Posted Graduation Day, 5-19-19
This weekend marks(ed) graduation weekend for hundreds of thousands of high school and college students throughout this great land. Long speeches and visions of wild success and grandeur (or perhaps freedom) streamed like Netflix reruns throughout football fields and gyms everywhere. One thing is also for certain: The familiar-to-Americans-part of “Pomp and Circumstance” will be played over and over and over and over again as every student, whether in a wheelchair, with a decorated hat or without, marches slowly down their isle to take a seat. My son, a clarinet virtuoso in my eyes, tells me that repeating this song segment soooooo many times has made him feel as though the best part of it is when he gets the signal that it is almost over. We will see next year if he still feels the same as he walks instead of plays.
“Pomp and circumstance” seems to have been coined by Shakesphere in his tragedy “Othello”, when he penned:
I had been happy if the general camp, Pioneers and all, had tasted her sweet body, So I had nothing known. Oh, now forever Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content! Farewell the plumèd troops and the big wars. That makes ambition virtue! Oh, farewell! Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th’ ear-piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war! And O you mortal engines, whose rude throats. The immortal Jove’s dead clamors counterfeit, Farewell! Othello’s occupation’s gone.
Eeeek. (Spoiler alert) The sorrow of Othello from infidelity, deceit, battles and ultimately strangling his love do not translate perfectly to the thought of graduation, but “Othello” certainly generates emotions much like graduations do.
So, today my son heads off shortly to rally together with his high school band to play this tune through approximately 5280 times. If you have a kiddo graduating, a super congratulations to you! It is an exciting time! I had 2 last year and one next year!!
Speaking of graduations, we are noticing an interesting trend among the Sweet 17 that will soon bleed over to mom and her circumstances: they are moving them into the general population. Apparently, a dementia patient can be moved into the general population once they cease to be a flight risk, at least partially to save private or Medicaid money. Mom, an Alcatraz-level flight risk when she first moved in with her Sweet 17 friends, no longer poses a threat to end up walking to Wal-Mart or worse. She spends much of her day in her wheelchair or laying down, dreaming of kicking cans and throwing rocks and playing by the spring.
The fanfare of walking through the keypad-locked double doors, down the center isle into the memory unit, with bedrooms on both sides, and into the commons or dining areas to find mom will be something I will miss. I know all but a couple of the newest ladies’ names and a several things about each…enough to make the same small talk every visit. If she does get moved, I hope others keep visiting these damsels in distress too. Mom and my family will find a new group of friends in the gen pop, but we will never forget our original band of sisters. We will cross that bridge when we arrive.
There is so much we don’t understand about the inner workings of God’s plans in our more-complex-than-we-even-know situations. All we hear is the chorus of “Pomp and Circumstance”, the familiar part that is in our face and that our senses can process (even at graduation) and we too-easily forget that God Himself is the Maestro who is masterfully directing our orchestra and that there is much more to the song than we know. Hang in there patient, friend, caregiver, nurse! I know things are hard…mind-nummingly hard some days. In the end, some sweet day, in eternity in the future, perhaps the Maestro will let us in on the whole song and we can give Him praise for his masterpiece.
Here is a YouTube link to the “whole” song of Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No.1.” You, if you are like me, will start recognizing it at about the 2-minute mark. ;):
Mom was still happy as a clam today, but the beautiful sound of hearing sentences and recognizing a few things has been replaced with the beauty of her former dementia language and the more blank looks. In the Teepa Snow explanation terminology of dementia, I say that if you are going to accept the occasional pearl, you should also accept the oyster with love as well. 🙁