Will and Circumstance

posted at 9:41 am on May 11, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Friday, our family watched as our son David entered Northrop Hall at the University of Minnesota to the familiar strains of “Pomp and Circumstance”. He and 899 of his fellow students from the IT school filled the lower level of the hall, which meant that the orchestra had to play the same 32 bars or so in shifts; first the organist, and then when he got tired, the brass section, and back and forth. It took almost two hours just to call out each individual for their moment of glory and brief stroll across the stage, representing the pinnacle of their years in school, and each receiving the cheers of their family as they crossed the threshold.

I looked at my son and wondered how he did it, and marveled at the will it took to graduate summa cum laude from one of the most well-respected universities in the nation.

The First Mate and I got married when David was almost ten years old, and at the beginning, David and I struggled. In describing stepfatherhood to others, I tell people that it was sort of like being the second Darren on Bewitched. You know you have the role, but all the ground rules got established before you hit the set, and you have about 30 seconds to learn them before you have to take the stage. We had our share of difficulties, but eventually both of us figured out how to live with and love each other. When I adopted David in 2001 at 17, it was nothing more than a recognition of reality — he could not have been more my son.

In some ways, that describes David’s relationship with education. He has always been a curious person, sometimes frighteningly so, as when he wanted to see what would happen if he plunged two wires into a bucket of water while the other end was plugged into an electrical outlet in his room. (I interrupted that experiment, thankfully.) He did well in science courses, but hated the rest of it with a passion only matched by his antipathy towards alarm clocks. It seemed like such a problem that I wondered whether he might be happier going to a vocational/technical school after high school.

That changed in his junior year, about the time he started dating Missy. He got more serious about school, and while he still didn’t enjoy his classes, he started making better grades across the board. His senior year was his best academically, and that was all the more ironic. Missy had an absolutely horrible pregnancy, and both she and David struggled just to get to school. She had to be on an IV daily for almost the entire pregnancy, and David got himself up early every day to take care of her, setting up the IV and waiting until she was ready to go before leaving for school himself.

That created an untenable position for the school’s administrators, apparently. We hadn’t heard a peep from them while he had ditched class and scored relatively poorly his first three years, but as soon as Missy got pregnant, they started siccing truancy officers on David — while he was getting the best grades of his life. Their teachers did their best to run interference for them, but the fools (the lightest word I can use to this day) in the administration harassed them to the point that they actually told us we could no longer call in for David when he was going to be late. It only stopped after a very heated phone call with the district superintendent, in which I explained at about 80 decibels that my next phone call would be to the local television stations to inform them that they were pressuring my future daughter-in-law to abort my future grandchild, which is exactly what this was all about.

I really wish I’d had a blog back then.

When it came time to go to college, both of them decided to take their time and get through the prerequisites at a local community college. It gave them breathing room while they nurtured The Little Admiral through the toddler stage. They followed their plans carefully, both of them moving to the universities at the same time. It took them six years to get their baccalaureates, but they never wavered for a moment in achieving their educational goals. And on Friday, I sat in amazement as the son that we had to push out the door to go to school at one point celebrated his amazing scholarship in one of the most demanding disciplines possible, as my wife held our sleeping granddaughter — much as we did for their high-school graduation when the Little Admiral was only three days old.

Through it all, both Missy and David willed themselves to success. People congratulate us on how well they did, but I’m not sure we had all that much to do with it. I think these two remarkable young people decided that they would succeed, and their parents had the great fortune to have front-row seats and play supporting roles in this amazing story. I’ve been telling them how proud we are repeatedly for the last week — hell, for the last six years — and I’m sure they’re sick of hearing it.

I’ll never be sick of saying it. Congratulations, my son.

When you do really well in school, they name plazas after you, apparently. At least, that’s our story and we’re sticking with it.

Here’s a slideshow of our celebrations for both Missy and David, complete with a small video clip of David’s walk across the stage. The music is “Blue Sky” by the Allman Brothers.


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Ed, THAT is heartwarming. Thank you for posting it!

mimi1220 on May 11, 2008 at 9:46 AM

I looked at my son and wondered how he did it, and marveled at the will it took to graduate summa cum laude from one of the most well-respected universities in the nation.

Grit. A lesson he learned at home.

Congratulations!

Limerick on May 11, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Great story, congratulations to all the family!

Midas on May 11, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Congratulations Captain Ed!

There’s nothing in the world like the pride a parent feels in his or her offspring. Makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

– Carl in Jerusalem (Father of 8)

Carl in Jerusalem on May 11, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Congratulations!!! Best wishes to the young family!!!

ocbrat on May 11, 2008 at 9:54 AM

“I looked at my son and wondered how he did it …”

Conservative upbringing, thank you Ed, you’ve given America yet another productive citizen.

Tony737 on May 11, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Awesome story. Congratulations to all.

darkegop on May 11, 2008 at 10:04 AM

That was awesome! Congratulations to you all! This was a triumph for everybody from Captain Ed all the way down to the Little Admiral.

Sekhmet on May 11, 2008 at 10:10 AM

Congrats to David Morrissey “Lilly” on his achievement, and his plaza.

RBMN on May 11, 2008 at 10:10 AM

As the father of another of yesterday’s college grads, I know the pride you are feeling. Congratulations!

exhelodrvr on May 11, 2008 at 10:15 AM

Ed, congraduations! Don’t forget to send a copy of the video to the school district you referenced. They need to see it.

thatcher on May 11, 2008 at 10:17 AM

That’s a great story. Congratulations to your son. Sounds like a moment that was truly earned for all involved. The best ones always are.

Tom_Shipley on May 11, 2008 at 10:19 AM

It was a joy to read this. In this great country, with great parents and friends to support you, you can indeed will what you dream, and do what you will.

A salute to David and Missy Morrissey. Well done.

smagar on May 11, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Thank you for sharing.

Life is So Grand!!©

Shivas Irons on May 11, 2008 at 10:32 AM

Congratulations to the whole family for a job well done!

FloridaBill on May 11, 2008 at 10:32 AM

Congratulations to all. The best educations are the ones earned, not given.

rbj on May 11, 2008 at 10:35 AM

Every commenter ahead has expressed well my own congratulations to the whole Morrissey family. It is obvious that it did not take a village to reach this achievement. Individuals and their supportive families make all the difference between success and learned dependence. Well done.

onlineanalyst on May 11, 2008 at 10:51 AM

That is great.

aengus on May 11, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Congratulatins, Ed!

JamesLee on May 11, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Congrats David, Ed and Family!

The contrast between this and the honor killing story in the headlines could not be more stark. David wasn’t perfect (who is?), but wisdom and character come not from a lack of adversity in life, but how you deal with that adversity.

trubble on May 11, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Yet another reason I’m glad you came over to HA from Captain’s Quarters: I got to follow closely this wildly satisfying turn of events and fortunes closely without having to leave HA. Congratulations to you, Ed, and your entire family.

sondiehl on May 11, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Congratulations, Captain! My best wishes to David and your entire family.

amerpundit on May 11, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Congratulations to David, you and the rest of your family, Ed. Wonderful story of will, determination and love.

Michael in MI on May 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM

A wonderful post Ed. Thank you. Congratulation to all. You have a lovely family.
L

letget on May 11, 2008 at 11:20 AM

There’s nothing on this earth like family, and your’s sounds wonderful!

Congrads to all.

AprilOrit on May 11, 2008 at 11:33 AM

Congratulations to the whole family! Inspiring indeed.

And please tell the First Mate and Missy happy Mother’s Day from us!

Speaking of Mother’s Day, here’s a neat Mother’s Day thing:

http://cuterbythehour.com

They’re posting really cute mom-and-baby animal pictures all day today.

aero on May 11, 2008 at 11:35 AM

It is a strong family that gets through situations such as you describe. You have a wonderful story to tell (and the ability to tell it very well). May God continue to bless all your family!

whtabtbill on May 11, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Great story Captain, thanks for sharing.

Congratulations to your son David for his outstanding achievement!

And Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful women out there!!!

omnipotent on May 11, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Goose bumps over here! A beautiful tribute to the power of family, love, expectations, and sacrifice. What a lucky little girl that is to have a dad and mom who know what it takes to achieve something.

Rational Thought on May 11, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Congratulations… I know how proud you and the First Mate are. I have always been impressed every time I have met David.

Mike C.

peregrin on May 11, 2008 at 12:04 PM

they were pressuring my future daughter-in-law to abort my future grandchild, which is exactly what this was all about.

Full marks for standing your ground, Ed. May the Lord bless your work for His cause, and may He bless you and your family with many happy years together.

apacalyps on May 11, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Congrats!!! What a great story.

Best of Luck to David & family. They have a bright future ahead of them.

relpayme on May 11, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Congrats to the graduate and his supportive family.

Hog Wild on May 11, 2008 at 12:24 PM

It only stopped after a very heated phone call with the district superintendent, in which I explained at about 80 decibels that my next phone call would be to the local television stations to inform them that they were pressuring my future daughter-in-law to abort my future grandchild, which is exactly what this was all about.

Ed,

You have the right to express your pride in your son and daughter-in-law. Their love and commitment to each other, their daughter and their education (in that order) should serve as a model for all youngsters.

Dunno about using only 80 decibels tho’ Going after that Public Servant at only 80dB seems weak. Perhaps your voice was strained or a sore throat was coming on. Now if you were within 0.5 inches of said Public Servant’s nose, 80dB would have been perfect.

SeniorD on May 11, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Congratulations once again. I hope that your son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter continue to be sources of pride. Summa cum laude! Wow!

chsw

chsw on May 11, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Good stuff, Ed. And Happy Mother’s Day.

mikeyboss on May 11, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Thank you for raising a child who is not a drain on society!!

Good work By All.

EJDolbow on May 11, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Happy Mother’s Day to First Mate and to Missy!

(the Little Admiral is very lucky indeed!)

Branch Rickey on May 11, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I’m so happy for you, Ed! You couldn’t have asked for a better son, for sure!

¡Felicidades! Congrats to you all!

newton on May 11, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Congratulations! You have two incredibly strong and wonderful young people there. Don’t forget that your strong support and love helped them enormously. The Little Admiral is indeed blessed with her family. Happy Mother’s Day all around (and Happy Father’s Day in advance)!

inmypajamas on May 11, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Heck, you’re not a Captain.

You’re a King with riches beyond belief.

Congrats.

Steve

SteveMG on May 11, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Wow, Ed, congratulations! Your story made me cry. Truly inspirational.

4shoes on May 11, 2008 at 1:02 PM

My congratulations to the graduates! You have a beautiful family Cap’n Ed! Happy mother’s day to the first mate and and Missy!

Vntnrse on May 11, 2008 at 1:02 PM

Congratulations to your children and yourselves!

Your family will be blessed in the years to come for choosing life and hard work.

What a lovely mother’s day story and gift!

Mommynator on May 11, 2008 at 1:41 PM

Nice story ed.

But…

they were pressuring my future daughter-in-law to abort my future grandchild, which is exactly what this was all about.

Give me a break. The administrators were hard core abortionists trying to force an abortion on them? I know you’re pro-life and respect that but for some reason that line doesn’t ring true at all…way too paranoid.

Ares on May 11, 2008 at 1:48 PM

Another link to send off to my pregnant student. Here’s to hoping she has as much success in life as your son and daughter-in-law, Ed!

Bob's Kid on May 11, 2008 at 2:10 PM

The administrators were hard core abortionists trying to force an abortion on them? I know you’re pro-life and respect that but for some reason that line doesn’t ring true at all…way too paranoid.

You evidently do not work in a public high school, or you’d know this is, sadly, much the prevailing attitude. Make your life easier! It’s not a big deal, an easily fixable mistake, you don’t need to even tell your parents or the father of the baby. We can take you over and take care of it. How’s next Tuesday?

Knowing how many pregnant students I have had over the years, I shudder to think of how many others succumb to the blandishments.

Bob's Kid on May 11, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Congratulations David! Life so far as been bumpy but you have certainly traversed it well. It sounds like you have a wonderful woman and I hope you continue to enjoy success and happiness in the future. Being a child that also was a step son and then adopted I know your ties to your new father while they may be strained at times are strong and they will only get stronger. You are a class act and once again congratulations.
Sorry don’t mean to short change Ed but while you may have been the motivating force it sounds like David knew what responsibility is all about and he stepped up to the plate and is a shining example of what to do when life gives you lemons. Congrats to Missy also.
Exit question: Are they going to Disney World now?

Just A Grunt on May 11, 2008 at 2:26 PM

Congratulations to the family.

xplodeit on May 11, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Congratulations Captian Ed!

A true story of your family’s trials and tribulations
on the rough sea’s of life,and Ed you wheathered the storm
to dock in a safe harbour.

My wife was pregnet in her last year in high school,we
toughed it out,after dating for 10 years I married her,
and we have been together since!

Ed,I salute you sir,a great family story and it’s Mother’s
Day to boot.

canopfor on May 11, 2008 at 3:01 PM

Nice job to Cap’n Ed and the First Mate. Kids drive you nuts and then all of a sudden they turn into the most amazing people. Sounds like you did the parents’ job just about as well as it can be done! Best of luck to David and Missy in all their future endeavours.

Bill_M on May 11, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Congratulations to your entire family. You all are examples of the best this country has. May God continue to bless you all.

Happy Mother’s Day to the First Mate and Missy!

Red Pill on May 11, 2008 at 4:09 PM

Blessings to Missy and David, congrats as well. Blessings most to The First Mate….. oh heck, you too, ED.

Pride, joy and peace is deserved to you all.

MNDavenotPC on May 11, 2008 at 4:58 PM

He and 899 of his fellow students from the IT school filled the lower level of the hall

Ed get one of those kids to recover your lost datas! >:D

Chakra Hammer on May 11, 2008 at 5:39 PM

It doesn’t take a village. It takes determination and courage and, dare I say, love.

SouthernGent on May 11, 2008 at 5:52 PM

The little redhead has good examples to follow, and a great support system. Congratulations to all,

Entelechy on May 11, 2008 at 6:01 PM

I’ve been telling them how proud we are repeatedly for the last week — hell, for the last six years — and I’m sure they’re sick of hearing it.

Deep down, we never tire of hearing it. ;)

Congratulations to your son, and to you. You’ve both obviously done a fine job, and you’re both great men. You make America proud!

MadisonConservative on May 11, 2008 at 7:17 PM

Congratulations. What a beautiful family.

Rogue Traveler on May 11, 2008 at 7:39 PM

and marveled at the will it took to graduate summa cum laude from one of the most well-respected universities in the nation.

so don’t you have to buy into their brand of thinking to get that? or pretend to at least? we’re dying to know… who’s he voting for this november?

Congratulations David… you’ve paved your road ahead, now enjoy the drive.

Kaptain Amerika on May 11, 2008 at 7:40 PM

So wonderful! Congratulations! Good to see yall look so happy!!!!

Rightwingsparkle on May 11, 2008 at 8:22 PM

Captain Ed,
.
Hearty Congratulations to you and the First Mate, your son and daughter-in-law on their magnificent achievements. I imagine we’re going to be hearing more of your son and daughter-in-law as I suspect their getting their degrees are only the beginning of their achievements.

DavePa on May 11, 2008 at 8:26 PM

Congratulations, Cap’n. Ya’ done good!

gridlock2 on May 11, 2008 at 9:17 PM

What a Mother’s Day present for the First Mate!

Good parenting plays a big role in David’s success and David has fantastic parents.

LL

Lady Logician on May 11, 2008 at 9:28 PM

Ed … you should be proud, thanks for sharing. The best to you and yours.

ORrighty on May 11, 2008 at 10:19 PM

Ed, May God the Father Bless you and your family. Congratulations to David and Missy. I am confident we will be hearing of great job offers soon.

Zorro on May 11, 2008 at 10:19 PM

Ed, thanks so much for sharing that. Congratulations to David, Missy, and all your family. I’m still grinning. (WHERE did that gorgeous little girl get her beautiful red hair??)

Rosmerta on May 11, 2008 at 11:17 PM

A beautiful story, beautifully told.

reine.de.tout on May 11, 2008 at 11:23 PM

awesome, awesome, AWESOME!

D2Boston on May 11, 2008 at 11:36 PM

Congratulations, Cap’n! I’ve been following the encouraging tale of the Little Admiral’s parents from the days of your old blog. So awesome that they’ve reached this milestone!

pookysgirl on May 12, 2008 at 12:20 AM

You aren’t proud are you! This is wonderful. The love just flows from your words. God bless you all.

Glynn on May 12, 2008 at 1:55 AM

Congratulations, sir! All the best to all of you.

joewm315 on May 12, 2008 at 7:00 AM

What a beautiful thing! Thanks Ed,and congratulations to you and your family!
liz

lizzee on May 12, 2008 at 7:48 AM

Ah. The sweet fruit of a life well lived!

Congratulations, EM, to you & yours.

locomotivebreath1901 on May 12, 2008 at 8:33 AM

Ed, CONGRATULATIONS!
This must have been a great Mother’s Day celebration.
To your family’s happiness, and your son’s successes,
good news goes far–BRAVO TO DAVID!

maverick muse on May 12, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Glad you son was one of a tens of thousands that graduated or that will graduate this year.
You are fortunate to have a public forum for you pride, let it be a platform for all the other parents who feel pride in their sons and daughters.
The honor is shared by many…

right2bright on May 12, 2008 at 9:07 AM

Ed,

Beautiful family and beautiful story. Congrats to one and all.

When you do really well in school, they name plazas after you, apparently. At least, that’s our story and we’re sticking with it.

At least he’s not getting “stuck” in Iraq. Right, John Kerry?

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 12, 2008 at 9:27 AM

Congratulations to David and Missy. And yes, to you and the First Mate too, Ed. Since parents always get blamed when kids mess up, I think they should get some accolades when they succeed.

srhoades on May 12, 2008 at 9:41 AM

A great tribute honoring a fantastic accomplishment by your son, Ed. Great stuff!

Al-Ozarka on May 12, 2008 at 10:18 AM

Fabulouso! Congratulations! The gubmint (and NEA) didn’t have to intervene (though the bastards tried)!

kirkill on May 12, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Inspiring story. I’m very happy for you and your family. I’m sure there are many more accomplishments in the years ahead.

dedalus on May 12, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Great tribute. Kudos to your son, and congratulations.

emailnuevo on May 12, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Beautiful kids and family. An awe-inspiring triumph for our times. Congratulations to all!

Feedie on May 12, 2008 at 2:00 PM

Congratulations to the entire family. Well done!

macummings on May 12, 2008 at 4:29 PM

David and Missy are wonderful examples for their daughter. They’ve taught her that you fight to reach your goals no matter what the circumstances.

Congrats to them both.

kimpriestap on May 12, 2008 at 5:45 PM

For a second there I thought I was on MySpace. What’s next, wedding and baby photos?

DanKenton on May 12, 2008 at 10:16 PM

I got the goosebumps Capt.

Congratulations to David, Missy and both families.

Texyank on May 12, 2008 at 10:39 PM

Wow, what an uplifting story to cap off my Monday. Thanks for sharing, Ed. I remember part I when you bragged about your daughter in law getting her degree. I am glad to read about the next chapter today. Keep us posted. I hope they both go on to great jobs, make lots of money, and have as many kids as they want and lead a happy life. That is what this is all about. We fight the fight to make life better for the next generation.

karenhasfreedom on May 13, 2008 at 1:00 AM

Congratulations to the Mom, the Dad, and the son whose worth proves theirs. Congratulations above all to David and his wife for cooperating and sticking it out.
 

You’re all remarkable people. And, really, were the world a better place your accomplishments should be commonplace. Alas, they are the exception, excellence in a crass world. “Classy” is a word I’d like to apply here.

{^_^}

herself on May 13, 2008 at 3:55 AM