My Old Bones Are Ready for This Day
by Dick Wilson
May 17, 2003: University of Maryland Graduation Listening to the commencement ceremonies, I have ample time to look around at my fellow students and muse about the long journey that brought me here. Older by triple than most of the other students, I am the second-oldest man in the graduating class, about the age of my classmates grandparents.
With about 2,000 other graduating students ahead of me (they do it alphabetically, and my name, alas, starts with W), I await my turn to walk across the stage and receive my diploma. Sitting for three hours in the large field house, in a chair that is far from comfortable, I am as thrilled as any other graduate, so I dont mind the wait except that my bones are starting to ache.
Bones. Dry bones. My bones.
That came in a dream a few years back. In this dream, I had some bones, which I knew were mine, in a box, and I was shaking them, not with any particular rhythm. The sound of their shaking was exactly what you would expect from bones very dry, brittle bones.
The dream, curious as it was, and my poor old brittle bones in the dream, meant nothing to me except to make me think about the shortness of life and the need to get things done while the doing is possible.
I thought about my short-lived college career during the late 1950s of the previous century. I had left college at that time, after a couple of semesters, when the opportunity came to embark on a new career as an air traffic controller. I had military experience in air-traffic control, and it was exciting work. So I dropped out of college and went to work for the Civil Aeronautics Administration.
I remember well the day I made the decision to drop out of college. I was excited about the new job, and the prospect of a real paycheck coming in on a regular basis was alluring. Yet I knew that I was making a choice that would change the rest of my life. And so it did. I had a good, long career that I probably would not change now if I could. But there in the back of my mind, rattling around like those old bones in the dream, was the sense that I had missed something.
What I had missed, I felt, was the college degree that I had started on so many years ago. So, one day in the early 1990s, I decided to continue working toward that degree. I enrolled at the University of Maryland, started taking courses (usually two courses per semester), and now, in 2003, the degree is mine.
It was difficult sometimes, but no more difficult than it is for any student. At the beginning of every semester, I told myself to make it through one semester at a time and not worry about the degree. Suddenly (it seemed sudden, anyway), I had met all the requirements and reached the end of the quest. Thats how I did it.
Now its time to put those old bones to rest.
Dick Wilson, a proofreader for Bay Weekly, confesses he is already bored. Never mind. Writing stories will fill his time.