By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER, InDepthNH.org
In my mind, I am often asked to fill in for a graduation speaker who has fallen ill.
She or he or they have perhaps become sick with Covid or simply overslept. Alas, I am perennially ready with my speech – here goes, Joyful Musers, here goes.
Welcome Graduates, Parents, Faculty and Staff, Alumni, Friends and Relatives, Service Animals.
My name is Susan Dromey Heeter and I am filling in for your speaker. I thank you for the opportunity but the truth is, it is last minute and you really had no choice. Nevertheless, in your honor, in gratitude for all you have done and will do, I thank you for allowing me up on this stage, to speak to you, to share with you wisdom, grace and joy as you go forth.
First off, wisdom. Floss your teeth. And do it before you brush them so it will feel wrong not to brush your teeth without having first flossed them. Your sixty year old gums will thank you and you will not regret going to the dentist.
Read. A lot. And not just tweets and Facebook posts, but books, newspapers, in depth reporting. Read in the waiting room of the aforementioned dentist’s office, read before you fall asleep at night, always have a book going. Read on the beach, in the airport, read to your future children. Read.
Get to work early, get to airports early, go to bed early. Early is a lovely word unless it is associated with death or hairline recession. Early is where it’s at – best seats, quiet, best views in the house. Early is the Vitamin C of life, the Pilates of wisdom. Late is clogged arteries and flatulence. Be early.
Grace, dear Graduates, is what you will show your parents and relatives and guides who have brought you to this place. And you will not do it with a simple “thanks, Mom” you will write a heartfelt note, you will clean the bathroom, you will do your own laundry and you will pay rent should your plans include moving back home. Yes, dear Graduates, that is grace, that is dignity, that is honoring those who worked their tails off so you can walk across this stage.
You have it in abundance, do share, it becomes you.
Finally, celebrate that joy of knowing you have shown up and taken the tests and done the internships and worked to get this degree. Know it’s your duty to celebrate your joy, to celebrate you. You’ve put that joy of knowledge of education to work. That is joy. A wonderful mind and opportunities are joy. Celebrate yours.
I celebrate your flossed teeth, your wisdom, your grace and your joy. Godspeed, dear Graduates, pay your rent, write your notes, read and move on with dignity and grace. Be early. Thank you for letting me fill in. I muse joyfully for all of you.
Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.