Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Graduation: A Matter Of Degrees

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James Martin
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This past Sunday our oldest son graduated from Wabash College, a small classical liberal arts college that is unique in that it is all male. The education he received at Wabash is second to none; from emersion trips around the world to personal relationships with professors recognized for excellence in their fields, and ultimately, to senior comprehensive exams encompassing the topics covered over their four years at Wabash. He and the 189 other men accepted their degrees from a school that "educates men to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely." We are very proud of him and know that he will accomplish great things. Especially now that we are cutting him off.

As the Wabash graduation was outdoors, degrees of a different nature were a factor. Reserving our seats required jackets, but by the time the music began the sun was out with the degrees on the thermometer increasing. As the bright sun warmed my face and the skin on my knees, my freckles blushed to a burn in the half degree. That means a shade just shy of a first degree burn, the same spring color I sport each year when I venture out of my cave six weeks after I see my shadow in early February.

It seems like just yesterday that we attended our son's graduation from kindergarten. He also wore a cap and gown when he accepted his degree in phonics, colors, shapes, telling time and rhyme from Dr. Seuss. I wanted to cut him off that day too, but thought social services would take a dim view of that decision.

His wonderful fiancee also accepted her degree this past Sunday. She graduated from Purdue in the morning and, along with her family, was able to attend both commencements. That is a high degree of commitment to commencements.

During this season of graduates accepting degrees, it makes we wonder is it still a commencement after it begins? What about when it ends, is it then called a denouement? I have been to many commencements (especially mine) that never seemed to end. I don't think there is an appropriate 'ment word for those hot and stuffy afternoons. Maybe someone with an English degree can point one out.

So to all the kindergarteners, eighth graders, high schoolers, college students and others graduating this spring: ConGRADulations on your achievement. You have accomplished a good thing, but there is more to do. It is no time to rest on your laurels, or on your hardys for that matter. The future is up to you, especially you kindergarten graduates. The pressure is on, it's time to step up, the cliches and metaphors are piling up, and the difference between success and failure is just a matter of degrees.

Last updated: 9:20 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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