Sorting and savoring, two graduations, 10 days apart

8 Comments

Stand up and take a bow. Curtain closes on another chapter.

It’s that let-down feeling you have after everything is said and done.

Your busy plans are complete,

bags are emptied,

things are sort of back in place

and despite a moment of rest,

you are still utterly exhausted and drained.

Your company has left and life is back to normal – that is until your husband has meniscus surgery this Wednesday.

And looking at you and your sassy pink-haired self, no one would know all that’s been going on because you appear to be coping.

But the fact is you are struggling and you (in this case me) wrestle with conflicting emotions.

Clear as mud, huh?

Without getting too personal because blogs like that make me uncomfortable, this is how I’m feeling.

In some strange way, it seems as if nothing happened because so much happened and it’s just too hard to process. It’s postpartum depression minus the baby. I scarce can take it all in.

Two graduations in nine days in two different states is not for the faint of heart.

Of all the stressful things I have done in my life, having those two events so close to each other is wayyyy high up there on the things I wouldn’t choose to repeat.

Both moments were so significant and emotional, there wasn’t time to absorb one without quickly being distracted by the other.

As a result, I’m stunned.

What did we just do?

Where did we just go and come back from (and I don’t even care about the questionable grammar)?

How much money did we spend?

Why am I both full of emotion yet in empty despair?

The denouement of Aaron’s high school graduation and Nate’s graduation from the United States Military Academy needed their own proper time. Kind of like my arthritic right knee, there wasn’t and isn’t any cushion.

After a graduation celebration with some of Nate’s friends and their families, the Hubs and I were driving on Bear Mountain Bridge.

Nate and I after the graduation parade. I really loved that shining brass buckle. Very shiny.

Our tummies were full of delicious food from Foodies and it was early evening.

The United States Military Academy, an outline of the stately concrete structures were off in the distance.

The view called out to my mama’s heart.

Amber lights sparkled from the windows, the Hudson River sat tranquil and tears streamed from my eyes.

Tears are currently streaming from my eyes as I type this, thank you very much.

Cadets are still in these rooms, I thought to myself.

They are busy doing things, I mused, but strangely, my boy is no longer there.

How could that be???  His (and thusly my) 47 month journey had ended just hours before and everyone had seemingly moved on.

Ring Weekend was such a beautiful night! Now it’s all done!

Nate was ready.

I guess I was not.

As the Hubs kept his eyes on the road, I couldn’t help but reach out and grab that little West Point with my fingers.

Between my thumb and my pointer finger, I held West Point there as long as I could before we passed it by.

I can never grasp what this place has meant to my OS or to me.

I can find reasons to return to West Point but none will be for my boy as a plebe, yuk, cow or firstie.

The pangs of this reality sting and confuse.

He loved that place.

He hated it.

It was so far away.

I loved coming there.

What tumult of spirit!

No sooner had Nate graduated from USMA, then he bolted from Michie Stadium along with nearly 1000 other newly commissioned officers and finished turning in all their stuff.

There wasn’t any sentiment in the departure and it reminded me of the 90 second goodbye we had been issued on R-Day, that never to be forgotten day.

No built-in cushion there that’s for sure.

Pride, humility, loss, gain, and so much more jumble inside.

I expect to be working through these experiences and emotions for quite some time because that’s what a mama does, right?

My boy, that uniform, what memories

I’d love to hear from you if you can relate. West Point mom or not, you might empathize. Thanks for listening…

My boy, that uniform, what memories

A Gift from a Gift – Ring Weekend

5 Comments
West Point is the place for Nate

Four years ago when my oldest OS decided on attending the United States Military Academy, I distinctly remember giving him a motherly nudge in the ribs. As I learned about the many attributes associated with this historic institution, I realized that quite possibly there might be something in it for me. What mom doesn’t like to know that her hard work might be rewarded one day with something sparkly and shiny?

Nate and Grandma along about the time
that he lit some toilet paper on fire…

True, having Nathan as a son is a gift from God. Aside from the time when as a teenager he lit a piece of toilet paper on fire in our carpeted living room just to see how fast it would burn! (who does that???), Nate has been a delight to raise. And though, you’d think that would be enough for me, I admit, I’m a sucker for a pretty bauble. On Friday night, my OS delivered big time.

Nate’s ring is fine but what’s in it for me???

He had just received his beautiful sky blue topaz West Point ring and we were staying at a friend’s house. Although I was unaware, the moment that I had hinted about four years ago had arrived. 


Nate was doing a load of laundry and I was downstairs in the basement with him. As my OS prepared to dump a bunch of stinky Soldier clothes into the washing machine, he pulled out a little black box.


My boy then said with a warm embrace and a satisfied grin, “Hey, Mom, this is for you. Thanks for your support. It has meant a lot to me.”


I held the velvet box in my hand and pried it open. My gift from God was giving me a gift. And this is what I found. 

My beautiful pendant

A stunning West Point pendant made of yellow gold twinkled at me. A sense of wonder wafted over this mama’s heart. Nate had remembered the nudge from long ago. He also remembered that I love the color purple because he chose a light amethyst stone for the center. As Nate placed the pendant around my neck, I knew that many other WP mothers had a similar moment and the same feelings. So much love, pride, gratitude, would it be possible to wear this pendant ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE? 

I can’t lie, yeah I felt pretty special.

I do know one place where my pendant will be seen. This weekend as we travel to Chicago to celebrate my beloved Grandma’s life, it will be draped around my neck for everyone to notice. All I need now is a pair of versatile gold hoop earrings, Hubs if you’re reading this, our anniversary is coming up…hint, hint.


So tell me, do you have a special treasure from one of your children? If you’re a WP parent, share about your “jewelry” experience. Let’s remember together.

A West Point weekend – ring!

Leave a comment

The journey wading through grief while learning to swim continues. In future posts, I’ll document more about this but I have determined that swimming is an homage to my grandma. Not that she was a great swimmer, in fact, how crazy is this, I’m not even sure she swam though I do have pictures of her in the pool and in the ocean! Nonetheless, swimming has become an emblem, my emblem of moving forward despite the current of sadness which I now possess in my heart.   

West Point firsties during the Ring Ceremony

But over the weekend, I set despair aside and experienced the unmitigated joy and pride of being the mama of a West Point firstie. How sweet and kind of the Lord to perfectly situate a celebration in the midst of a loss. My oldest OS is now a firstie at West Point. In civilian terms, he is a “senior” in college. And when you are a firstie, the plebeian life is wayyyyy behind you. Sure, you have some very big decisions to make regarding your future but for a precious weekend in August, you leave those worries behind. It’s all about one thing…getting your ring. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. 

Moments away from getting their rings!



Lowly plebes refer to the ring as a mass of crass and brass and glass but for a firstie, it is an epic embellishment. Overlooking Trophy Point, the Hubs and I along with many equally exuberant parents, observed nearly a thousand firsties savor that moment. Once that ring is slipped over each firsties’ finger, all the muck and ruck and toil and moil they have endured at West Point, kinda sorta melts away. At least that’s what I noticed in my OS. 


My OS marching to the Ring Ceremony.
(That’s not me in the yellow shirt.) 😉

With literally hundreds of stones to choose from, it wasn’t easy picking the right one. Nate selected a striking sky blue topaz set in yellow gold. On one side of the ring are the words United States Military Academy and on the other is the class crest “For More Than Ourselves 2012.” Knowing my OS as I do, I can’t think of a more fitting motto. Two “diamonds” are set on either side and when coupled with the middle stone, a brilliant streak of blue catches the eye. 

Nate’s mass of crass and brass and glass. 

As impressive as the outside, the engraving on the inside of Nate’s ring was as significant. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” is the inscription he personally selected from Romans 8:31 in the Bible. I.love.that. I mean I really love that.

A mama, an oliveshoot, an impending storm 
and a gorgeous ring

This weekend our family will travel to Chicago for my grandma’s memorial service. My oldest OS will be in attendance and that means so much to me.  Grandma loved all my OS and told everyone about Nate attending West Point. Years ago, while out for lunch, she even got the address of a cute waitress for Nate because she was so proud of him and hoped they would correspond. (Um, they didn’t!) 


As an extended family, we will cry and laugh and profoundly feel the gaping loss together. We will eat pizza and Portillo’s then make more memories in honor of her. And that gorgeous sky blue topaz ring will be on Nate’s finger. Grandma would have had everyone gushing over this ring. She would have grinned from ear to ear as if she birthed him herself. 


Again, I sense the Lord’s blessing because my grandma would have beamed with pride seeing my OS united celebrating her life. A mixture of sadness and pride fill my mama/grand-daughter’s heart. Tomorrow I will share with you the reward I received for being a firstie mom…(hint, it’s shiny…)