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Graduation Marathon - I made it! (with photos)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When I found out that my oldest son would be graduating from Navy Boot Camp the morning after my youngest sons graduated from high school, I wondered if I would be able to make it to my son's Navy Boot Camp graduation. It was at 9:00 a.m., in Chicago. I'm in Washington State, which is a 4 hour flight away, and then, the two possible airports were an hour away from base. My youngest sons' graduation was at 7:00 p.m. at night. The latest flight left Seattle at midnight, arrived in Milwaukee (I chose Milwaukee, instead of Chicago, thinking traffic would be better - they were both an hour away.) at 6:00 a.m., I had to pick up a rental car, drive the hour to the base, and then go through security, which I was told would take up to an hour. If there were flight delays or traffic delays, I wasn't going to make it. It was going to be tight, but I was determined to try. My husband wasn't going to be able to go with me, and I was a little scared about going it alone, but as a mom, I KNEW that was the right thing to do. I had to make the effort, because, even if I didn't make it, my son would appreciate that I tried.

On the night of my younger sons' graduation, it seemed as if things were going wrong. After graduation, there was a MASSIVE crowd, we couldn't locate the two boys and we lost my Aunt. Time was ticking away, we had to get to the airport, online check in wasn't working that day for some reason, so I was going to have to check in at the airport, and we couldn't even find my sons for pictures. I was stressing a bit, but there was a part of me that knew that everything was going to be okay. I was doing the right thing, and it would work out. We did eventually find them, got our pictures, and headed to the airport at 9:30. We arrived at the airport at 10:30, I checked in, got through security, and had time to spare before my flight. Phew!

My flight was delayed. Sigh. But still, I didn't fret. Somehow, I knew it was going to work out.

I discovered that there were no blankets or pillows on the plane, which made sleeping difficult. But I bundled up my jacket, used my sweater and raincoat to make a blanket, and managed to doze off a couple times.

When I arrived in Milwaukee, a half hour later than planned, it took me a while to find the rental car counter and then there was a line. Again, I didn't fret, I just knew it was going to work out.

Then my navigation lady on my phone couldn't find the base. The rental car guy was nice enough to find and print directions for me. When I decided to go to my son's graduation alone, this is the part that scared me most. I haven't driven a lot in strange places, and I have never driven a rental car. My husband always took that responsibility. I was, frankly, scared of the unknown of driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar place. I felt really good about conquering that fear!

It was 7:00 and I was on my way to base. I got there at 8:00, made it through security, and was seated by 8:45. I found an excellent seat. From the floor, it looked like I was going to have to go up to the second level, but I figured I should just check out the first level a little more closely, and I discovered that, since I was only one person, there was a space in between people about 5 rows up, right in front of where my son's division would be. Yay! I made it!!!

The graduations themselves were awesome! My sons' high school graduation was excellent. Their principal made it fun with plenty of humor, and he designed a program that recognized the individual accomplishments of students, whether that be academic, athletic, artistic, community service, etc. My middle son's name was mentioned several times. His girlfriend was the class speaker. I was so proud! Since we didn't have a lot of time for pictures, we didn't get a decent one of just me and the boys, but here's one of me, my youngest (my stepson) on my left, my middle son on my right, my cousin (on the left) and my sister-in-law (on the right). My medals and cords my middle son is wearing are: a gold honor cord for a GPA above 3.75, a debate red and silver debate cord for participating in debate for 4 years, a medal for being the state academic champions in debate (their team had the highest combined GPA in the state), and a medal for being a Tumwater Scholar (for maintaining a high GPA and having high involvement in school activities).

My oldest's Navy graduation was quite the spectacle! I was amazed that he stood still for SO long. He stood there, without moving, for about two hours!!! I was SOOO happy to see him. He came out of Navy Boot Camp a man. He was a good kid, but now he is so considerate, respectful, and PATIENT. (He never was very patient, but he is now.) Here are a couple pictures of his graduation and him and me. He got a "Sharpshooter pin", for excellence in the weapons portion of his training. He was just a few points below "Expert", which is the highest level.

I was right, my oldest was VERY grateful that I made the effort to get there. He was supposed to have the whole weekend on liberty, but at the last minute, they told him he would be leaving the morning after his graduation. I was scheduled to stay there for the entire weekend. But, I have NO regrets. Even to see him for only one day, it was 100% worth it. I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do, I faced my fears and did it, and everything worked out. I feel great about having made the right choice.

I ended up having a great time in on my own in Chicago, which I'll write about in another blog.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • _LINDA
    You are an awesome Mom and have sons you can be really proud of!! So glad you made it to the graduation!!
    3276 days ago
    FW, You did an awesome job! tackling all sorts of obstacles to Make It Happen! Congratulations for the successful kiddos and successful solo-traveling!
    3307 days ago
  • ERIN4771
    how awesome to have been there!! i love that you conquered so many of your fears as well my friend, that is great!! love the pictures as well!!!
    3307 days ago
    You rock lady. I've traveled by myself a few times and it still creeps me out. I always have to be uber prepared. Once you get past the fear though it can be a wonderful experience. Good for you!!
    3308 days ago
    It's incredibly moving to read of parents making it to boot camp graduation and brings back memories of my own son's boot camp ceremony. It is impressive, isn't it?

    Congrats on ALL your graduations, and on surviving the trip. You did well!

    3308 days ago
    You are a truly committed and dedicated mother and your sons will remember the efforts you made to help them celebrate! Good for you: this is a very heartwarming blog!!
    3308 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/15/2011 7:26:09 PM
    So pleased that all your HUGE efforts to get to Chicago paid off with such sweet times together with your sons!!

    Those are the times that will linger and bring a smile to your faces for many, many years! :-)

    3308 days ago
    Congratulations on making it to both graduations. My brother graduated from boot camp there in the 80's, and I remember hearing his stories about getting to and from the airport.
    3308 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6419298
    I remember my Boot Camp graduation more than my high school one. It was the first time I had seen a newspaper in 12 weeks and the headline was:
    Yes, August 16, 1977.
    And then I was stationed south of Memphis, so the whole city was crazy the whole time I was there.
    So good luck and good job!!!
    3308 days ago
  • no profile photo DEVORA4
    so glad you made it. He looks like a really good kid and it is lucky that the navy has young men of his caliber! emoticon to all of you!
    3308 days ago
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