Sharon Randall: Graduation a time to celebrate

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

There’s a growing sense of excitement and great cause to celebrate this time of year.

Why? One word: Graduation.

The end of May through early June will be filled with pomp and circumstance and tears of pride and joy as countless numbers of our collective children — from preschool through college — will don caps and gowns and march through a cheering crowd to accept a diploma and move on to the next stage of their lives.

After two years of a pandemic, when so many ceremonies were either canceled or held remotely, this year will be all the more reason to celebrate.

My oldest grandchild, Randy,  is finishing fifth grade and will go to middle school next fall. I cried when he started preschool nine years ago. It seems like yesterday. In another nine years, he’ll be off to college.

Life passes quickly. We need to celebrate every chance we get. So to celebrate this season of graduations, here’s a list I’ve shared several times over the years when I’ve been honored to speak at commencement ceremonies. I call it:

“Things My Grandmother Said, or Would Have Said, if She Had Thought of Them.”

1. When you meet people, smile, shake hands and look them in the eye, and they’ll probably say nice things about you at your funeral. Especially if you ask, “How’s your mother?”

2. If you’re going to tell a lie, tell one that people will believe. That way you’ll only be known as a liar and not a lying fool.

3. Look after living things. Tend your animals, water your garden, be kind to children and old folks and everybody else.

4. Never pretend to be what you aren’t or to know what you don’t know. People won’t expect you to know everything, but they can’t abide a phony.

5. Be true to your beliefs and let others be true to theirs. If you don’t see eye to eye, agree to disagree and find ways to work together for the good of all.

6. Don’t dip snuff around people who make you laugh. It’s not a sin, but you’ll regret it.

7. Never be rude. If you slip, apologize at once. Say it like you mean it: “I apologize for my rudeness.” The only thing worse than rude is tacky and you never, ever want to be tacky.

8. Avoid confrontation in the heat of anger, especially with members of your immediate family; remember that in some states, “he needed killing” is not a justifiable defense.

9. If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long before you put it in your mouth; and if you have to swallow two frogs, go for the big one first.

10. Never say anything behind people’s backs that you wouldn’t dare say to their faces. They’re sure to hear about it, unless they’re dead. And you should never speak ill of the dead, unless they’ve got it coming.

11. Don’t start doing anything that you aren’t willing to keep doing forever. And don’t bother to finish what you shouldn’t have started in the first place.

12. Never try to teach a snake not to bite; it’s a waste of time, and you’ll end up getting bit.

13. Seek first to understand and last to be understood. Ask questions. Listen to answers.

14. Show up, be on time, be prepared, follow through. Let your wealth be the gold others see shining in your word and your heart and your deeds.

15. Finally, lead an interesting life, whatever that may be to you. To settle for anything less would be way worse than tacky.

If you are graduating this year, congratulations! Your family and I are proud of you. I hope you get lots of gifts.

It may seem, at times, that the world is in such a mess that you and your generation can’t possibly make it better. Don’t believe that. This is your turn to shine, and shine you will. When you hear people say, “What’s this world coming to?” tell them it is coming to you.

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or at