"Let me tell you what's splendid. You're aware that my health is failing me. When you were home last winter, I wondered if I'd last even three or four more months. By whatever good fortune, I'm still here today in sound mind and of able body. And now you've graduated. What more could I wish for? Can you not indulge the joy of a parent at being alive, rather than dead, for his son's hard-won graduation? I know you have grand plans, and I know your graduation is only the start, so I suppose my fussing annoys you. Imagine yourself in my shoes, though. Things are quite different. Your graduation is far more splendid to me than it is to you. Can you understand that?"
There was nothing I could say. Too ashamed to even apologize, I merely hung my head. My father had been calmly resigned to his own death. He had convinced himself, it seems, that he wouldn't live to see me graduate. I'd been too far the fool to see what my graduation meant to him. I took my diploma from my bag and presented it to my parents with due respect. Something in the bag had bent it out of shape. My father carefully unrolled it.
"A thing like this should be kept rolled and hand carried."
"You should have set something in the center," my mother advised.
After examining the diploma for a time, my father rose and carried it to the alcove, where he placed it in prominent view for all to see. I refrained from voicing my usual objections. I had no intention any more of defying my parents. I let my father do as he pleased. The damaged parchment, though, had a mind of its own. As soon as it set in place, it wanted to pull in on itself and topple over.