Saturday began bright and early with picking up Dr. Terrence Roberts who is one of the Little Rock Nine. I’d met Dr. Roberts the night before when I escorted him to the Chancellor’s graduation dinner. He is a wonderful, warm, very kind man. Given his experience as one of the Little Rock Nine, it’s amazing how compassionate, forgiving, and forward-looking he is. One of the values he lives by is to go out, do good and heal the world. He certainly personifies that.

I picked him up at Carnall Hall where there was a waiting car. Dr. Alan Sugg and Mike Akin joined us on the ride to Bud Walton AreRoberts Fosterna, where we were escorted into the staging room for the Deans, Board of Trustees, Provost. We had breakfast and then we lined up and processed into the arena. During the all-campus University commencement held on Saturday morning, the graduate degrees (Masters and Ph.D.) are awarded except for those given by the School of Law. Each Dean also offers to the Provost the candidates for the remaining college specific degrees. These are awarded later at the various ceremonies. Our ceremony was on May 17, a week after the other commencement ceremonies.

After graduation, I escorted Dr. Roberts back to Carnall Hall. However, I had promised Professor Sharon Foster that as a reward for carrying our banner in the All-University Commencement, I would take her to lunch at Mama Dean’s. I asked Dr. Roberts if he would like to join us at Mama Dean’s, letting him know that it wasn’t very fancy but that good food and warm fellowship were guaranteed, and he was delighted to join us. So the three of us went down to Mama Dean’s. As you might imagine, he was quite a celebrity there. It was wonderful. It’s hard for me to really share with you all that it meant for me to have the honor of escorting him, and what itMama Deans meant to Mama Dean’s family to be able to meet him and engage him. As I think I mentioned he’s a very, nonassuming, regular person. He took time to talk to everybody who came over to greet him and tell him what a hero he was. It was a very powerful experience. We had a fantastic meal!

Sharon and I had the pork chops with macaroni and cheese and greens. She had cornbread and I had a roll. Dr. Roberts had the beef brisket with mashed potatoes, greens and corn. We spent a lot of time at Mama Dean’s because it started pouring down rain and hail. We sat there and visited, then we each had dessert. Sharon and I had banana pudding and he had peach cobbler. Dr. Roberts said it was such a good meal that it didn’t matter that he didn’t have plans for the rest of the day because there wasn’t much he could do after that anyway; we agreed. It was, I know I’ve said this, an amazing experience to sit with him, hear his stories and receive his wisdom and encouragement. I’m grateful to Chancellor White for allowing me that opportunity. It was a special moment that I’ll never forget. After we finished our lunch and the storm let up a little bit, we went in the kitchen at Mama Dean’s so that everyone could take pictures with Dr. Roberts. The whole day was magical. Thanks Sharon, for hanging out with us and for being a part of that very special day.

Afterwards, I went home and got a little rest before attending Dr. Collis Geren’s deck party. As it turned out, he lives way out on Hwy. 16 (at least way out to me) in Weddington Woods, and I didn’t see the turnoff. There was a big sign for a peony farm, so I didn’t notice the rock that had “Weddington Woods” carved on it. I went pretty far down the road, turned around, had to get more gas, then called and got more specific instructions. I still couldn’t find it! The way I got there was that I pulled into a little repair shop where two guys were working on lawnmowers and riding mowers and asked them where it was. One of the guys who was there to pick up his riding mower said, “Oh, I know where that is, my ex-wife lives on that very street, so just follow me and I’ll take you there.” So . . . I arrived at Dr. Geren’s house behind a huge truck pulling a riding mower, but nevertheless I was able to get there and enjoy the company of many members of the University community. Thanks very much to Dr. Colis Geren and wife, Lois, for a lovely evening.

The meal was catered by Elenita’s. There were also many desserts, but of course having eaten at Mama Dean’s earlier, I wasn’t very hungry. I ended up sitting and visiting with Dean Beene and her husband, Barry. Afterwards, I followed them out of Weddington Woods to make sure that I got a good start on my way home. I was looking forward to going home to rest.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. It was a quiet. I went to church with my mom and breakfast with the Breakfast Bunch. Later there was a bit of work to catch up and to begin preparing for graduation week. That evening, my mom and I then went to see “Forbidden Kingdom,” the martial arts film. Jet Li and Jackie Chan starred in the movie, a great combination. We had a great time and the day was a very relaxing one after a super busy week. Since we happen to be pretty avid martial arts film junkies, it was a wonderful and restful way (ironically) to spend a Mother’s Day weekend. I love you, Mom!