Drake’s Graduation

“The benches are full and there really aren’t any places left to sit but if you want to you can come up here and sit on my face.”  The eleven year old girl in front of me gasped and looked up at her mother, no doubt expecting her loving, over-protective, ever vigilant mother to disaprove and object.  The mother, caught off guard in a moment of awkward hilarity burst out laughing.  A few people snickered and others jerked their heads towards one another, and silently laughed as their eyes met.  The mother of the eleven year old girl looked at my fiance, since Isaiah was sitting with us, and Carla quickly said, “He’s not mine.”   I looked at Isaiah, who was sitting next to me, and told him, “Dude!  This is a family show!”  I was cracking up.  Couldn’t help myself.

There were thousands of people quickly filling the stands for the commencement of the 2017 Red Mountain High School graduation.  We arrived an hour before it was to start and the stands were already almost completely full.  Excitement and energy was buzzing through the stands and out onto the empty field where we all eagerly awaited the arrival of our graduates.  The sun was quickly going down after a hot May summer day and a breeze had kicked up, cooling this crowd and putting smiles of gratitude on most of the anxious faces.  I was surrounded by my people, my middle son was about to graduate, and it was shaping up to be an incredible evening.

As the young graduating class began to march out onto the football field in an orderly, organized fashion, we were in the stands reading through the nine pages of kids graduating that night.  We counted around 1,400 names on the list, and not to seem like a dick, but I wondered how they were going to call all those names, hand out diplomas, and get us out of there and back home before four in the morning.  They actually ended up doing a really great job!

Immediately after Isaiah’s comment, I started to think how I was raised to really care way too much about what people thought of me and what I said, at all times.  I found myself as a 45 year old man a bit envious of this 19 year old kid.  I realized that I wished I could be more like him in this aspect, and not care so much about what people thought or how they felt all the time.  Isaiah is comfortable in his own skin, and he’s not at all afraid to say whatever comes to his mind.  He’s not nearly as emotionally constipated as I am, and he is quick to speak out and protect himself and others.  He’s loyal.  I like that about him.

I found myself thinking about Drake as we watched him slowly walk in the line of endless black robes towards the seats awaiting them.  Did I raise him well?  Did I do a good job?  Did I screw him up?  Did I focus on the right things for him to help him succeed in life after graduation?  I know I wasn’t always a good example.  I wasn’t always patient with him.  There were many things I could have done so much better.  Times up.  He’s a man now.  He’s got this.  Will he be done with me for a while as he finds himself and begins to create the life he wants like I was done with my parents for a while?  Will he listen to my advice and think hard about choices he makes before he makes them or will he jump into life with both feet without looking or listening like I did and deal with the consequences?  Fact is, I probably learned more from you while being your father than you ever could have from being my son.

At one point during  Principal Ryan’s speech he said, “Knowledge is not power.  Execution of Knowledge is power.”  There were many good things in all of the speeches given that I hope all the graduates payed attention to.  I hope they all realize long before I did in life that they need to DO.  They need to act on their knowledge.  There comes a point in time where personal accountability is a thing, and it seems like graduation is usually the moment of awakening to this fact for most people.  Time to take charge of your life my boy.  I hope to God I taught you well enough for you to make the choices that will help you succeed in your life in a way that will bring you joy and happiness.


You are good.  You are strong.  You are loyal, kind hearted, exceptionally smart, hard working and you are a success.  You are giving, opinionated, protective and stubborn.  The thing I like about you most, however, is that you are my son.  As you begin this new life and leave the old one behind, remember that what you focus on grows.  Focus on the good.  Focus on the positive.  Focus on the good in every person and in every situation.  Decide exactly what kind of life you want and focus on that.  What you focus on consistently will grow and the more you focus on it the more you will watch it grow exponentially.  That which you choose not to focus on will disappear out of your life entirely as you aren’t giving it energy.  I love you, my son.  I won’t be around forever.  I hope our incredible memories we’ve made and anything I was able to teach you will help you in your times of need or self doubt in your life and I hope you will always make choices that will bring you good consequences and happiness.

Go out there and live.  Make your mistakes, learn your lessons, live your life, create your reality and always remember my love for you.


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