As a special treat today, I have Slim Randles with a fun post about graduation and graduation speakers. Enjoy…
When we filtered in for coffee at the Mule Barn truck stop, we were surprised to see Jim Albertson already there, already drinking coffee and looking as though he lost his last friend.
It’s so unlike him, because Jim’s job as principal of our local high school and middle school has been fun for him. He’s always taken an offbeat, creative approach to his job, and it is sometimes hilarious. So naturally, when someone’s obviously in pain, we did the kindest thing and sat down, surrounding him with coffee and questions.
“Yo Jim,” said Doc. “You look a little down this morning.”
Yes, that was a question and we all knew it.
“Tonight,” Jim said, “is high school graduation.”
“Off to see the world,” Steve added.
“The admiral can’t make it. Sick. In the hospital,” Jim moaned. “You know the admiral.”
We did. He grew up here before he went to sea. He lives in the capital city now.
“He was supposed to give the commencement speech tonight,” Jim said. “I have no one to replace him.”
He looked around. “Any of you want to fill in for him?”
No one. Vigorously no one.
“Not even you, Doc?”
“Not a chance. I just fix them, I don’t speak at them.”
And as the front door of the Mule Barn opened, allowing in one aging but active cowboy, camp cook and teller of tales, Steve grinned. “Here’s your answer right here, Jim.”
We all looked around as Windy Wilson smiled and came over to join us.
“Windy,” Doc said, “ol’ Jim here is looking for a speaker at graduation tonight. You’ve talked to young folks a lot, I know.”
Sure have. It’s a grown-up’s boundin’ delegation to pass along tips on living to those among us who are less contubationally experienced.”
Jim looked over at Windy. “You think you could have a speech ready by six o’clock tonight, Windy?”
Windy grinned. “Heck, Jim. I’m ready right now!”
We hadn’t figured on attending graduation, but now none of us would miss it.
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Now here’s Windy’s speech:
Greetings to you, graduates from this year high school, and your families out there who don’t have no caps and gowns like this year one I got and the kids got.
It is a memorizin’ day when people reach this millstone in their lives, and thass why we’re here to celebrate their futures and culminate stuff down from their prehistory.
I personable want to thank Mr. Albertson for lettin’ me use this year hat and gown and for givin’ me the chance to talk with you about all the good work you kids done to get here. I think we should also thank Mrs. Vinegar from the First Baptist Church for sharin’ her skills at hand signals in translatin’ this address for those who can’t hear it.
Oh, sorry. It’s Mrs. Van De Gar a-doin’ the signin’ today.
Lookin’ down on all yore happy faces puts me in mind of the time I, too, was wearin’ a very similitude of one a-them my ownself. Back up on the Rio it were. Nossir. That ain’t it. Was more up on the ridge jest above Thompson Ridge. You know … the one what ain’t got a name? Thass it.
And there I were, on this year ridge and I was thinkin’ about all yore happy faces these years in the future, and it made ol’ Windy here smile no end. Yessir. We grown-ups given you our best trainin’ and good food and let you play ball, if you was of a mind to, and it’s all leadin’ up to this year moment when we coagulate you all together and say, go get ‘em!
Mrs. Vineyard, you okay? Somebody get her a hanky, okay?
You know ever-dang one of us here today … and prolly a bunch more that didn’t come … wishes you well. That oughta give you a little spurrin’ to go out there and do right. Gotta remember that life is jest about all you got ‘til you go and die on us, so be good to it.
Have fun bein’ a grown-up, kids. You deserve it. And remember, when life gets bumpy, take a deep seat and a short rein and spur it over the shoulders on the first jump.
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If you enjoyed this bit of frivolity, you will like Slim’s book, Home Country, a collection of some of the best of his weekly columns.