Ever since October 28, 1996 there has been a young my man my life, one that I love more than life itself. Over the past five years he has walked across a stage three times and three times he has been acknowledged as a graduate. Someone who has put in the work and has completed all that was required of him that make those walks. He has crossed the finish line victoriously each time, all with a smile on his face. He completed all of this while his parents went through a divorce, his father remarried, his mother remarried, he moved twice and he suffered the tragic loss of his younger sister. I know there are, and will be, students that have been through so much more, but I know all that this young man has gone through. This young man is my son, Jarrett. After fourteen years at Wilmington Christian Academy, two years at Cape Fear Community College and two years at UNCW he is done, finished, ready to take on the world. I know he will do well in the vast array of opportunities available to him because of his education. His bachelor degree is in Liberal Fine Arts Theater Performance. I guess you could say the world is now his stage. He has a tattoo on his arm that says it all, “First Wilmington, then the World.” Am I worried, sure I am, what parent is not worried when their child leaves the safety of the classroom for the millions of uncertainty of the work place especially if that work place happens to become far from home. No matter where the road of life takes him the one thing I hopes he knows, he can always come home.
After all was said and done on Saturday December 14, 2019 and the tassels made their way from on side of the mortar board to the other, it was over, Jarrett was now a college graduate. All the classes, all the studying, all the stress was now over. Not quite sure how he felt but I was one very proud father. As we made our way outside there was a sea of people all looking for the same cap and gown, just different faces. We stood on the steps to gain an advantage in our search, we scanned the mass of people looking for Jarrett. I finally spotted it, the cap and gown I was looking for. He was standing there talking to a good friend of his, Myron. Now, spotting him and getting to him were to totally different acts. I started moving in the direction I last saw him and like Moses parting the Red Sea the people just split. When I got to him I gave him a big hug and said, You did it! and his response will echo in my memory forever. He so humbly and simply said, “Thank you dad.” With those words the emotion sweep over me like a tidal wave, and it was all I could do to reply , “No sir, thank you.” This young man has a heart bigger than Texas. He never ask for anything and is always so appreciative for everything. He has a dream to be a performer, and I hope his dreams come true. He knows this world is not a friendly place and it can continually beat you down, but I know in my heart he will not abandon the dream.
It was Jarrett’s day, his day to shine and he did but the thought is always in the back of your mind, Lindsay. She would have been so proud of her big brother. So happy to see him smile and know what he had accomplished. In my heart I know she was there with us to celebrate Jarrett’s commencement. I remember her telling him, “You need to get a life plan, you need to get it together.” Well Lindsay Lou he did it and I know you are leading the choir in a heavenly hallelujah.
Son, I am your dad and I can only tell you so many times how much I love you and how proud I am of you. No matter how many times you fail, or how high you may climb I will always be here for you. The one thing I never want you to forget, is how privileged I am to be your father . I can never say enough, for all the joy you have brought into my life, “Thank you son.”