I sit in one of my favorite places on the Purdue University campus. The balcony off the Union building. It is only a floor above the sidewalk, but it is a view of campus life.
Today, many people, other than students, are meandering around. This is graduation weekend 2012. My daughter Kristen will take the walk across the stage at the Elliot Hall of Music Saturday morning.
As I sit and sip my cinnamon dolce latte, I once again come to the realization. I love this campus. It is here I matured and developed into much of the adult I am today. On this campus I felt secure to explore new boundaries; establish new friendships, keeping some forever, others a fleeting moment. I investigated love and it’s highs of first encounter to the eventual low of break-up.
When I was at Purdue, 1977 through 1981, I lived for three of those years in Windsor Hall, which consists of five separate buildings. They look like they sound, fashioned after the Windsor Castle of England. As residents we enjoyed three meals prepared in our small cafeteria and once a week the cleaning staff left fresh sheets for our beds. I felt the security of home and the adventure of a parent not always looking over my shoulder.
My experiences involved what many students of yesterday and today did. Parties, dancing, football weekends, basketball games and studying. I grew on this campus. The people and even the buildings surrounded me with love. Today, as I sit and enjoy the beautiful blue sky and the cool morning warming to a perfect spring day; I am once again filled with warmth, happiness and the knowledge that all things are still possible.
Today is a beautiful day in upstate NY. I am spring cleaning, going through closets. In one closet I found clothing that belonged to my Mom. I put them there at the end of last season. Her closet, where she lived, was very small and so I would change out her clothing as the seasons changed. So many of these items brought back a memory of when she last wore it. I found the Roots Olympic hat we bought her. She always looked so cute and proud of herself when it sat jauntily on her head. There was her beautiful camel-hair coat. I remember when my father bought her that, so many years ago. She always wore it with pride. And the light blue cardigan I remember my father wearing. When he passed Mom began to wear it. In her later years I think it gave her comfort. I gave some of the items to family members, I kept the hat.
In my oldest daughter’s closet I found all of her mementos that she had saved. She has since moved into her own apartment. These are the treasures left behind. Ski racing trophies, prom dresses, pictures. I know I can not decide what to do with these memories so I will leave them for her to go through. But, I spent some time reflecting on the little girl now grown to a young woman. Part of me misses those days, when she was always by my side. But, then I realize what I truly wanted for her has been achieved. She has grown from my arms and moved out into the world. She has become the amazing person I dreamt of her being.
In my youngest daughter’s closet I found similar articles. Trophies, prom dresses. But since she has not officially moved out of our house, she has left behind items she still needs. This weekend she graduates from Purdue University. How did four years go by so quickly? I know she is itching to find her own place. I don’t blame her, I remember trying to move back with my parents during summer breaks, it wasn’t easy. Because she has become independent and self sufficient, she doesn’t need my guidance everyday. I see in her the courage and ambition to find a career and make a life from underneath my wing. I encourage her to go. But I will miss her.
Don’rt forget my essay Another Mother can be heard tonight on www.wamc.org. On the program 51%, starting at 8:00 pm until 8:30pm.