I was so honored and delighted to be asked to speak today. Watching Laura, in fact all of our kids, grow up has been a richly satisfying experience, even through the inevitable ups and downs of adolescence. Our families spent a lot of time together when the kids were younger, and for many years did a family camping trip to Fiqueroa Mountain every spring. I have an especially fond and vivid memory of all three – Laura, Tim, and my daughter, Kendall, who is a year younger than Tim – splashing through a nearby creek, hunting for pollywogs.
As parents, we have so many hopes for our children. That they will grow up happy and whole, that they will find meaning in their lives and have opportunities to learn and express their creativity, that they will find love. I am so happy that Laura has done all of these things.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to say today, I remembered a William Butler Yeats’ poem, called “Prayer for My Daughter.” I won’t recite the whole thing, because it is long, but I want to share a few stanzas that I thought were particularly apropos to the occasion today.
In the poem, there is a raging storm outside, and Yeats is in his infant daughter’s room, gazing at her in her crib, and listening to the rain beating against the windows. In the poem he mentions a linnet, which is a small bird in the finch family. He writes:
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O, may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
We all hope our children will never be torn from the foundations we build for them, and here I will betray my own feminist leanings and say, yes, we especially want to protect our daughters from the world and its vagaries. We ardently hope they will find someone to love who cherishes them beyond their own selves, and who will be partners who allow our daughters to continue to grow and create and become the women they are meant to be. I believe Laura has found that person in Rick, and I am so happy for both of them.
Congratulations, and may you enjoy many wonderful years together.