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Graduation story. (Long)
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Graduation story. (Long)

emoji_events [28]
May 16, 2022, 10:04 AM
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In honor of last week's graduation ceremonies, I will tell this story for the first time:

1993-1996

My ex-wife "T" and I were raised in a part of the Carolinas where the Master Plan was as follows: You marry your High School Sweetheart, you put a trailer in mama and daddy's back yard, you worked for daddy, then when mama and daddy die you moved into the big house. Sad, but not unusual. So when T received a scholarship to a college 350 miles away, her parents were dead set against such "craziness". They figured they had made a decent life for themselves as laborers and it should be good enough for their children to follow the same path.

I encouraged T to break away from the parents and take the education. That was my first strike on the wrong side of my future in-laws. T relented, and upon graduating from high school she accepted a job as a bank teller. I worked for her daddy for two years before quitting to start my own business (not related to, or competing against him). That was my second strike.

Eventually, my business led me to greater things. Being located in a rural area devoted to raising hogs, chickens, turkeys, and row crops was holding me back. I reached out to Clemson to explore the avenues available to maximize the operation. A decision was made to relocate near Clemson and undergo a major expansion. Strike three!

T was very excited about the move. T had been frustrated for years with the banking industry as she had reached her ceiling based on her education level (online and community college access was not like today). At least she was excited until she told her parents. They convinced her my "foolishness" was nothing more than a tactic to come between her and them. Sadly, I relocated to the upstate in 1992...alone. Since my financial situation had improved, I agreed to put T through college as a non-lawyer settlement. She enrolled at a small school near her parents home.

A year passed. It passed quickly. I was busy trying to set up the new operation, travelling, and completing my move to the Upstate. T and I remained the best of friends. She visited me often. After completing her first year of studies, T surprised me with the announcement that she wanted to move to the Upstate and attend Clemson. Apparently, the small school had given her just enough of a glimpse of what she could become, that she was now willing to go against the wishes of her parents.

Since I had been working with Clemson for some time, we were able to get T quickly accepted as a "Non-traditional Student". After the initial phase of homesickness, I watched her begin to blossom as a student and an individual. We were living apart, but speaking of a reconciliation. Meanwhile, my business was taking a bad turn. As often is the case when you start earning "real" money, directors, shareholders, and employees start scrambling for a bigger piece of the pie. By early 1994, the business had imploded due to a series of lawsuits from within the company. Things went downhill for me. Fast!

Through the turmoil, we were able to keep T in school. She graduated. Despite the financial deficiencies, we found a way to get her into the Masters program. As a means of keeping peace in T's family, they were told that we were not together. It was a secret that was easy to keep because they were never going to visit her anyway since the trip meant you had to take I-85 or I-95 and they just didn't travel on the interstate!

In December of 1996, T was set to receive her degree. We had moved in together by that point. Finances demanded it. But neither of us minded. "Our" common goal was to get her working and I would then try to restart some form of my business. Out of nowhere, the parents announced they were coming to graduation! T was in a panic! She was not ready to stand up to them and tell them she would not be returning "home" after graduation. She wanted to wait until she found a job before that showdown. I had very few things in the small apartment anyway (it was all in storage) so we agreed I could go stay with my aunt nearby. Also, I agreed to not attend the graduation so that the undeserving parents could relish in the glory of their daughter's achievements without the fear of bumping into me.

Graduation Day arrived. Exactly one hour before the scheduled start I yelled a big "Hell NO!", put on my suit, and drove the five miles to campus to arrive just at starting time for the ceremony. I went to the last row of the upper tier and sat to the left of the stage. As hard as I tried, I could not locate T in the sea of caps and gowns. About 90 minutes later when they called her name, I saw her walk across that stage. Tears welled up inside of me as all of the pain and happiness of the last three years started to boil over at once. And then it happened! As she exited the stage, T looked dead at me. She gave me "our" wave. She blew me a kiss. And there sitting amid a group of strangers was this lonely man crying his eyes out. I got some odd looks, but I did not care.

After the parents left, I returned to the tiny apartment. I asked T how she spotted me? She said she had a feeling I was close by and found me within 30 seconds of looking.

I wish I could build on that happy ending. But a week later, T went back to her parents home to tell them she would be staying in Clemson. The University had offered her a job. It was a "dream", she would tell me. But when it was time for T to come back, she called me to announce that she would be moving back to live near her parents. In fact, she was "angry" with me for putting her in a position where she had to choose between them or me. I never asked her to make any such choice. I asked her to choose what SHE wanted/needed. But that was the power her parents maintained over her.

Things went well for T once she moved back home. She got another "dream job" at a elementary school just a mile away from her parent's house. Later, she married a successful (local) man. I haven't spoken to her in 26 years. You can do that when there are no children involved. We don't "not speak" out of anger. I think we do it out of respect for new lives. But whenever I hear anything about her, that Clemson Degree is always mentioned. She is so proud to have it. And, I am proud she has it.

After T left, things did not go so well for me. There was a period of turmoil. I'm glad she wasn't a part of it. But adjustments were made and life goes on. I have found a woman that would cut off her right arm for me and follow me to the end of the earth. I would do the same for her. Things are as they should be...for T and me. But I can never hear the words "graduation" and "Clemson" in the same sentence without thinking of that December in 1996.

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Re: Graduation story. (Long)

[2]
May 16, 2022, 11:05 AM
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Wow! This brought tears to my eyes! I am glad that things worked out for you. T was lucky to have you in her life.I'm not sure she deserved you!I am glad you have someone in your life now. You sound happy. You sound like a wonderful man. Do you still live in the upstate?

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Re: Graduation story. (Long)

[2]
May 16, 2022, 12:38 PM
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Yes, I'm still in the Upstate. I've been here since 1992.

Thank you for your comments. I wasn't pointing fingers. Just sharing a story. I look at each graduation now and wonder what stories could be told by the people in attendance.

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Incredible post - thanks for sharing. I get reminded

[3]
May 16, 2022, 12:41 PM
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over & over & over again - you just never know what a person is going through at any given moment.


Congrats on finding happiness & peace to the point that you can share this story.



G O T I G E R S ! !

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Brad Brownell: all-time losingest coach in Clemson men's basketball history, and only coach to beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


I did not read, but I did TU!***

[1]
May 16, 2022, 12:50 PM
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kinda sad

[2]
May 16, 2022, 2:10 PM
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but it all worked out for you.

My story is much sadder. Decades after marring a girl, she has refused to leave.

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"Is there a way to block posters? This guy is weird and his posts are sort of stupid."


Re: kinda sad


May 16, 2022, 2:14 PM
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Must be those big cantaloupe you grow that keeps her around.

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Re: Graduation story. (Long)


May 16, 2022, 3:33 PM
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I feel for you and what you put yourself through. I do.

However, all I could think the whole time reading it was that’s some immature BS. I have a whole lot of negative things I want to type but I won’t, since it’s none of my business.

Glad you grew up and found happiness.

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immature BS


May 16, 2022, 3:57 PM
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Like everyone, I was born immature.
Experience (LIFE) teaches.
One day you wake up "too" mature.

I don't see the harm in talking to Tnet friends as to W TF.

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"Is there a way to block posters? This guy is weird and his posts are sort of stupid."


Re: Graduation story. (Long)


May 16, 2022, 7:14 PM
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Thanks for sharing.

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Great story, man. I applaud your perseverance, and I'll add

[1]
May 17, 2022, 9:44 AM
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this - you ended up in a better situation in the long run. The fact that your ex would essentially "walk way" from you after all you sacrificed for her education and career... that says a lot about her, in my opinion... and it ain't good.

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"They talk most who have the least to say." - Matthew Prior 1664-1721


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