I have never used that expression. “Alma mater.” The words sound strange tripping off my tongue. It means “nourishing mother” in Latin. Was I intellectually “nourished” at my former college?
Yes and no.
I’d like to think that my academic experience enabled me to acquire knowledge and develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and satisfied sustenance.
The world will forever be my classroom.
But, I must admit that during those years, I occasionally felt starved for intellectual stimulation. Some of my undergraduate courses were less than provocative.
Linguistics taught by a professor who spent more time exhaling than speaking into the lecture microphone.
Statistics taught by a mathematician who gave us a final that had absolutely no connection to the course material. To this day I wonder, did he give us an exam meant for his graduate students?
Human Anatomy filled with oodles of index cards for memorizing bones, muscles and the many systems of the body.
Some 30 years ago, I walked the halls and breezeways of this university by the sea. On this beautiful, autumn afternoon, my son and I were walking side by side, as I had once done with schoolmates.
I wanted to cry, knowing that once upon a time, my wildest dreams couldn’t have conjured up this incredibly complex and caring son.
Odd feelings swelled up within me: joy, melancholy, incredulity, How was it that we were climbing the same steps that I’d once negotiated in such a very different time of my life?
I’d come full circle.
Typing these words, my heart swells with love and hope and excited anticipation for my firstborn son. Especially, hope that he will be intellectually nourished by this university experience.
As John and I walked back to the truck on that awesome October afternoon, I felt gratitude more than anything else. There are so few times in life that we are afforded the opportunity to come full circle.
I was blessed to share the experience of both seeing my past and my son’s future at once.
The bonds that encircle us are bound even stronger.
And I look forward to coming around with him again and again.