Treena Mielke

Mielke: Graduations bring back fond memories

On June 29 of this year, I joined the ranks of VIPs who were lucky enough to watch a dearly beloved grandchild walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma.

Oh my goodness. I’m so proud. It was like in that shining moment in time when I sat there with the parents, the in-laws, and the friends, I had never been there before, never attended a graduation, never clapped and cheered and smiled at everyone with a benevolence born of nothing short of pride and joy.

In spite of our best efforts, we were almost, but not quite late, and when we walked into the Centrium, the crowd had already swelled to several hundred people.

“Is this just one school?” my friend, who had agreed to accompany me on this momentous occasion,” asked incredulously.

“Yes,” I said. And as if to verify my words, ‘Notre Dame High School Graduating Class 2022’ flashed on a huge screen. “Wow,” he said.

And so, it began.

The graduation ceremonies.

My dear grandson’s last name is McDonald, so I knew it would be a while before the moment we’d all been waiting for arrived.

And in that time frame, as I sat, demure and dignified just like a proper grandma, my mind drifted out of the Centrium, pausing here and there to recollect, recall and remember.

I think of all the graduations I’ve attended in my lifetime.

And I think of my own.

The ‘60s were almost done when I graduated from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.

I wore a tightly fitted floor-length, lacy yellow dress. When I walked across the stage to receive the coveted diploma. I had no parents in the cheering section, but I had my brother whose pride in me was as shiny and bright as his newly polished shoes.

I loved that guy a lot, even though he teased me mercilessly about taking such tiny steps across the stage.

“You took forever,” he told me.

Our last name was Warden and, no doubt, by the time the ‘Ws’ were called, people in the cheering sections were getting restless.

I smile as I remember. Obviously, my brother never had to maneuver high heels under a tightly fitting grad dress. Anyway, I graduated on a Friday and by Monday I was a working girl, one of the young recruits hired at Michener Centre.

I personally never chose to go through many of those doors that my diploma opened for me. But I see my family moving on, always learning, growing, and taking the next steps forward to be the best they could be with their formal education.

By the time they get to the “Ls” I’ve relived my son’s graduation from high school, Olds College and finally Bozeman University in Montana, my two daughter’s graduations from high school, Red Deer College and the University of Alberta. I have to say that at this point I’m feeling quite blessed and a little bit overwhelmed that I, who one day walked across the stage with barely enough credits to get a high school diploma, am the mom and grandma to all these very well-educated people.

My mind returns to the present and I look around and I smile at everyone like I have a secret. They smile back. They probably have one, too. I’m thinking.

And then there it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Jackson McDonald. That’s him. That’s my grandson.

They call his name, and we clap, and cheer and yell and we all feel enormously proud.

And then we go home and put up our Canada Flags.

July 1. Canada Day.

It’s fun. It’s good. And it’s another reason to celebrate.

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.