My Open Letter to My 2023 Grad

I wasn’t one tenth as excited and emotional over my own graduation from high school (40 years ago) as I am for my daughter’s class of ’23.

Here’s what I want to say to her.

From holding you as a baby for the first time, to all the memories of pizza-and-movie nights, swingset pushes, nail-paintings and hide-and-seek games (where our late German Shepherd would always point me out), you’ve been my life’s greatest joy.

As many memories as we have, I hope for and look forward to many more.

There’s still so much to talk over, from family history (you come from amazing people) to hearing your thoughts about what’s going on around us in the world today.

Speaking of the world today, it’s an angry and confused place. Much of the outrage and divisiveness is really, in fact, doubt and fear. 

Some of the loudest voices are just so many scared, lost souls.

Try not to let the world change you.

In fact, I’m hoping you will change it.

Do not surrender when you know you are right.

Do not listen if someone degrades your value because of who you are, what you believe or where you are from. They will say you are to blame for past events and conditions of which you knew nothing and had no part. Such accusers are in a very hateful place, but you don’t have to join them there.

If I could point to one ancestor, it would be your grandfather Joe. You are named after his favorite saint and favorite uncle (no, they weren’t one and the same!).

Right at the moment you are at now, he left behind his high school and immigrant parents in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1943, to enlist in the Navy and travel to places he couldn’t have imagined, to do things no one would’ve predicted for him, to help win a war that kept and set people free. He, and his generation, exceeded every expectation of them.

We are Joe’s people, Gabby. Never forget that.

My prayers and hopes for you are that you will find purpose, work, creativity, passion and be honorable in whatever you do, wherever you do it.

The Bible says “three things remain: faith, hope and love”. You can have these anytime you need them.

You will always have God. You can’t lose Him.

And one way or another, you will always have me,


(Note: edited 6/2/23)

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