As Graduation Nears, A Mother Reflects

The other day, Jerri Graham posted a heartfelt message on Facebook’s “Westport Front Porch” page.

“WFP” is a popular online community. But Jerri’s words deserve to reach far more people than those who are members of that group. I asked if I could repost her comments. Jerri graciously said yes.

She wrote:

This just came in the mail:

When I opened the envelope, tears flowed. My daughter will graduate from high school!

While it’s not a big deal for some, it means so much more to me.

We live in a town where we aren’t the norm. We are a minority on top of a minority on top of a minority. I’m a black woman raising a biracial daughter on an at-times stretched income of one.

I haven’t any family in sight. It has been just Cat and me for over a decade.

She’s been this solid child with a heart that is loving and giving. She’s never once complained when she’s had to go without.

Each week since she’s started working — whether at Sugar & Olives, the Y, babysitting or now at Westport Pizzeria — she gives me her pay. She knows that each dollar she gives makes up where her other parent failed her.

She’s been a great passenger in my sidecar during our life here in Westport.

Cat Graham

I came to this town to one day have this invitation in my hand. To raise a child in a clean environment, and where education matters.

I saw it in the faces of the kids around her who gobbled up chapter books, and inspired her to do the same.

I felt it in the parents who sat next to me year after year at school events when we didn’t always want to be there, but always were.

While I was forced to do it on my own, I do know that raising and educating my daughter here — where at least she had a good education, and friends — made it a lot easier.

I’m so proud of who she is, and who she will become. I’m thrilled that she knows herself well enough to forge her own path, regardless of what everyone else around her does.

Oh, the simple power of a card in the mail.

Congratulations, Staples High School Class of 2019!

And congratulations to two wonderful women: Jerri and Cat Graham!

16 responses to “As Graduation Nears, A Mother Reflects

  1. Adam Vengrow

    Very awesome

  2. Beautifully expressed with open-hearted strength and humility!

  3. Amy Chatterjee

    Thank you for this powerful and important share!

  4. Well, you got me crying early this morning! Beautiful!

  5. What incredible women! Congratulations to both Jerri and Cat!

  6. Thank you so much for posting this beautiful piece, Dan. I cried when I first read it on Facebook as I know how hard Jerri has worked to keep life going for her and Cat. They are both extraordinary women! I’ll also bet that the very talented Jerri Graham took that gorgeous photograph of Cat! Congratulations to Jerri and Cat! So very well done!

  7. Alan Phillips

    Congrats to jerri and cat. You both have so much to be proud of..
    There is nothing like the love and passion of a mother. Inspiring.

  8. Michael Calise


  9. Jean Marie Marie Wiesen

    Congratulations to a beautiful young woman, and her mom. Stunning photo 😘

  10. Carolanne Curry

    This is what it’s all about….life, and how you deal with it.

  11. Absolutely fantastic. I hope Cat and Jerru have very bright futures. They’ve certainly earned it.

  12. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    I saw this first thing this morning and it brought happy tears to my eyes. Due to some electrical problems I am just now responding. Adding to all the previous positive comments I would add that Jerri Graham has a wealth of talent. She expressed the moment and the journey to get there with heartfelt sincerity. If Jerri took the picture another talent has found expression. Beautiful post. Thank you Jerri for sharing and Dan for bringing it to our attention.

  13. Julie Fatherley

    Cat,a beguiling child who spent some of her early years in our neighborhood and her indomitable mother who developed granola bars and worked hard
    to support in whatever way she could. We salute you both and wish a happy
    future for the two of you….Julie Fatherley

  14. Congratulations to Jerri and Cat and Staples HS!

  15. She is so grown up and gorgeous. Best to you and the graduate .