Friday, May 4, 2012

Graduation...and the Bucket List

Several years ago...I believe it was 2007...a movie called "The Bucket List" came out starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  It was funny and pretty much outlined the antics of two men who had reached a "certain age" and an uncertain future as they did all of those things that we all intend to do but somehow either never get around to...or think are impossible.  I remember watching it in the theater and thinking to myself..."Wow...what is on MY bucket list?" 

At the was pretty much..."get the kids paid out of Trinity..."

After that...also in 2007...Tim McGraw came out with a song called "Live Like You Were Dying."

Between the movie and the made a lot of us think.  I'll admit that I'd never heard of a "bucket list" and really had not taken the time to think much about it.  Life was blowing by in 2007...and most of us were blissfully unaware that the recession was going to make the past four years the struggle that it has been for so many people. 

Who knew?  Answer: Not me.

I'm not going to wax political here tonight...because heaven knows I appreciate those of you who are reading this and I don't want to make you feel like this isn't a safe place. 

(My Facebook status, however, is another matter entirely.  Love you anyway.  Mean it.)

In 2010...for some reason I honestly cannot remember...I was somehow inspired to write out some items on my bucket list...and so I produced a blogpost.  If you care to revisit this it is at

And tomorrow?  May 5, 2012?  Besides being Cinco de is also my daughter's graduation day.  She will walk the stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as a Marketing Major with a concentration in Consumer Marketing from the University of Alabama.  She will - ironically - be seated between a boy that liked her freshman year and one who liked her sophomore year after stating that she had hoped that she'd sit by someone she knew.  I looked it up in the program and found out for her. 

God does indeed have a sense of humor.

She already has a job lined up and she's moving home on Sunday until she can figure out where she wants to live.  We feel that this is her decision...but since she has to stay there at least a year...and pay for it...she needs to do this on her own.  And she will.

I guess it goes without saying...but I'm going to say it anyway...Big Dave and I are immensely proud of her.  She did it in four years...which due to numerous factors including having to choose a major at age 18, money, certain classes that are meant to make passing them mean something, curriculum demands, unavailability of certain classes when you need them or just the need for the occasional break...many take a bit longer.  I'm not knocking that at all.  The point is to finish...whenever.

I'm just saying that we asked her to do it in four years...and she did.

In 2010...on my blogpost...tomorrow was one of the things that I wanted to be here to see.  And I can hardly wait to hear her name called out and see her walk the stage.  If you want to join can go to and find the 2012 Spring Commencement and live stream it for yourself.  Isn't technology wonderful?

Sometimes when I look at Jill I see in my mind the baby that she busy, headstrong and high maintenance.  She still has a streak of stubbornness that I have come to recognize is really quite amazing because she trusts herself in certain matters.  On the other hand, she is open and receptive to good counsel...and appears to be incredibly resistant to what I'll just categorize as "drama"  in most areas of her life.  She is sure of herself...but not cocky.  She is independent...but not distant.  She is organized...but not controlling.  She is beautiful...inside and out.  She has pretty much exceeded almost every expectation that we have ever had for her...and has valued her family instead of turned her back on us.

There have been times when we have given her cause to do so. 

She will be coming home after graduation and will have to sort through four years of clothes, photos, momentos and items.  I don't envy that. Not that she wants to stay here long, by the way.  She thinks of home as where she is...rather than where we are and that is exactly what we hoped for.  She is her own person.

And a wonderful person she is. 

She decided to go to the University of Alabama after attending a football game in the Fall of her freshman year.  She had been accepted to Troy and to Auburn...but there was something about Tuscaloosa that captivated her.  It may have had something to do with a certain somebody that she was dating at the time...but I'm not entirely sure.  I think that she went because it stretched her beyond her comfort zone and she knew in her heart of hearts that she needed that.  Plus, it was two and a half hours from home...and she had to learn to be independent because she couldn't run home every time she wanted to.  After being with the same classmates since first grade...she was ready to go somewhere and be somewhat anonymous. 

Yeah, well, that didn't actually happen as it turns out.  She went through Recruitment, pledged Phi Mu and ended up with 87 pledge sisters and 985 dormmates in Tutwiler.   

But you know...she loved it.

More than that...WE loved it...this whole Tuscaloosa experience that she gave us as well.  We loved the traditions and the beauty of the campus.  How organized everything is and how much pride they take in doing what they do well.  We loved the beautiful Phi Mu house on sorority row directly across from Bryant-Denny stadium where we knew we could stop in and cool off on those game days that were a few degrees above Hades Lite. 

We enjoyed walking to the Phi Gam house with the McMullins her freshman year...and on the quad her junior and senior years because the Berneys were kind enough to invite us to drop by their tailgate spot.  That act of kindness meant so much to us over these past few years.

I love the Denny Chimes, Alabama football, and the friends that she made at UA.  I love that she met people from all over the country and friends that she has had all four years of college.  I loved helping out at Rush and when certain precious Montgomery girls would pledge Phi Mu.  I love that she lived in the dorm her freshman year, with three great girls her sophomore year, with one of the three her junior year, and in the sorority house with 44 other girls her senior year. 

She is moving out of the Phi Mu house tomorrow.  But she's ready.

(Seriously...she has already boxed and labeled everything...and she is ready emotionally as well.)

She has had classes with football players...was kind of sort of hit on by one of the quarterbacks her freshman year and has a funny story about it...and is friends with some of the guys who are now professional football players.  Several of them showed up for her 20th birthday party (along with a number of people that I'm sure exceeded the capacity of that little house they all lived in sophomore year) just because that's what they do up there. 

She thinks she looks better in crimson than in orange (sorry, Auburn fans) and truth be told...she does.  She's a "Bammer" and she has a right to be...after all...she has made it through four years of college up there.

Roll Tide.

But back to the bucket list...on it was "watch my children graduate from high school and college"...and last year I watched Brian graduate from high school...and this year...Jill graduates from college.  Amazing.

I'm extremely proud of Jill and what she has accomplished at Alabama.  That she had the courage to go...and had the persistence to finish.  That she has a lot of good memories...but she is content to pack them away and open the door to the next chapter of her life. 

A chapter that is going to involve working hard and waiting to see what doors God opens up for her.

But before we close this one...I'm reflecting back over her last four years.  The photos below don't really include everything she did...and doesn't cover all of the family events of the past four years.  But that's okay.  I'm kind of focused on the memories that comprised her four years of college.

It has really been a wonderful ride.  I'll try to remember that as we pay off student loans over the next ten years.

And one more item marked off the bucket list. Rock on.

Jill, Mom and Aunt Pitta in New York - December 2008

The Phi Mu House...Jill's home away from home in Tuscaloosa.

Montgomery girls: Haley, Anne (Jill's little sister in the sorority), Jill and Emily.  Emily was the 2011 Homecoming Queen.  Haley and Emily were Jill's roommates (along with McKinnon) sophomore year.  (2009)

Tutwiler Dorm (and an unfortunate shot of part of Brian's head) - Dorm Sweet (not) Dorm 2008-09

The Berneys invited us to come tailgate with them and we did!  Some of the best times we had in Tuscaloosa was just hanging out and visiting with people.  We went to two football games in four years...but we tailgated every home game during the last two years! 

Neal and some random Scottish guy on the Quad!

Jill and her pledge sister Katie - 2009

Tailgating with cousin David Devan (Penn State game), me, Brian and Jill - Fall 2010

Jill with Ashley Harrison before a pledge swap - 2008.  Ashley was Jill's pledge sister who was killed in the tornado in Tuscaloosa in April 2011.  She visited Montgomery and stayed in our home and was a precious, precious girl.

Anne, Jill, Emily, Haley, Molly, Tyler Ann and Sarah...Montgomery Phi Mus at UA - Fall 2010

Jill's pledge class...well...a lot of them anyway...2010

Southern Debutante Cotillion - July 2010 - Emily, Jill, Haley and Sarah

Big Dave (in less) with his baby girl - July 2010

Pretty Phi Mu girls - 2011

1 comment:

  1. I'm SO happy to see Phi Mu pictures!!! <3 I am a sister of Pi Chapter at the University of Maine :) I hope to chat with you soon!

    Rachel Boudreau