When it came time to take pictures, however, she surprised me by putting on a happy face and cordially inviting her ex and his wife to take pictures with her daughter. The two of them took full advantage of the opportunity and stood for numerous pictures, even one of the diploma by itself.
As I was standing in the back, the mother's 12 year-old daughter came up to me and said, "This is very hard on her. I'm so proud of my mom." I discovered why she was so proud after her father and his wife were gone and the happy mask began melting off of the mothers face, disclosing a face full of tears.
"Her dad has never been a part of her life until just recently," she sobbed. "Everything this family has gone through to help her graduate, and all the time he scoffed at her, calling her a loser and telling her that anyone could be on the honor roll at that school."
I suddenly could see the significance of taking a picture of the diploma. My guess was that the father and his wife had to prove that the daughter they were now taking credit for actually did graduate from a real school.
I asked the mother why she was being so kind when it hurt so much.
Her answer was exhilarating. "I didn't do it for them," she said, "I did it for my daughter."