Well, the day we dreamed about for many years together has come and nearly gone – Mark’s PhD Graduation!
Today is one of those awfully bittersweet days. Full of much joy at realizing what we have been working towards for so long (one of us working longer and harder towards that goal!) has come to pass, but at the same time having a hard time actually realizing it because we were not physically present for it.
A couple months ago we had to make the hard choice to not attend the actual graduation ceremony in Scotland. We both very much wanted to go, but for a variety of reasons we knew we had to make the grown up decision to stay and go to our jobs instead
About 3 weeks ago the thought was planted in my little mind to have a surprise celebration for Mark at work today. I work at the university on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the library so I knew I would be on campus. It also struck me that Mark would be teaching his class from 8:30am until 11am or so which would give me plenty of time to set out a cake and decorate a little. I got the permission I needed and have enjoyed the thought of surprising Mark ever since.
I worked hard all day yesterday to have a variety of surprises for Mark throughout the day, including the big one at his office. I simply could not bear the thought of letting this day pass as a normal day when it was not! I’ve been like a little kid waiting for Christmas!
One of the ladies that works on Mark’s floor and goes to church with us was my main partner in crime. I dropped off a cake, a present, poster, and paper goods at her house last night on my way to church so she could bring them to work today without Mark getting suspicious of what I was doing. This morning she had a brilliant thought to ask the registrars office for regalia, as well as to make a fake diploma, so we could have a mini graduation ceremony right there and then. They only had tiny, short robes, but did have a graduate hood, as well as a mortar board. We both were hoping they’d have a John Knox poofy hat like Mark would have worn at the actual ceremony, but we didn’t have time to get our hands on one of those. (I think Mark was relieved but you all know you wished you would have seen it too!)
I got permission from my boss, went to decorate at the appointed time and soon after heard Mark’s voice down the hall. Thankfully we had set someone in charge of running interference when we came in so I could have more time. I quit early (thus the lack of any real decorations!) thinking he was coming and just waited and waited. They did a good job stalling him! The fire alarm went off and I thought my cover was going to be blown, but it was a false alarm and quickly went off – thank goodness. (As an aside, do you know how hard it is to find graduation stuff in Nov?)
Finally, Mark got to his office and I was hiding along the wall where the door was so I could snap photos of his reactions. It was so fun to see him register it all. I was just proud I had managed to keep my mouth shut for 3 weeks and not even give any clues along the way! There was a brief “hooding” done by one of the other profs, and the giving/receiving of the “diploma,” which, I might add, even had the University of Aberdeen logo on it! Then Mark got to open his graduation present from me. For several years now he has wanted a nice framed photo I took of King’s College at the University of Aberdeen where his office was located. We both love it!
We so appreciated his great co-workers, and even the President, joining in the festivities. They all thought I needed my own celebration for enduring as a PhD wife and took me/us out for lunch too. Can you tell we are well loved already.
A very special day after all.
Thank you, Lord, for sustaining us through the years of student-hood and allowing us celebrate this milestone.