Sunday, May 19, 2013

Celebration Time: Graduation of My Youngest from College

Yesterday my baby graduated from college. He will always be my baby, even though he is a man with a blossoming career as a musician, a BFA degree (woo-hoo), and a full and productive life in the San Francisco Bay Area. I continue to try to wrap my mind around the fact that we managed to put three children through college without experiencing the collapse of our fragile financial house-of-cards. Although I still help my children financially according to their individual and changing needs (and my ability), I am remarkably relieved to have arrived at this moment when I feel confident that my children are capable of supporting themselves and making their way in life without my financial support. An enormous load has lifted from my shoulders. I had no idea how much weight I was carrying around until I put the burden down.

This turning point in the evolution of our family deserves a pause for celebration. Although nothing extravagant (no fireworks or pony carts), we hosted a party in Oakland attended by a few close friends and together we took a moment to jump up and shout about this milestone. We viewed some of Sudi’s film work and we danced. Sudi’s siblings came to watch him “walk” at the grad ceremony in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. I baked my popular whiskey cake as well as a chocolate cake, and the cakes reminded me of my friend Nanette, who passed away in 2006.

Nan was big on celebrating and her hallmark celebration contribution was always a wild huge cake. For birthdays, anniversaries, and other life events, she would bake chocolate cake and decorate it with live flowers, plastic toys, sculpture, art work, and a frightening number of candles. Then she would set the cake aflame (get out your fire extinguisher) and demand that all those present “put blessings” into the cake. Once we managed to douse the conflagration, Nan would carve up the cake and give everyone a piece. My children used to complain that they found bugs crawling out of the flowers on their plate. One never knew what one would find in that piece of cake. But one thing was for sure, one would certainly find a lot of love, and blessings. Nan was a brilliant artist, who had studied printmaking at California College of the Arts herself back in the day when CCA was still called California College of Arts and Crafts. CCA is Sudi’s alma mater now too. Nan would have so loved to be with us at our celebration of Sudi’s graduation in person, but she was certainly there in spirit. She would have loved the fact that Sudi and his brother Akili both completed college degrees in the arts. She contributed to their creativity with all the projects she brought to the Ranch for them to do when they were growing up.

Ron and I instilled in our children a recognition of the importance of celebration, and Nan had a hand in that. She also demonstrated what it meant to live the artist’s life, to embrace creativity with all that it brings. We and many of our adult friends encouraged our children to bring their creativity to the celebratory experience. Once we had a tropical vacation theme for our Labor Day Weekend Bash at the Ranch and our children made colorful hilarious signs that they posted on the property to support the theme. And we dressed up and cooked tropical food and played tropical music and all that. Just one example.

On the occasion of the graduation of my youngest from college, I take a moment to appreciate the celebratory experience. Our time here together is relatively brief, and is filled with so many painful things that bring us to our knees, that we must remember to create a space in which to dance and rejoice when we are blessed with goodness. Hooray.

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