This picture says it all.
Every time my sister and I walked across a graduation stage, we would come down the steps and be met by our dad's camera and tear-stained face.
It first happened at my grade eight graduation. I remember feeling surprised by his reaction. For a long time, I believed they were tears of pride.
And, of course, they were. But now I know there was sadness in them, too.
Recently, my dad told me about having to leave school before he wanted to; that even though it was the place he most wanted to be, he couldn't stay.
He waited almost 40 years to tell me and still I felt the loss in his words.
I felt a wave of shame.
My sister and I like to tease our dad for the prominent display of framed degrees that hang in his home (instead of ours). But I think we've always understood they mean more to him. And I think that's why I felt ashamed.
I don't know if my parents know how much they gave us.
I don't think I've done enough to tell them.
My love of learning didn't start with phenomenal teachers or the schools I've been fortunate to attend; it started with my parents.
Whether it was my mom's stories about traveling to another country as a young woman to train as a nurse or the newspapers, books (and internet) my dad was always reading. They taught us the value of education.
Together they supervised hours of homework, attended hundreds of parent-teacher interviews, sat through concerts and spelling bees, cried in graduation audiences, and carried milk crates filled with prized possessions up and down dorm room stairs.
They cheered, they believed, they wanted great things.
I don't say it enough: thank you, Mom and Dad, for wanting the world for us.
I know you watch (and cheer and believe and want great things) as I do the same for my children.
Don't ever forget, it started with you.
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