A Graduation Overture…….#193 (the 80’s)

“There’s a time for joy,  a time for tears,  a time we’ll remember through the years,  we’ll remember always graduation day“,  the lyrics of the Four Freshman promulgating the up-coming graduation event.   Gary’s wife Jan having concluded a two year educational journey, accomplishing an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing from Pratt Community College.


Gary not surprised at his wife’s steadfast resolve in pursuing a nursing career,  as this is who she is, remembering when she answered the communities call,  becoming an EMT on the ambulance service. but also remembering the words of her mother, questioning why she would want to leave her current position at the bank and become a nurse.  Her decision was inn reality a revelation, because on July 17th 1986, the FDIC regulating commission closed the Bank of Kiowa, Jan enrolling in the Pratt Community College nursing program.


Gary was surprised when she inquired if he would play the  piano  for the nursing class graduation ceremony.   At first somewhat hesitant, but realizing this was Jan stellar moment in life, he couldn’t decline,  questioning as to what his participation would encompass,  discovering he was to provide a prelude then the entrance processional, followed by an interlude and upon the conclusion the recessional.


Gary having no difficulty selecting what he would play for the processional and recessional,  but discovering the Preeminent of the Nursing Department, director Jeanie Walsh,  was paramour to a song from the Broadway musical,  a little night music,   Send In The Clowns,  made popular by folksinger Judy Collins.   Gary immediately finding a humorous countenance in the title,  especially to be perform as a prelude before the assembly of soon-to-be nurses.   He had decided the entrance processional would be a composition for his wife,  Jan at one time having mentioned her high school class graduation song was  The Impossible Dream,  it too from a Broadway production,  The Man From La Moncha


Gary vaguely recalling the Send In The Clowns song, and not possessing a recording for his musical ear to posture,   realizing he would be compelled to buy the sheet music.  Once purchased,  another discovery, the score was written  with a 12/8 temporal signature.    The up’ed  waltz time beginning was perceptible, but, the bridge presented a problem,  it wasn’t registering with the non sight reading musician.


Where there’s a will, there’s away.  Gary whom worked at the Kiowa grade school, asking  music teacher,  Cathy Cox  if she would play the song so the bridge would register with him.   Cathy seated at the piano, somewhat apologetic, as it was her first time sight reading the send in the clowns musical score.   Her first attempt was elucidating,  performance exacting,  providing the missing bridge connotation needed for Gary’s educated ear.  The pianist now confident with a few personalized brush strokes,  he could flourish the composer’s artistic musical  painting.


The evening of Pratt Community College graduation ceremony having arrived,  the gymnasium was suffused with friends,  family and all the consolidated graduates of the class of 1988 from  the divergent career majors.   A vocalist and pianist commenced the all class program,  continued with multifarious address’s from college and guest dignitaries,  followed by an acknowledgement of the graduating students  with a replica of diploma’s for their accession.   The student gathering diverging,   Jan’s diminutive sized nursing class leaving the arena,  to a lecture auditorium,  addressed with a stage and raised seating


Gary taking notice of a  grand piano positioned to one side of the stage, a podium,  and a large movie screen centered as a backdrop.  Seated with  Jan’s parents, her sister Gail, and  her  aunt and uncle, Charles and Esther Terry,  the nursing class to be positioned in the forefront before the podium.


Gary removing himself from the group,  ascending the stage,  seating himself at the piano, beginning the prelude.  The processional beginning to  The Impossible Dream as the classes entered.   The program continuing, the introduction speeches and acknowledgements, Gary remaining at the piano.  The lights beginning to dim, a projector coming to life,  highlighting the screen with photos of the past,  accounts of class outings and events,  scenes of the class members close two-year affiliation.   Gary beginning to play the appropriate background music, noting some of the assembly forging tears of melancholy,  the pianist knowing his selection  moving,  their erstwhile comradely during their educational ascendancy, would forever be an anchored memory.


With the ceremony coming to a conclusion, Gary’s beginning the recessional,  Chariots of Fire,.  a befitting tribute to those about to journey as care-giving professionals who’s profession is one of caring for others, and  bear witness to the beginning and the ending of life.  Her formal college perquisite fulfilled,  Jan preparing for state,   the Kansas State Board of Nursing Exams,   a real test of her two years of accumulative nursing knowledge.  Each graduate having to pass the state exams to be licensed as a Registered Nurse.   Gary having no doubt she would accomplish her goal. He reasoned,  his intransigent apportionment was just one of many  providing a foundation for her to attain her destination.


His encouragement, a mitigating essential,  when others questioned her passion for a career in nursing.  On occasion Gary even enrolled in her off campus college course’s so it would meet the student quota for credit.   but it was knowing,  that her perseverance and determination would emancipate a final accomplishment,   “Jan Willson, Registered nurse





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