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Al Batt: Graduates, mothers make world better place

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

You grew up too soon.

What were you thinking? You caught us all by surprise.

It wasn’t that long ago that you needed a shoulder to crayon.

I am here to speak to you. I realize that a lengthy commencement speech is anything over a minute long, but Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.

Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

I could stop right there, but I’m going to bloviate a bit more.

Graduates, I’m going to start my talk by quoting Steven Wright who said. “When I was in school the teachers told me practice makes perfect; then they told me nobody’s perfect, so I stopped practicing.”

You will be our future leaders. Don’t worry. That scares everyone just as much as it scares you.

Here are a few things that you should remember for as long as you are able.

The world is one small town.

Life is like a movie. There are good parts and bad parts.

That wisest of persons, Anonymous, said that school is like toilet paper. You only miss it when it’s gone. Buy more toilet paper. When you finish a roll, replace it. It doesn’t matter if it rolls over or under.

Stupid happens. A lot. You’ll take your turn at being stupid, but don’t worry, you haven’t cornered the market.

Sometimes not knowing what to say is all you have to say.

The future is coming and it’s ticked. If something can’t happen, the future will show you that it can.

Show and tell will become class reunions.

Often, good news means that there is no bad news. In Greek mythology, Atlas was condemned to bear the sky on his shoulders. Don’t take news that way. It could be worse.

Listen to others as they talk to you. Listen as if that person were your favorite celebrity.

If you want to feel better about yourself, thank a teacher, a bus driver and a lunch lady. One kind word is instant therapy.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”

Avoid stepping on cracks. You don’t want to break your mother’s back.

Never forget about Mother’s Day. An ounce of mother is worth a pound of laws.

My mother believed that we are on earth to make it a better place. Bern Williams said, “Sooner or later, we all quote our mothers.”

Sooner or later, we all quote Bern Williams’ quote about quoting our mothers.

Take a jacket. My mother was fond of telling me to take a jacket. I might protest that I didn’t need a jacket because it was 89 degrees and sunny. She’d reply, “That will change.”

It did change. Take a jacket.

Mom liked her coffee strong. It was ready to drink when the spoon floated to the top of the cup. When the new telephone book arrived, she’d brew up a pot of the potent stuff, sit down and have a look at the directory. The phone book was an ancient collection of landline phone numbers. Those were primitive times. Mom would look to make sure my father’s name and their phone number were included. They had only one telephone in those days during the Quiet Ages. Then she’d search for the names and numbers of friends and relatives. She’d write those names and numbers on a page of the phone book designed to carry commonly called numbers. It was a ritual of Mom’s. It’s not a bad idea to have a few rituals to celebrate the commonplace as well as the fortuitous.

When I was in grade school, I received stern warnings about the dangers of smoking. Then we made ashtrays in class to give to our mothers for Mother’s Day. Don’t smoke or make ashtrays.

It was easy living in the shadow of a mother who was famous for her pork chops and the ability to put everything she could find into a hotdish. Each child thought he or she was her favorite child. Mom wouldn’t tell my sister, my brother or me, which one she loved the most, but she did let it slip one day that I was in the top three of her favorite children. You should have plenty of favorites.

Your diploma doesn’t come with a guarantee, but do good and you’ll do well.

Set the world on fire, but stay away from ashtrays.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.