Friday, May 16, 2014


I haven't been so full of thoughts of classrooms, of lecturing, of writing a lecture since the first time I faced a roomful of law students back in 1989. The closer I came to this day -- the day I was to address the graduating class of 2014 -- the more I worked to revise the words of my speech. No, I shouldn't say it this way. Someone may find it patronizing. And this sentence needs tweaking. It could be misinterpreted. And so on.

The day finally arrived when I could make no more changes. Because like it or not, after this day, the graduating class of 2014 will have graduated and moved on.

For me, it was, of course, an early morning. I'm up at 5:30 these long days of presummer.


And initially, it is a morning like all others. I try to get back to bed for a few more minutes of sleep -- it doesn't work. Isis is up, Ed is stirring. Okay. Let the day begin.

Pancakes for Ed, the usual for me, in the sunroom, because for a brief minute it is sunny.


Ed then goes off to his techie meetings and I face my written text one last time. I read it through once. No, still need to change a word. Tear up printed copy, try again.

Fine. It feels right at last.

And I'm off, because the whole day has graduation events that I now must attend.

Finally, it's time: the ceremony that turns law students into JD graduates.

The processional. The speech of Justice Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Student speeches. My speech.

(taken by Ed)

It felt like being in the classroom again. But a bigger classroom. Faces of my students before me, but, too, I am very aware of Ed being in the audience (he had never heard me address a room full of people before). Of my daughter and her husband taking the time to be there too and taking the time to text my little one in Minneapolis, so she could follow along as best she could. Of my two friends, one in New Mexico, the other in Florida, listening to the live stream. And here's my farthest audience -- my friend in Denmark and her young son, tuning in at a seven hour time difference. People in Madison, people outside Madison -- I had them all in my mind and it was as if we were all at the podium. A remarkable feeling!

And with the end of Commencement, I said good bye to my connection to the Law School.

How to commemorate this step away from academia? Well, I go out and bought the new glasses I had been coveting some days back. Glasses that are far too expensive for a person on a retirement income.

And I come home to my three boys...

Isis, Ed, Oreo

...and to my three (foster) hens.

Ed and I cover my pots of annuals with blankets because there may be frost tonight. I then fix a supper of scrambled eggs and Wisconsin asparagus. With a glass of celebratory Cava.

And finally, I sit down to write this post.