MEDFORD, MA—With the methodical focus of an elite Special Forces unit, relatives of Tufts University senior Hayley Goldschmidt drew up final plans on Tuesday for maneuvering her grandmother Diane Goldschmidt, 81, comfortably through the school’s upcoming commencement ceremony.
According to sources, the eight-and-a-half-hour graduation day campaign, split into indoor and outdoor phases, will reportedly involve transporting the mobility-limited octogenarian to and from her hotel of origin, securing a seat for her near the stage, maintaining food and water supplies, and navigating as many as five trips to the bathroom.
“Once we’re on the ground, it’s going to be chaotic,” mission leader and main coordinator of logistics Dennis Goldschmidt, 54, told a group of gathered family members as well as Hayley herself, who was patched into the briefing via speakerphone uplink. “You’re going to have thousands of people all trying to do the same thing at the same time, so the goal is to get Grandma in, see Hayley get her diploma, and get her out as quickly as possible with minimum fuss.”
“We meet outside the hotel lobby at exactly 7:45 a.m.,” he added. “Then we move.”
After confirming that all family members would remain in direct contact throughout the high-risk operation, Goldschmidt reportedly outlined the precise route from the hotel to the university their two-car convoy would take, including an alternate emergency route should unforeseen traffic prove too heavy. Upon arrival to campus, he explained, three people would exit the forward vehicle and take up positions flanking their grandmother, escorting her to her seat while he doubled back to the parking lot.
Goldschmidt said that approximately 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony, he would rendezvous with the rest of the group, making a supply drop of camera equipment, water bottles, a stack of programs, and a wallet-sized magnifying glass.
Then, sources confirmed, “Grandma will take her pills.”
“Once the Academic Procession starts, there’s no getting up—we’ve got to be ready for any possible contingency,” Goldschmidt said, forcefully reminding the group that they could be pinned down by ceremonial observances for two hours or longer. “I want a portable seat cushion in case they don’t have one there, backup batteries for her travel fan, and a handkerchief for her sunglasses.”
“And that walker better be unfolded and ready to roll the moment the last diploma is distributed,” he added, plotting a set of waypoints to an area behind the student union where the group would mobilize for family photos.
According to sources with knowledge of this phase of the operation, “Grandma pictures” would take place on a bench that advance scouts said would provide sufficient shade cover. The group reportedly hopes to avoid a repeat of 2009, when, at Hayley’s brother’s graduation from Georgia Tech, the elder matriarch grew fatigued in the afternoon heat, forcing the family to call in a golf cart and make a tactical retreat to an air-conditioned tent.
“Assuming all has gone to plan, we will then extract Grandma from the campus and transport her to the hotel, where she will have her nap from 3 to 4,” Goldschmidt said. “That should give her a wide enough window to have her tea, freshen up, and be ready for our 5:30 dinner reservation.”
At press time, a concerned Goldschmidt was gathering intelligence on the weekend weather and planning for a worst-case scenario in which a designated member from his unit would have to hold an umbrella over Grandma’s head all morning.