Friday, June 15, 2012

A Proud Parent Moment--Tom's Graduation and Commissioning

Last weekend was a busy one.  Sherrill arrived Thursday night to go to graduation with us and to commission Tom.  It has been two years since I had seen Sherrill and about five years since the boys had seen her so it was good to have her visit.  She and I drove up to Puyallup on Friday morning and had lunch with my friend, Suzi, before heading to the mountain house that we were staying in for the weekend.  Then I went to Ellensburg to move Tom out of the dorm (and clean) and brought him back to the house for an evening of barbeque, wine and conversation. 

Saturday was a really busy, hectic day.  We got up early to drive the 50 miles to Ellensburg to attend Maddy's graduation in the morning.  When I had heard that Tom's graduation was going to be in the afternoon, I was envisioning the usual June weather in Ellensburg--hot and sunny.  Boy that sure didn't happen.  We froze all day long.  I'm not sure what the exact temperature was but it was 38 degrees in the morning when we left and the wind chill probably made it feel 10 degrees colder.  The winds were blowing 25-35 mph and it threatened to rain all day long.  Luckily it never actually rained.  It was an outdoor graduation so that would have made it even more unbearable.  Sherrill, Marian (Maddy's mom) and I broke down and bought $70 sweatshirts to wear with the two sweaters and jackets that we were wearing and we still froze.  During Tom's graduation, Maddy brought a comforter and another blanket.  We huddled under those together too.  It was definitely cold!

Maddy arrived back from her student teaching practicum in China Sunday night to graduate.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude so that was quite an honor.  She had an aunt, uncle and cousin come to graduation in addition to her parents.  We didn't find out until later but she made the front page of the Ellensburg newspaper talking about graduating with honors and dealing with going to China despite her Asperger's.

Between graduation ceremonies, we went to the Red Horse Cafe to eat lunch with Maddy's family and try to warm up for round two.  We took advantage of the two of them having their caps and gowns to take pictures.  I really thought the place was interesting--given that it was an old Mobil station and that my dad worked at a Mobil station most of his 50 plus working years.

We had to rush back to go to Tom's graduation then.  He was so happy!  I love this picture of him holding up his diploma in celebration.
Both graduations were essentially the same--only the student speaker was different.  But still glad to be able to attend both their ceremonies and honor them both.
More pictures after graduation with the new graduate.  So proud of him.  And you can see how cold we were with Chris and Maddy all huddled together.

About a half an hour after graduation ended, we had Tom's commissioning ceremony and dinner to attend.  So it was a quick change in the student union bathrooms to get ready for that.   Graduation was important to me, of course.  He wouldn't have been commissioned without it.  But the fact that he made it through the ROTC program to start his dream of becoming an Air Force officer and get a flying assignment was an even more proud moment for me.  Tom asked Sherrill to be the one to administer his oath of office.  Bill and I pinned on his second lieutenant bars.  And then he got his commissioning certificate.

Then Tom presented us with Air Force parent pins.  An emotional moment!
Tom chose SSG McLane from the ROTC Detachment to give him his first salute.  Tom presented him with the traditional silver dollar.  He was then asked to speak.  I could tell he had put a lot of thought into what he was going to say.  He was the most prepared of all the new second lieutenants and gave a very heartwarming Thank You to us as a family, his friends and the cadre.  After they had all been commissioned, Lt Col Densley lined them all up to have them salute him.  He presented them each with a Cascade Cowboy coin.

 There were ten newly commissioned lieutenants.

 I couldn't resist.  I wanted this picture so I made him pose for it.

Maddy, Pete and Marian (Osbourne) Speer joined us at the commissioning dinner.  We had met Pete briefly a couple of years ago but this was the first time we had met Marian.  They are a very nice couple.  Tom did something special for each of us.  He wrote individual Thank You notes for all seven of us to thank us for our support.  And he gave each of us Cascade Cowboy coins as a momento of his commissioning ceremony.

It was a very long day--getting up at 0600 and getting back to the house at 2330.  But it was a good day--my boy graduated and was commissioned.  Can't get better than that.

Sunday we got up early again to do laundry, clean the house and get it back into the shape we found it.  We were all really glad to get back to Vancouver.  Since Beverly didn't feel that she would be able to go with us, she stayed home.  But we got pizza and a cake to have a mini-celebration with her before Sherrill had to go to the airport to head back home.

So we only have him home a few days.  He and Maddy left for the beach yesterday and he will get back home on Tuesday.  Then he will be gone by the next Monday.  He has to report in at Pensacola on July 3rd.  Bill is going to help him drive across country.  Wish I could go too--but I have to work. 

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