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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Congratulations Nic!

Tomorrow Nic graduates from American University Magna Cum Laude. Until I asked Nic I was unaware what that meant other then he must have had good grades. Does that tell you a little something about how I did in college?

Anyway this day much like Andrea's and my 25th anniversary is a day of reflection. Reflection on my life with Andrea and raising our son Nic. I will tell you he when he was in elementary school his teachers did not predict Nic would even be able to attend graduate college much less with graduate with honors.

Let me tell you about Nic, a little boy who loved life, had a great imagination and was an absolute joy to raise. Nic attended first grade in Phoenix Arizona and Andrea volunteered in his class. Andrea noticed Nic never liked to read out loud but otherwise was a normal happy child. When we arrived in Alaska for our first tour (92-95) Nic attended the base school. I remember Andrea calling me at work with bad news. (A event that would repeat itself on our second assignment in Alaska (01-04) only that time it would be a call about cancer.)

Andrea called because the teacher told us Nic could not read or do math and was going to be moved to a class for "special" kids and held back a grade. Andrea decided the best thing to do was to pull Nic out of school and home school him herself. Andrea spent the next year and a half teaching Nic reading and math. We had Nic tested and found out he was Dyslexic. Two years later we moved to North Carolina and Nic was able to attend a private school with Andrea's constant involvement with the teachers ensuring they gave Nic accommodations. Andrea was Nic's advocate and taught the teachers and students what it meant to be dyslexic.

We left North Carolina for Kansas and the school on base told us they were unable to teach Nic so Andrea home schooled Nic again. After that we moved to Turkey were Andrea again home schooled Nic up to 9th grade. Then in 2001 we returned to Alaska and we put Nic in a private school for 11th and 12th grade. After years of Andrea's hard work, studying and teaching herself about dyslexia we returned to Alaska and Nic was elected into the honor society his senior year. I know Andrea was far more knowledgeable then 99% of the teachers on Dyslexia.

My sister Maureen reminded me yesterday of a time we were visiting and I was upset because I did not think Nic was going to be able to attend college. At the time Nic's writing was a language of its own. His spelling was so bad I think only Andrea and I could read it. I did not see any way for Nic to function in school other then with Andrea's constant oversight, and it does not look to good to take Mom to college with you. But God gave Andrea wisdom to help Nic. She was also a valedictorian herself and graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA. She was an amazing woman in so many ways.

Andrea always made those around her better. Weather it is me as a husband and a father, or Nic as a student and a man, or her friends in their faith, Andrea always gave of herself. I have thought of her a lot and I have had so many people tell me how watching Andrea in her last years changed them. Some feel guilty for having benefited in their own life from Andrea's death. But that is how Andrea lived her whole life, and you can see that reflected in her journal writings, her personal thoughts written not for others but an expression of her most personal thoughts.

So tomorrow when Nic walks for his diploma it will be Andrea that walks beside him. When he takes the diploma it will be Andrea that smiles the biggest smile. I wish I could see her, but I know she will be there. Tomorrow is Andrea's and Nic's day. A day to remember the special bond they had as Mother and son. They fought many battles unbelievable struggles and overcame incredible odds to be here right now and Nic is well aware all Andrea did for him to walk the stage. It will be a great day. It will be another hard day. It is life.

Nic: Your Mom and I are proud of you! Never let life tell you what you are capable of or dictate you’re potential. You witnessed firsthand what most people only read about, a life lived by faith; a life lived not for temporal gain but with an eternal perspective. You mom loved you so very much. Remember her tomorrow. Remember her smile when she watched you succeed. Remember her gentle encouragement and her tenacity to never give up. Remember her Faith and dedication to us, her family. Remember her greatest joy was our success. And know that the most important things in life are not what you make or take is your faith in God and what you give and leave to others.

I Love you,


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