A short and simple encouragement to my granddaughter Danika when I bade her goodbye: Exceed your grasp. She was on her way to the renowned College of Charleston for further studies. “Just exceed your grasp in all subjects, in whatever way you can.”
Danika is familiar with my advice, which I picked from the English poet Robert Browning. Browning’s poem was the topic of our dinner conversation a few days ago: “For a man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” What has become a quotable quote, the famous lines originated from Browning’s poem Andrea del Sarto: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”
With revered admiration, Danika looks up to her parents for inspiration: my son-in-law, David Dingus, and my daughter Randy Raissa Lagoc-Dingus. Her dad, David, a magna cum laude graduate from the West Virginia State University, is a certified public accountant, serving clients from various places in America. Her mom, popularly called ‘Randy’ by family and relatives, is a well-known internist at South Carolina’s Hilton Head Hospital where she was awarded a plaque: Extraordinary Care: 5 Years of Dedicated Service 2004-2009.
In their house in South Carolina, where I’m presently residing, photos and souvenirs of accomplishments don their shelves of trophies.
What about me? What has this Lola contributed to Danika’s upbringing? As a long-time teacher of English and American Literature, I could only give Danika gleanings from poetry and novels like Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, so appropriate for her rollicking teen-age years. As high school years went by, what could be more thought-provoking than a dose of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables with its call to activism, and so thus our very own National Hero Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. The latter I’ll take up with her on more relaxed vacation days.
In 2016, I was awarded Columnist of the Year during the 2016 Globe Media Excellence Awards. With the plaque came a P20,000 check, which I shared with three senior organizations in Oton, my hometown. It was prize money I did not expect because I considered that column, “Big 3 little words: ‘humane, just, fraternal,'” was nothing more than a paraphrasing of Pope Francis’ speech at the White House.
I think the clincher was my addition to the Pope’s own dissertation: “Humane, just, fraternal—big three little words—for us, brethren, to be good members of the great family of human kind.”
Did I exceed my grasp? Maybe.
Julia Carreon-Lagoc was a Panay News columnist for two decades. She pops up with Accents now and then. (firstname.lastname@example.org) /WDJ