A Lesson for the Graduate

A Lesson for the Graduate
My grade school graduation

I am guilty of being an ungrateful grade school graduate who had a lot to learn. At the time, I felt jealous of the enormous, fancy bouquets for my classmates at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy with different colored tissue paper and balloons. My Mom gave me roses on behalf of my family that were cut from my parents’ garden. They were awkwardly wrapped in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. I felt embarrassed and tried to hide them from everyone else who I was convinced were staring at me.

The thorns on those beautiful roses, I was too insecure to appreciate, represent life lessons that took me a long time to even begin to understand.

Lessons you don’t learn in school

  • Be proud of who you are and where you came from, which makes you unique – homegrown roses (the best kind!) and all.
  • Don't take things personally.
  • There is no time for mean girls - be positive about others and especially yourself.
  • Always do your best and ask for help when needed to build a strong foundation to be proud of.
  • Last, but not least - my Mom taught me how to save a penny as evidenced in her graduation gift. Similarly, I was the only kid who bought gifts wrapped in newspaper to friends' parties or had a pantry full of black and white generics circa 1985, but my Mom is wise about money and everything else!

Unrequited love

The next time I got flowers was a delivery from my Mom on a cold and dark February 14th freshman year of college. At the time, I was sad they were not from a secret admirer. I yearned for long stem roses. I now know those two gifts of flowers from my Mom were the tenderest gifts of all.

Congrats to the graduates!

Congratulations to all the graduates this year. And, may you be wiser for your years than I was. Enjoy this special time of hard earned celebration. I now appreciate that special gift of roses from the same garden my parents brought me home to from the hospital as a newborn. I have since spent hundreds of hours with my hands in that dirt, pruning those roses and planting more, which gives me infinite joy and time to think through lessons learned...

From my archive:

Three Reasons to Try Gardening

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