Sunday, June 10, 2012

From Henrietta Town Hall to the Commencement Stage (The Beauty of a Dream Realized)

As many of you whom have read my pieces before can by now easily surmise, this is another piece on the subject of graduation. However, one should note that this piece is taking a bit of a different turn in subject matter. Previously, I have written about my kids reaching the point of graduation. I have written about 2 high school graduations and a college graduation. I am very proud of my kids and want them to know that I look forward to the opportunity to write more graduation pieces for them. This piece however focuses on my lovely queen – my wife, Renee.
My wife, Renee, is going through commencement today to celebrate her 4 year degree in Social Work. I won’t lie to anyone. I was nervous about my wife going back to college for her degree. A lot of it had to do with the timing. I had enrolled into a 4 degree program myself in 2010. It took quite a great deal of legwork on my wife’s part to get my college enrollment in place. Once, I have my placement in the program, I had the moment of naiveté in thinking that I could relax since our enrollment struggles were over. I was wrong. My wife then announced that she was choosing to go back to college herself to obtain a degree in social work. I had wondered at the time why this news jolted me so much. My wife pointed out to me in a unrelated conversation recently: “You just don’t like to have things upset your applecart”. That statement proved to be as true in that conversation as it did (in retrospect) about her announcement about her college enrollment. If there is one thing my wife has taught me it is this – An upset applecart is often…upsetting. However, many times, an upset apple cart is often the origin of a mighty fine pie.
I should also point out that my wife’s career in social work did not begin in 2010. It actually began much earlier. Renee and I were married in a town hall in Henrietta, New York in 1993. I had two older kids from a previous marriage. Renee also had a 2 year old girl. In addition, Renee was VERY with child. Our youngest, Caleb was born 3 weeks to the day of our marriage. It was determined in the years that followed that Caleb was born with a mild form of autism - Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified). This diagnosis helped pave a long road of Renee learning to advocate for our children via Hard Knock University (the curriculum is relentless). Renee did a lot of hard work and research to be sure that if any of our four kids, needed services at school, medical care, or even surgery it happened. She proved to be a tenacious tigress who would do anything to provide for her young and devour anyone who tried to impede her task.
So here we are today in 2012. My wife is walking a stage to indicate the start of a new career. Renee is already involved in some organizations that help provide advocacy for people with autism and other developmental disorders. I have seen her help others obtain services they thought was unavailable. She not only allows others to see the tigress on action. She often helps bring out the tiger in others. Her work has even influenced our daughter, Brianna, to steer her own career toward autism awareness and advocacy (a tigress babe in training?)  Be advised, Western New York, you are about to see an ambush of tigers take on autism reform and advocacy bigger than you have ever seen.
Now onto a note of a more personal nature to my wife. Renee, I realize that with both of us wrapping up college studies for the semester, we have both been rather busy and I have been rather silent. I have tried to figure a way to express how extraordinarily proud I am of you today. To do so, I am going to borrow one of our daughter’s favorite quotes: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."  - Eleanor Roosevelt. Congratulations, my lovely queen on the beauty of a dream realized.. I look forward to seeing you move the tassel on your crown. I love you.

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