It seems like a couple of years ago that my infant grandson, Alex, had a Service of Dedication of Parents and Children here, officiated by Herb Adams. It was actually twenty two years ago.
On Saturday Lory and I drove to Hampshire College to watch him receive his college diploma, Bachelor of Science in Organic Chemistry. It was one of those special moments in the life of a grandparent – one of those moments hard to describe, but for which description is probably not necessary.
The Commencement speaker was Winona LaDuke, environmental activist and former Green Party vice presidential candidate recognized for her work on issues of climate change, sustainable development, renewable energy and for environmental justice in Native America. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota.
While I appreciated LaDuke’s talk to the graduates and their families I was most impressed with and moved by a talk from Hampshire’s long-term cafeteria cashier, Roberta Tudryn. During her 33 years in that job she raised five children and welcomed 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren into the world, as well as inviting five foster children into her home. She spoke personally and lovingly to the graduates with many of whom she had developed a warm, caring relationship.
I appreciated what Ms. Tudryn had to say, and how she said it, but I was especially impressed by the fact that she was on the speaker’s platform – how often have you seen a cafeteria cashier give a talk at a college commencement ceremony?
Alex’s sister, my granddaughter Hannah, is going into her senior year at Hampshire, where she is majoring in dance. Her Service of Dedication was officiated here twenty years ago by my friend and colleague Dick Drinon.
Herb and Dick are gone, but far, far from forgotten. The next generation takes center stage – and so it is, and so it has always been, and so it will be.
On the day of Alex’s graduation we got a call from Jerusalem, where Carlyn is touring with a group of Jewish college students, sponsored by a foundation, Taglit-Birthright Israel, which provides the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 in order to strengthen their sense of Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.
Carlyn said that the group was asked who among them had not had a bar/bat Mitzvah – she was one of three young women – they were invited to have their bat Mitzvah there, and each of them accepted.
Carlyn went to Hebrew school at Temple Israel for several years but decided not to do her Bat Mitzvah when she completed those classes. Last Saturday, in Jerusalem, she welcomed the opportunity to become a Bat Mitzvah, making it a very special trip which she’ll never forget. Memories endure and live in us to enrich our lives. It’s as simple as that.