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.