White Dog had helped us pack up most everything we would need last night. This morning Steve carried his academic robe and stole out on a hanger. It was the Commencement Exercise for his students who had completed their programs and had graduated...although the school closed abruptly and denied them the ceremony we were now going to create.
"Commencement means beginning doesn't it," White Dog asked. I nodded. "Why is the end of college called a beginning then," she pressed.
"It is the beginning of a new life for those once students," I explained. "It is the beginning of going out into the world to find a job or continue their studies at a higher level. It is assuming the mantle of adult responsibility and driving their own destinies. It is change."
The White Dog Army had gathered around to hear our conversation. "Think about it, family. This week is a commencement for us as well." Some looked confused as I continued.
"Dad is making a new beginning as he leaves teaching. We will be part of that change as he will work regular hours and be gone during the day. Fortunately we will get to ease into the change. The architecture firm has agreed to let dad work part time for his first month before diving completely in. That way he will still have time to do some of the projects he wanted to accomplish and time for extra walks and naps with all of you."
"What if Dad doesn't do well at his new job or if they do not like him?" Stormer worried. "CA, dad has skills that will be appreciated and stretched. They will be different skills than he used for teaching but worry not, dad is very talented and the firm knew they wanted him the minute they knew he was seeking a job. He is an awesome architect and manager and quite knowledgeable in the specialty technology of his industry. It is a beginning we can face without fear."
"Can WE have a commencement celebration?" Zsofia asked. White Dog nuzzled her sister in recognition of her good idea. The room filled with "can we?"
I thought about their idea and also about the emotional catharsis the day would be for Steve. "We can but it has to be easy to put together without Dad's help. He will appreciate your efforts but will also be very spent." Ideas started flowing.
We settled on Greek food ("so we can shout OPA!" Sachi insisted). Steve and the Army especially like the sardines. And moussaka. And of course, gyros meat in warm pita. For dessert rice pudding rich with cinnamon and anise. A festive meal was put together.
White Dog begged Steve to take her for a "Dad and Me" ride when the order was ready and detoured him to the restaurant. When they returned we welcomed them with a loud "OPA!" and not so subtly lined up by the food bowls.