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Granddaughter’s graduation spurs reflection

Gary Lindstrom

My oldest granddaughter graduated from high school in New York Saturday. I did not go back for the ceremony. My sister from Iowa made the trip and represented our side of the family.

Tomorrow is Independence Day, and essentially Saturday was Independence Day also for Lindsay Pendleton, my granddaughter.

She graduated sixth in her class. We are so very proud of her. Graduating sixth in your class – and just the fact that you graduated – must feel so very liberating. So very independent.

When I was growing up back in Iowa, my older friends would always tell me, “If I had only known what I know now when I was your age S ” There was never a conclusion to that statement.

With my fertile imagination, I would be left wondering if they had seduced all the women on the planet or robbed banks for a living.

When I think about my first grandchild graduating from high school, I can get a feeling for what my old friends were talking about. I think that my friends were talking about “Too late, too smart.”

Lindsay is going to college. Good grades and a scholarship or two will get her on her way. The rest is up to her.

Someone else once said you are never smarter than you are when you turn 18. That is so true. When you are that age, you are bulletproof and know everything that has ever been revealed to man or woman. No one has asked me for advice after graduation, let alone my granddaughter. But if I were asked, I would probably say this:

Find out what you like to do and then do it. You will spend the rest of your life working, so you might as well spend the rest of your life doing what you like to do.

There was a book published several years ago entitled, “Do What You Like and the Money Will Follow.” I bought the book, read the book and promptly forgot what the book was teaching and went on with my life. I know there was a message there, but apparently I could not grasp it.

You are caught up in what you are doing or the success you feel you have. You end up being owned by your possessions. Your house payment. Your car payment. Your credit card payments.

And at the end of the day, you ask the question Peggy Lee sang about, “Is That All There Is?” Yup. That is all there is.

When I moved from New York City to Colorado in 1970, I felt I had died and gone to heaven. I felt like I was semi-retired, being able to live and work in a place most people in New York could only hope to achieve in their 60s.

I remember I cut my income in half when I moved here. Many years later, I had the opportunity to become a county commissioner and, again, I cut my income by two thirds of what it was before. Imagine being my wife and having to deal with a crazy guy who finds jobs making LESS than he was making before.

All in the name of doing what I wanted to do.

During the same period of time, I managed to have five children, six grandchildren, five college degrees and to have finished 43 years of public service, so I guess I was not that selfish. My life has been very full and very satisfying, and that is what I would want for my granddaughter as she begins her journey.

I hope beyond hope that she finds what she wants to do and then does it. Not to make money or to impress herself or others but to have fun. To enjoy life. To make a difference in this world. And to be different. To not be like everyone else.

When she reaches my age of 61, I want her to be able to look back on her life and see that she was unique. Lindsay Pendleton is a very special person today, and I want her to continue on that journey to be even more special in the future.

Gary Lindstrom writes in this space every Thursday.


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