The Cast: Cindy (all her).
If you don’t believe in God, that’s your decision. But, as for me and mine, we will.
Last Friday, my wife did something that we had both just resigned ourselves to never happening: She graduated college. And I couldn’t be more proud.
Understand, it’s not like she didn’t have the ability to go to school—we live just a few blocks from a university—or even the finances (although money has always been tight). It’s just that life happened.
Recently (last month), my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. However, before we were wed, she was attending college, I had recently completed Marine Corps boot camp. Cindy continued to go to school, I looked for work. Then, our first child joined our family, and Cindy stopped school—for a variety of reasons.
Job after job came and went—because of one circumstance or another. And, our little family grew. The three of us were now four. Then I lost my job, one which I really enjoyed. I was crushed. Cindy—instead of being selfish (she never is)—consoled me and suggested that I start school. Her thought process was that I was never going to get the job I truly wanted without some kind of education. She was right, and 100% supportive of me. So, I did.
Four years—and two children—later, I earned my BFA in graphic design. Perfect. And, right after graduating, I started teaching for that same university—part-time. I would still need another job.
We were fortunate that Cindy had found a job working at a daycare where she could bring our four children (for free) during my time going to school. We were double fortunate that she became vital to the organization’s success and was able to keep working there while I kept looking for more/better work. Our town is great, but employment can be very tricky depending on the time of year and your skills. It’s a college town, and a theater/artsy town, and it can also be a very niche work market. So many jobs and yet none at all. So strange…
Next, I had to complete a master’s degree to be hired on as a full-time professor. So that was our next step. It took almost eight years to do it (life interrupts so many things). Cindy was once again supportive of the difficulties and challenges that that path provided us. We both have recognized the doors that opened up for our family on my educational journey. God was watching out for us.
Now, some of you may be asking yourself, “Is he really this narcissistic? I thought this was supposed to be about his wife?” And, yes, you are correct (I know what I wrote). I’m building the context, okay?
Anyway, at some point, Cindy and I had just accepted that the completion of her education was not likely to occur. Nothing bad about it. She had found a good job that she enjoyed. I had found a few part-time jobs—at once—that I also enjoyed. Things were fine. The children were growing up. There was high school graduation, a marriage, college graduation, and a baby. (that was all just one of our kids! the others were doing things too.)
Then, not too long ago, Cindy decided she wanted to finish the degree that she had begun all those years ago. Her (at the time) current job didn’t require her to have a college diploma, but she wanted it. So, naturally, since she had supported me in my education, I was only too happy to reciprocate the kindness and love. The kids all helped out too. It was going to be great.
There were complications of time, however. It turns out that if you let college credits sit for too long a time, they can go bad—like milk. Fortunately for us, we had (still have) a friend working in the offices of our local university. He helped us get things straightened, and figured out. If Cindy could apply all her trainings and work courses she had to attend over the years—and they could be accepted as credits—she would be graduating in no time at all!
However, this last semester had a hiccup. Her current (then) job position wouldn’t allow her to be in a classroom—time conflict. Well, she had applied for a different job that we were hoping she would get. Same company, just a different position. If she got the new job, she could set her own hours. There were two job openings at her company and she would have been happy with either one. In the past, every promotion she had applied for she didn’t get. To say things were tense would be a sincere understatement.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Things in our families were, um, tense. Our daughter’s marriage was hitting a rough spot. One son moved to the state of Washington for work—third one to leave home, first to leave the state—and he was running out of money. Cindy’s school work was constantly difficult for her—due to some challenges that one of the online classes was providing her. Add in a dash of normal work stress, and some normal house-life challenges, as well as the selflessness that is my wife… She developed shingles.
It took her down. Hard.
Shingles come from the chickenpox virus. Once contracted, chickenpox will run its course, then sit in your system—in your spinal cord. Then, it waits for immune system failure (of any kind). It can just be a weakening brought on by illnesses or, yup, stress. Then it can flare up like nothin’ you would ever want. EVER!
Normally, shingles attacks a person’s mid-section (torso), on one half of your body. Either the right or left side only. Painful blisters, burning, nerve pain, and lots of other fun things occur. The good news is that sometimes, sometimes, a small percentage of people have shingles in odd locations, like on their face, or legs and feet, or worse (this is a family blog, so, I won’t mention the other area). My wife was in that smaller percentage—and in agony.
It was ironic that the stress of everything that helped cause the shingles also worked out so that she could have the shingles. Again, if you don’t believe in God, that’s your decision. But, as for me and mine, we will.
Cindy got the promotion (pay raise!). She could now set her own hours and attend the face-to-face class. She also had a new assistant (who came with the job)—who was very knowledgeable about the position—to help her manage the clients. The online courses were able to let her stay at home, attend class, and do her homework. Those previous courses and trainings, from previous jobs (and her then-current), added to her ability to graduate—24 credits earned in her final semester! She just had to finish it. And, it all worked out. God provided the way and saw us through it.
I say ‘us’ because as husband and wife, we are in it together. However, as far as the school work goes: It was all her. She did it all. She worked hard. She studied. She made time work for her. She fought through the pain. She still worked. She did it. And the Lord made it possible for her to do it all. I know this. Also, I couldn’t be more proud of her.
So, yeah, it only took 27 years for her to graduate from college—but she did. No big deal. (but it really is! Yippy!!!)