It’s time for endings and beginnings again

Published 1:30 pm Saturday, May 7, 2022

Winter to Spring to Summer has always been my favorite time of year as there are swell changes – the end of dead, dreary winter into the beginning of Spring bursting forth with life, then the warmth of summer with so much to do. Folks with no change of seasons (tropics) miss a lot I think not having four defined seasons as we experience here in Camelot…Oxford, Mississippi – with all changes perfectly timed so as we tire of one, another emerges.

Life mimics nature this time of year with many endings and beginnings.  This past week or so and the week ahead, has and will be life-changing for many as Ole Miss Spring classes ended Friday, April 29, finals week began this past Monday, and Graduation is today – 8:00 am in the hallowed Grove.  Lots of emotions are involved as one ending is the beginning of another, especially graduation which opens the “door” for our graduates, is a huge relief for students, parents, and if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience college finals week for four years (or four degrees…20 years of them like me) – you were changed forever…just nod your head and say a quiet amen if you passed…or, passed out….

Where did all this madness start?  Life doesn’t get much more intense than the transition from senior in high school to freshman in college – exciting for many, a wee bit stressful for others, like me, with my dad dying two weeks before and then almost flunking out.  

But my situation wasn’t uncommon as many students had to deal with severe familial/personal issues (including boy/girl stuff) as well as academic adjustments in the world of higher education with greater demands…this metamorphosis is a rite of passage, i.e., paying your dues, jumping through hoops like those ahead of us had to do.

Sophomores might be a bit aloof toward freshman this fall, and seniors won’t give other classes a glance.  But switch/boom if seniors go on to graduate, medical, law school etc., where they again become low dogs in the pecking order.  If one then pursues a second master’s degree, a “pass” is given as they have “scars” of passage already, and there is a certain prestige of being accepted into a Ph.D., program, or medical school where one’s name is forever altered with “Dr.” in front. 

But all is for naught if one fails to navigate the treacherous final component of the Ph.D., – the dreaded minefield of Comprehensive Exams (Comps) and Dissertation!  Those other letters to be avoided at all costs, ABD (All But Dissertation) were a strong motivating force for me to complete my Ph.D.!  Talk about rites of passage – before the Ph.D., one’s instructors were “Dr.” so and so, but upon completion with dues paid same as them, it’s first name basis….

Then there’s tomorrows May 8, Sunday Mass at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on University Avenue, steps from the Ole Miss Campus, which will prompt the most massive change in our church’s last 18 years…which is a lot – Fr. Joe Tonos will celebrate his last Mass’ as Pastor then officially becomes Pastor of St. Richards in Jackson, on Thursday, May 12, and Fr. Mark Shoffner takes over St. John’s the same day as our new Pastor … Bloody Hell – I mean, Alleluia!!

And tomorrow is also Mother’s Day.  Congratulations all moms – without whom all the changes in our lives would never have had a beginning!  Happy Mother’s Day, Gert, who made my beginning possible – I love and miss you and daddy!

Tuesday, May 10 is, ugh, my and Jag’s birthday….  Jag (Jaguar) was a kitten in 2015 when I first met him, was abandoned a year later, and adopted me – gulp!  Since I didn’t know his birthday, just added to mine to make it easier to remember.  Having never been owned by a cat before twas a huge adjustment – but what a swell beginning…thank you, God. 

There are sad endings as one ages losing close friends like on May 5 two years ago when my car buddy and close friend Norman Adcock died suddenly at a way too young age after being married to his best friend, our friend, Sherry Henson for decades – but also happy beginnings as on December 2nd with the birth of my grandson Cashius, to son Scott and Jocelyn.

Congratulations Ole Miss/Oxford students, graduates, mothers, dads, babies, cats, priests, parishes, congregations, birthday lads and lasses, close friends, and folks behind the scenes – parents, banks, bars, sports, Oxford, Ole Miss staff, faculty, administration, and most importantly – our custodial workforce who make all these beginning and endings possible! 

PS: Praying for a miracle that eight years of wrenching on my ’64 Land Rover is soon ending and driving beginning…! Amen.

 

Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on Campus and received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.