Maggie graduated from Shaker Heights High School Thursday night.
The women wore white. The men wore red.
Speakers reminded them of their common past and the opportunities that wait for them in the future. A graduation ceremony is always about the solid foundation the graduates have been given. The foundation on which they can build.
They’re told to dream big and work hard.
The superintendent reminded them of something I’ve told Maggie about college years. It’s a do-over. You get a chance to re-invent yourself. You aren’t surrounded by people who remember the way you are so you can git rid of habits and behaviors that keep you from being the person you want to be.
It’s taken me a lot longer to realize we get many do-overs in life. Any time we want to better ourselves we can. They are harder than starting again when you leave high school. But it’s possible.
Maggie’s class was the 97th to graduate from Shaker. Between four and five hundred students begin their do-overs now.
What do I want for Maggie?
I want her to be happy.
She’s smart, beautiful, funny, talented, and accomplished. I don’t doubt she can be whatever she wants to be. She can work towards many different careers and be professionally successful.
I want her to be happy.
Maggie observed kidney stone surgery recently. She is thinking of being a surgeon so she asked Manoj, her boyfriend’s father, if she could watch surgery one day during spring break.
She liked it – but it wasn’t bloody enough for her.
Manoj tried to fly home Wednesday night to be home for his son’s graduation Thursday night. The plane sat on the tarmac for three hours before the flight was cancelled. He managed to get onto a flight to Columbus and then rented a car with two other passengers and drove to Cleveland.
I want Maggie to be that kind of doctor. I want her to excel at her work and still put her family and friends first. What a great display of priority from a father to put that much effort into getting home for his son’s high school graduation.
That’s a mentor. A man who is great at his job and respected at work and who loves being with his kids. You just feel it.
During her senior project Maggie spent three weeks along with another student shadowing Charles, a kidney transplant surgeon.
She loved it. She’s more sure than ever that she wants to be a surgeon. Maybe she will be. Maybe she won’t.
In addition to surgical skills, Charles also modeled how to put patients at ease. He coaxed information out of patients that they didn’t know they knew themselves.
A couple of weeks ago, Charles texted Maggie some pictures of an organ from a surgery her performed after he had sent her and the other student home. He was still working.
He then sent a picture of Maggie and Elena that was taken when they were in elementary school.
Charles’ daughters had gone to school with my daughters. His eldest daughter had been a friend and classmate of Maggie’s throughout.
Their elementary school had hosted a 100th anniversary and posted pictures of kids from various years. Charles saw one of my girls and took a picture of it.
He sent it to Maggie as if to remind her that he’d known her since she was a little girl.
He’d always come to school events. We’d seen him at science nights and band concerts. And now he was mentoring her as she observed surgery.
I want Maggie to be that connected to the people around her.
Whatever she chooses to do, I know that she’ll be very good at it.
Mostly, I want her to be happy.