Today is my grandmother’s second yartzheit. There are still days when I don’t realize it. There are days that my first instinct is to call her, or run over to the house to show her a picture of something that I just did, like say, graduate. There are days I hear her in my head, giving me the advice I need or crave to hear her tell me. But most of all, I am still trying to live up her vision of who I am.
6 and a half years ago, my grandmother had her first heart attack. As a result, she needed to have a pacemaker “installed.” She had been a little out of sorts over the whole thing, and in typical me fashion, found a way to cheer her up. I bought her this:
I bought it off of the Energizer website, as a birthday present for her. Energizer, being good with the follow-up, emailed me a link for a survey. This is what I responded to them:
I don’t have much time for surveys, but I wanted to tell you how special that energizer bunny was. 6 months ago, my grandmother got very sick very quickly, and we didn’t know what it was. She ended up needing a pacemaker, and after having the operation, she told me she was like a toy, with a battery.
And so, for her birthday this week, I bought her the energizer bunny as a surprise. what should have remained a terrifying memory is now something that can be smiled through, and laughed about.
Last week, I saw that bunny for the first time since she died. My first response to seeing it was a bubble of laughter. I remembered how Meme laughed when I gave it to her. How she kept it front and center in her room. But most of all, I remembered how she understood what I was trying to do. She saw that I knew her pain, and she accepted with grace my clumsy attempt to make something hard and scary into something accepted.
Without question, my grandmother was the matriarch of our family. Her gentle guidance is missed to this day. But, in looking back at these little moments, we can still learn from her, and still see her grace in all that she did.
May the soul of Simcha the daughter of Machluf and Rachel be elevated closer and closer to the Throne of the Almighty, and may she act in death as she did in life, and be a guiding light and spiritual beacon for all of us, and may she pray for us now like she prayed for us our whole lives.
So, I graduated. I walked down, wearing my gown, mortarboard, and undergrad hood. I scored some serious SNHU swag, and learned a couple of things along the way.
- When someone my age mentions that they graduated, the first thing someone else will assume is that the graduation was for an advanced degree. Saying “what? you never had a bachelors before?” will not improve the situation. Trust me. NOTE: Not a great assumption for someone who felt like a failure because it took 25 years to accomplish something as simple as a bachelors degree.
- When someone tells me that I’ve inspired them to return to school and get…..I will undoubtedly look at that person like they have 2 heads. How can I be considered an inspiration? I barely survived. I took the slacker way and went to school online. I may have graduated with honors, but not the honors I should have gotten. I failed at that by the smallest of margins. How could someone like me be an inspiration?
- The inevitable answer to “so how does it feel?” will be a shrug. I finished classes 6 weeks ago. In that time, my life has been very full. I even managed to take a full 48 hours of vacation. But how do I feel? Honestly? Like I collapsed at the finish line of an extreme running event. I have been pushing myself so hard for so long that I don’t know what I feel like, beyond drained.
Despite all of this, I am overwhelmed with the support that I have received. My husband bought me all of that swag (tee shirt, sweatshirt, baseball hat, mug, car decals). My kids want to recreate a picture we took at my husband’s graduation 16 years ago. The calls, messages and texts from friends and family have meant so much.
In the time of graduation ceremonies, be kind to your older students. Not everyone had the opportunity to do it on schedule, like the guy in Massachusetts who was a janitor at a college and got his degree in engineering in 8 years.
Two and a half years ago, I began what some are telling me was the impossible journey. It started in September 2013, with Intro to Marketing, and ended on April 5, 2016 with Non-Profit Seminar. In between there were tears, frustration, pride in my successes and embarrassment at my more unsuccessful classes. There were some real bumps along the road, such as the death of my grandmother, changing jobs, and some other things. But now, I’m done.
Sunday morning, I will be marching down at graduation…a graduation that took 25 years to accomplish. I’m a bit shell shocked, to tell you the truth. I went from being a high school graduate with some college courses to a full fledged college graduate. I don’t know what will come next, but for right now, I’m a college graduate.
Given that my graduation is in New Hampshire, and that’s a significant distance from home and hearth, friends and family, for me and for other graduates, Southern New Hampshire University has arranged for a livestream of the ceremony.
If you are interested, and have 3 hours to spare, this is where I’ll be. Being either the only or one of the only undergraduates walking down at the Graduate ceremony.
Thank you for taking this journey with me. No, I’m not considering getting an advanced degree. There is only so much I can put you through.
Thank you…Mom, Dad, Esther, Hadassah, Leah, my husband, my kids and anyone who had the misfortune to ask me what was going on at any point during the last 2 and a half years. You probably got an earful about accounting or sociology or Andre Rhodes, MBA…and for that, I apologize.
Amy, Class of 2016
I came home from work tonight to a list a mile and a half long. All of these things are important, all need my attention, and all have to be done by April 17th.
First on the list was homework, because I only have 5 more days to do that. Oh, did I forget to mention that I will be done with my coursework this week? Between when I finish and when I walk down at graduation (yes, I am walking down), I have a house to prepare for Passover, a forgotten room to empty and declutter, numerous house things to address because now I will be able to focus on them instead of school, and prepare to relaunch my business. Let no one say that I sit still.
Back to tonight. After stopping by to welcome my sister-in-law and her family back from their bar mitzvah trip, I walked into my house and promptly got overwhelmed. The kitchen looked like a candy factory exploded after the kids once again divided up the candy again. The stove was a disaster. The kitchen table overloaded. The dining room table full of things that didn’t belong there. Every single place I looked, there was something else to address that no one else saw. And I stopped. I stopped and looked around and started at the front of the house, where my computer is and my final paper is waiting for words. And that overwhelmed me too.
So I vented. And now that I vented, I am going to get back to it. I am emerging from a bubble that lasted 2 and a half years. One where all of my energy and focus was directly externally and I had nothing left for anything else. Life has been knocking on my bubble for the last 6 months, and little by little it is creeping back in. But the crack is widening, and I fear I will drown from the initial wave of all there is to do to catch up to the last 2 and a half years.
There really isn’t anything to do except stand up and survive it, but, to say it is going to happen will help to bolster me when I need it. There are 5 days of left of college, 3 weeks until Passover, 4 weeks until relaunch and 6 weeks until graduation.
For the last two years, I have known that this year’s shaloch manos, those gifts of food we give at Purim, would be all about Me Me Me and my eventual completion of my undergraduate career. What I didn’t know was how I was going to do it. Sometime in the last 2 months, I found myself saying “Whoopie! I’m almost done!” And with that, the plan was born.
First, I found the bags. Someone directed me to Oriental Trading and I found these bags. Instantly I knew they were perfect. Things were falling into place.
I started baking Monday night with these:
It was an adventure, let me tell you. Anyhoo, they all came out pretty much like they were supposed to, and off into the fridge they went.
On Wednesday, we started putting everything together.
First the bags:
See the lovely use of colored tissue paper to add height and even more color?
Then the drinks.
I really went with this because the Diet Coke bottles looked like SUCH a party.
Behold the finished package:
College officially ends in 2 weeks with 2 final projects, but that’s a different post. From my family to yours, have a happy and safe Purim, full of joy and happiness.
As you might have heard, our son is selling raffle tickets for his school, Mesivta Shaarei Arazim. It is a transformational yeshiva that is helping our son develop into the man he was always meant to be. We cannot stress enough how grateful we are … Continue reading MSA Raffle Update #2
First, some background:
My son attends a school called Mesivta Shaarei Arazim. Those of you who have seen my little scientist grow up know that he had some adjustment issues. He lacked self-confidence, he developed a stutter, he was simultaneously mocked and respected by his class. At the recommendation of 2 people I trust, we applied here after he was turned away from 2 other schools.
He is now in 10th Grade. He is the school photographer, he works to arrange performances for the school marching band, he is class representative, and he is one of a select group of 6 boys chosen to help construct the bimah in the new school building (from raw materials).
My husband and I cannot adequately show our gratitude to this school for helping him stand straight and tall, proud and recognized. The one way we can is by helping him sell raffle tickets. This is instead of him having to call each of you, and he doesn’t know that I am doing this.
Please, if you are able to, buy a raffle ticket from our son Yehudah. I’m not big on pushing schools, but this is a school that I cannot speak about enough of. Please share and promote if you cannot purchase a ticket.
If you have a business and would be willing to sponsor part of their athletic team uniforms, thank you for that too. Message me for more information.
The above message was posted on Facebook last week. In response to that post (we hope), he raised $1,000 of his $2,500 goal! To put this in perspective, last year he raised $500 for the same raffle. This is what this school does. It builds self-confidence, self-esteem and a willingness to take a chance.
Thank you. Thank you answering your phone, responding to a post, reading an email or just taking the time to share this. We are so very proud of the strides he has made in the last year. If you are able to support this very worthy institution, please leave me a message so that he can properly thank you.