak havoc with my emotions.
First, he is the baby of the family — even though it’s hard to consider him such when he’s also the tallest. Once he leaves for college, we will definitely experience a shift in household dynamics, and I anticipate I will have something unusual at my disposal: time. I have dedicated millions of ticks and tocks to Unit #3 in particular, as he is an athlete, which is consuming.
Second, I’m also smack dab in the middle of menopause, so the floodgates open for my tears on a regular basis.
Third, I cried at all three of my sons’ graduations because to me, it really is a watershed moment — one which marks the end of a long “mandatory” educational career, adolescence, and family focus — and heralds the beginning of new, uncharted waters. Most likely, that will include leaving home and our family dynamics, higher education, young adulthood and well, the sky’s the limit if we even want to consider limits.
In the case of this son, who has held the dream of becoming a major league catcher since he was 6 years old, it has been especially gratifying to watch him progress through the sport to his recent signing to play college baseball.
Although I’d wager many young boys and girls have professional athlete aspirations, I often hear adults talking about how tough it is to “make it” and citing the reasons why they won’t rather than supporting these lofty dreams.
I’m no dream killer. No matter what the odds, I sincerely believe any of us can do whatever we set our minds to. You want to play ball for the Red Sox? Well, you work hard and go get it, honey. After all, someone has to be their catcher. Why not my kid, or yours?
I believe we should be gutsy when it comes to our dreams. Take your best shot. Believe in yourself. Do the work. Make the effort. Go for the gold.
Even recruiters and coaches were quick to point to the looming college education as the real goal, or the real prize. I’m not knocking higher education, but that can be achieved many ways along many timeframes. I knew we had a winner when one coach who recruited my son said, “Hey, if the major leagues don’t work out, you’ll always have this to fall back on.” He gets it.
Others get it, too. When that slew of folks who know my son learned he had not only earned academic scholarships but had received an athletic scholarship to play baseball at the collegiate level, the well-wishes poured in. All of us can’t wait to see how his life plays out — and many hope to see him continue advancing in the sport.
As predicted, I had a mini-meltdown at the graduation ceremony, exacerbated by my camera not working — or rather, me not being able to work my camera. Thankfully, unbeknownst to me, some kind parents shot photos and video of my son graduating and sent them to me a couple of days later. More tears.
As for the actual day, I was pleased my husband, mother, two older sons, and a fiancée were all in attendance for this youngest Cobb’s graduation ceremony.
Immediately following, we threw a big party, where my heart was touched by the breadth of guests who attended to celebrate his achievement. Coaches from his many years in baseball stopped by. A memorable elementary school teacher, who had each Cobb kid in his class, also spent several hours with us. Aunts and uncles from Florida and New Jersey were in attendance, plus relatives who drove a few hours to say congratulations in person. Longtime neighbors, friends of the family, coworkers, teammates, and school friends all made appearances. Moreover, the daily mail has brought well wishes and financial contributions from near and far before and since.
I have been humbled by these expressions of support. My son has too.
Hope and promise. It never gets old.
This column originally aired in The Journal on June 14, 2015.