Our family came in town yesterday afternoon and our home went from quiet to filled with love and laughter within minutes!! We had dinner together and strawberry shortcake and then all the tired peeps (everyone over the age of 35!) went back to their hotel for some shut-eye and we settled in for a restless and nervous sleep!
We were up and out of the house by 7:30 morning! We got all gussied up and headed down to campus with Ben's mom. Ben had to line up at 8:15 so we had him put on his gown, posed for a quick picture and left him with hugs and a prayer!
They were handing out the programs (a half an inch thick book!) in bags with fans and ponchos, as the forecast was pretty dim. We found some seats under a tree where we were mostly protected and settled down to wait. At 9:15, just as a light rain began to fall, the bagpipes sounded and everyone stood to watch the procession file in!
It was a very formal convocation, with flags, singers, the bag pipes and about 20,000 people, faculty and graduates! Wow. It was a long 2 hours but the kiddos (who begged to come to the whole thing!) were SO good and well-behaved. Eliana ate a snack, hung out in her stroller taking her shoes off and playing with Baby Anna and the boys looked at the program, put on their ponchos and watched everything with interest. They were a bit bored when there was an hour left (as were B's mom and I) but it was exciting when the president of the university started conferring degrees on the different schools. That was my first round of tears/lump in my throat!
We waited on the corner of a street for the rest of our family to arrive and to meet Ben, looking quite regal in his doctoral regalia! Our family had a bit of trouble with the one-way and blocked off streets but finally made it in time for the luncheon. I had all of the invalids get out of the car (which was everyone!) and I took the van and parked it in a reserved parking spot. Thanks to my grandpa's handicapped parking permit, we were able to get help reserving a spot, which helped SO much. I parked and walked back to find everyone having a great time under the tent, eating lunch!
My beautiful Grandma and Mom!
The happy candidate and daughter!
The very proud Mama and her son!!
After a bit, Ben had to leave with all of the other graduates (in his area of study) for the second ceremony. All of the schools had individual ceremonies throughout the afternoon to give diplomas. We took lots of pictures while waiting for the doors to open. Here's Mugga with a few of her grandbabies:)
We made it through the crush of people and sat down to await THE big moment! The bag pipers came down the aisle with the Division of Humanities banner and all the graduates receiving Masters and Doctorates followed.
The faculty helping to hood the doctoral students sat on stage. Each professor wears the robes of his/her school that they graduated from.
They went through the Master's graduates very quickly (thankfully!) and then the doctoral students lined up. Ben is the tall one:) I kept trying to point out to Eliana where Daddy was and she didn't see him at first until he started waving. Her face lit up and she yelled, "There's Daddy!!!" and started waving frantically! She kept saying really loudly, "Do you see Daddy?!" which cause several people near us to turn around and smile:)
I started blinking back tears as I watch Ben get closer and closer and lost it when it was his turn. My sister took pictures for me while I tried to take a video but my hands started shaking so bad that the video is awful! It must've just been all of the emotion of eight years coming out:)
Here he is being hooded by his academic advisor. They said, "Benjamin David Thomas. Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Dissertation titled, 'Hezekiah and the Compositional History of the Book of Kings', committee comprised of x,y,z, being hooded by Dennis Pardee."
The blue velvet of his hood stands for Doctorate of Philosophy. Different fields get different colors. We rented his gown and hat since to buy it is costs....are you ready? $800!! We didn't know he got to keep the hood until he went to return the gown. We were really glad he got to keep that!
He looks so regal!! We did a lot of clapping and cheering and then I burst into tears:) Samuel kept looking at me and then much later he said to me, "I just don't get how people cry happy tears! I thought you only cried when you were sad!"
We made our way through the throngs and found our newly minted Doctor waiting with lots of hugs. Enter more tears on my part and lots of smiles!! We posed for lots of pics. I'm not sure that any of us were looking in the same direction since 3 people were taking pictures at the same time!
Ah, what an amazing day!!! So honored and blessed that so many people supported us with prayers and love along this whole way, including the amazing family that came to celebrate with us this weekend!
It's official! No more hoops to jump through! Ever again!
Thank you, God, is all I have to say for this day! As Ben's mom texted me this morning, "This is the day which the Lord hath made. Rejoice and be glad in it!"