Last night was my nephew’s graduation from Grade 8. Like every other family, we collected en masse in the auditorium and slowly felt the oxygen leaving the room as the number of attendees multiplied exponentially. The ceremonies were late in getting started and after the first tapping of a finger on the microphone the noise of the audience was dulled and the festivities began.
The first thing that struck me about the celebration was the overwhelming difference from my grade 8 graduation to last night. The girls looked like they were dressed for the red carpet and the boys were dressed to the nines. Back in 19(illegible numbers) at my grade 8 grad, I recall wearing something that could have passed as a hand-me-down for Holly Hobby, minus the apron, and the boys wore jeans, running shoes, short-sleeved white dress shirts and clip-on ties.
The program for the evening kept to the letter of the printed description, minus the timing. As speech tumbled into speech, I made the mistake of leaning over to my brother and whispering something about the extended ceremony and the fact that the grad class may miss their boat cruise after the graduation. It was at that precise moment that my brother chose to whisper a response that not only shocked me, but made me start to giggle. Now, when you are in the middle of an important rite of passage for a 14-year-old, giggling during the ceremony is frowned upon.
I did my utmost to stifle the laughter but that only made it worse and a small snort escaped. This sent my brother into fits of silent, but convulsive laughter as well and we slowly lost control. Tears streamed down our faces as we sought some sort of relief from our fits of hysterics but, every time we looked at each other, the inaudible giggles were compounded by more tears and several sideways glances from those sitting around us, including my sister-in-law.
My younger nephew, who was sitting beside me, leaned over to quietly ask what was so funny. I could only respond with a wave of my hand and more fits of silent laughter while trying to catch my breath. Thankfully a somber moment in the ceremony grabbed our attention the restrained giggling came to an end. I wiped the moisture from my cheeks and eyes and avoided looking in my brother’s general direction for the duration of the grad ceremony.
My nephew graduated with Honors and his class quickly exited the hallowed halls of their alma mater to board the steamship that was waiting for their arrival. Like ants leaving a picnic, the cars sequentially left the parking lot and the evening came to an end. I got in my car, a few chuckles escaping as I recalled the fun I had with my big brother, and heard the distinctly familiar ring of my cell phone.
My first words were, “I’m still laughing”, and I could hear that familiar sound on the other end of the phone. We laughed again for another five minutes and I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see well enough to drive! That is certainly one graduation I will never forget – and when my younger nephew goes through the same ceremony, I’ll make sure my brother and I are not sitting beside each other!