Tag Archive | high school

USAF Graduation ~

Every time I see dark clouds in the sky, and then the sun shining brightly through them, like I did this afternoon, whether it be just a small crack or a larger opening in the cloud line, I think of November 27, 1998.  Bear with me as I tell you why.

 Growing up, my two eldest daughters were very close to my parents, especially my father, who was the only father-figure they ever knew in their lives.  He taught them all the essential things:  how to make peanut brittle, homemade applesauce, etc.  Dad and Karalyn seemed to have a particularly strong bond.

 In her Senior year at Auburn High School, Karrie attended Air Force ROTC with the intention of making the Air Force her career when she graduated.  Despite the turbulence at home, she was very involved in her ROTC activities, had good grades and seemed very focused.  Her grandparents and I were very proud.  It was designed so that she would travel to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, right after graduation and attend Basic Training there, as the start to her promising career in the military. 

 Starting in late August, Karrie would attend Basic and graduate just before Thanksgiving, and her grandfather could not have been more proud of her.  Karrie was so looking forward to coming home after graduation to share her graduation with him.  No one could have foreseen how things would progress before she would finally make it home.

 My father passed away on November 18, 1998, while Karrie was in the middle of finishing up basic training and taking exams.  I still remember the anguish in her voice, not only upon hearing the loss of her grandfather, but knowing that she had a choice to make:  either come home for the funeral, or graduate from basic … just a few days before her graduation ceremonies at Lackland.  I think we both knew the answer, but I had to confirm to her that her grandfather would no doubt want her to finish the beginning of her new career.

 Al and I flew out to San Antonio on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1998 to see Karrie graduate… only a very few days after my father had been buried.  It was going to be a “quick overnight trip” for us, just long enough to get out there, do a little on-base sightseeing, spend the night, see the graduation, then leave that same afternoon to come home.  Whirlwind!

 

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The weather was less than stellar on Thanksgiving Day, and the next day, on graduation day, it was cloudy and threatening rain the entire day.  The graduation ceremonies were conducted on a very large field, and guests were seated on bleachers, much like at a football game (I assume).  It was so overcast, and I was so certain it would open up and pour any minute as the ceremonies started with cadets/graduates marching and parading on the field in front of us.  I fought back tears (and still do when I think of it) as I thought of my dad, and how he would’ve liked to be there that day to see this.  I kept trying to focus on the processions and pomp & circumstance going on in front of us on the field.  It was difficult. 

 

Getting towards the middle of the marching ceremonies, as Karrie and her colleagues were marching very close to the bleachers, and were about to do an “eyes right” to the Commanding Officer, suddenly the skies opened up and down poured sunlight!  I stared, astonished, at the parting clouds and the sun shining through a separation that shone right down on just this group of cadets!  Just Karrie’s group!  And I knew.  My father and mother were watching, and God was behind them watching over their shoulders from Heaven, and they were all proud.  Yes, I burst into tears at that moment and I knew they were with us there.

 

I don’t tell this story to many, as I have been scoffed as coincidence.  But that’s okay.  I know.  Al knows.  I hope Karrie knows.

 

Karrie continued to begin her career in the Air Force, and was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.  However, she met and fell in love, then married a career Air Force Intelligence officer.  She soon left the active Air Force to be a stay-at-home Mom to three of my wonderful grandchildren, and an Air Force wife to a soon-to-be-retired from the Air Force son-in-law of mine.  They still reside in Alaska.

 

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  I hope you find inspiration in my story.  God is everywhere.  You don’t need to look for Him, he’s there… He’s right behind you, He’s got your back.  Believe it.

 

Until next time, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

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Share Your World Week 51

This week’s thought-provoking and revealing questions from Cee’s Photography

  1. Your most favorite fiction book?  Has to be “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell.  I’ve always been a horse lover and this story has always fascinated me.      

    Black Beauty

    Black Beauty

  2. What one thing you miss about being a kid? Carefree summer vacations.  Summers off from school seemed to last forever for me.  I remember laying in the cool grass under our maple trees watching a warm breeze move through the leaves and branches.  We had a small hill in our yard, that seemed big to us as children, and we’d start at the top and roll down over and over until we were dizzy.  Catching fireflies at night and keeping them in a jar and watching them blink until you fall asleep.   

    Fireflies in summer

    Fireflies in summer

  3. If you were an ice cream cone how many scoops and flavors would you be and why?  I’d be chocolate ice cream (a classic) and only a couple of scoops.  Just enough for a “child size” to enjoy, otherwise I might get thrown into the trash if there’s too much left over.  More importantly, I’d like to have one of those “flavored” cones with the flat bottom.  They used to come in chocolate, red and green as well as the “standard” one shown here.   

    Chocolate ice cream cone

    Chocolate ice cream cone

  4. What was one of your first moneymaking jobs (other than babysitting or newspaper delivery)?  I was lucky enough to be at the top of my class in high school as far as the business courses I took.  In my senior year, I was “teacher’s pet” of the business director, so when she was asked to recommend a student for an open part-time position as Receptionist at the school’s district offices, she recommended me and I got the job.  I started working during my lunch hour to cover the full-time Receptionist’s lunch hour, and after school.  Then I went on to substitute for the high school’s secretary over summer vacation (no fireflies THAT summer!) and other various temp positions throughout the school district.  
    Baker High School, Baldwinsville, NY

    Baker High School, Baldwinsville, NY

    Thanks, Cee!

Revealed Chapter 1: In the Beginning ~

I remember having a good, “normal” childhood until Junior High when I met my first love.  I wasn’t even interested in boys at all until then, until “ST” started giving me all this attention.  Wow!  I was getting attention!  And from a boy!  He made me feel good; good about myself, good about us.  It only seemed natural to kiss him and to let him kiss me.  And that felt good, too.  It only made sense that during April’s Spring vacation, when I was a month shy of turning 13, that ST should ride his bike the 7+ miles to my rural home while both my parents were working and spend the day with me.  After all, we really liked each other’s company. 

 I’d like to say I was naïve and that it was all his fault, but that would be a lie.  Although I was naïve and inexperienced, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I was just as much at fault as ST.  Ignorance is not bliss.  When we became intimate with each other, it was a life-altering experience for me that I could’ve never foreseen.  I did not understand that it would be a defining moment in my life that would set the tone of decades to come, effecting my lifestyle, my children and possibly their children.  Like they say:  “If I only knew then what I know now.”  But, would I have changed anything?  Could I have?  And who is “they” anyway?

 I must admit that the now intensity of our relationship built quickly.  We talked on the phone before school, saw each other and “made out” as much as possible during school, and somehow made arrangements to be together sometimes after school; and I was addicted.  We were in love… at ages 13 & 14.  Is that even possible?  It sure seemed like it then, and I can remember it and still feel it like it was yesterday.  I made it to the ripe age of 13 before I became pregnant ~ surprise!  I won’t elaborate on this time of my life, because I already have covered most of it in my “Forgiven and Set Free” post.  I now have a better understanding and am able to cope with the subsequent abortion, after which my son’s father wanted nothing to do with me… another defining moment.

 The rejection that ensued left me feeling desolate, inadequate and shattered my self esteem.  In 9th grade, I may possibly have been the only student at Baker High School that kept a bottle of liquor available in my locker for daily consumption… who knows?  I drank in private and I drank to replace the feeling of emptiness that was left behind when ST turned his attentions to other girls in school.  I experienced intense jealousy that consumed me every day.  It left me miserable, and desperate to find something, or a someone, to make me feel good again like he had.  So, “someone” it was!  Or perhaps I should make that plural.  Thus, I began what would be a series of “relationships” with pretty much anyone who would look at me and show me any attention.  I didn’t really care.  Some were friends from school, some were acquaintances or friends of friends, some I picked up in local bars. 

When I turned 16, I was frequenting bars in the Baldwinsville area with a girlfriend, and meeting men.  No one ever checked ID back then.  Even the guys over the age of 18 and 21 who often took me home ~ to their place or not.  Talk about risky behavior!  It didn’t feel risky to me.  I was just getting what I needed (attention) from whatever source could be obtained.  At 16 I was with a friend in my favorite B’ville bar, we were enjoying a band that we had been following, and this guy asked me to dance.  I obliged.  He was kind.  He stayed with us the rest of the evening, then took us home to my friend’s house (I was spending the night with her).  On the way, he talked me into meeting him the next day, and he would take me for a ride and we’d just talk.  How absolutely dangerous and exciting!  I had no idea who this stranger was!  But I met him the next day anyway, and got in his car.  He drove me back to Baldwinsville, and to his apartment.  After it was all over, he confided that he was a teacher in one of the middle schools there in Baldwinsville.  I didn’t care about any of that, I’d gotten the attention I craved.  His name?  Never got it.   Next!

 From that point on, it was one selfish, irresponsible thing after another throughout the rest of high school.  I’m not sure how I managed to get through the business curriculum I was enrolled in, and be exceptional at it, but I did, even after I began using drugs at age 16 or 17.  Well, because, all my other new friends were doing it!  And it made me feel good and/or made me not feel at all.  I don’t recall having a “home life” during those tumultuous years of sex, drugs and alcohol in school ~ everything pretty much revolved around getting away from my parents and my home and having fun.  Was this fun?  I couldn’t tell anymore.

Next Chapter:  Senior Year