Monday, January 17, 2011


I had my phone turned off for a short time last night and when I turned it back on, I had a voice message from my son. I've learned that when he leaves me a voice message it's always something good.  He said he was working at the office last night for about 3 hours and he'd be up late so I could call him back anytime. Of course, I called him back.  (And, I saved the message. I love playing messages back from my favorite guys.)

He had great news. He passed his oral tests (3 of them) for his master's degree! He went on to explain that taking oral tests means a lot of studying, in his case it's been the last 4 months. He made an appointment with the board of 3 professors who would hear the orals and it consisted of three consecutive 45- minute question & answer sessions with only 5 minutes in between each to take care of other business. I asked him if he was nervous and he said yes.  But he did it anyway.  And, may I just say he's a trailblazer in that he was the first one in his class to get the oral exams out of the way. Am I proud of him? You better believe it. 

I've always been proud of him ~ no matter what he decided he was going to do in life. When he moved to Yuma, I took him down to the local Applebee's restaurant and waited outside while he went in to see about a job.  He came out with a huge smile on his face as he had been hired on the spot.  I saw a glimmer of hope in his face that everything was going to work out just fine. He worked there a couple of months and learned a lot about working for less than minimum wage ($2.31 an hour plus tips). He learned a lot about human nature at Applebee's.  One time I told him maybe I should get a part-time job at Applebee's so I could stow away some extra cash and he said, "oh, mom, no, no, no .... I don't think you're cut out for it". He went on to say that some people are pretty awful to food servers and he thought I probably didn't have thick enough skin for it. I suspect he was right.  I try to remember that every time I'm being served in a restaurant ~ try to be extra nice to my server, for that exact reason.  The thought of someone being mean to my son or anyone's son or daughter just makes my heart hurt .... a lot.

He paid off old debts and became totally debt free while sleeping on a futon in the living room of our very small place in Yuma. He went on to another job at DaBoyz Pizza where he did delivery.  His Grandpa Clark had given him a car that had belonged to Grandma Walker and he drove it until it wouldn't go any longer.  He found a little Geo Metro over by the Salton Sea in California and so he and Gene made a road trip over to pick it up. He delivered pizzas in that little Metro all summer with no air conditioning in 110 degree weather. He survived it by drinking a lot of water and perserverance. He spent one summer at Nancy's place. We never heard him complain, not one time.

I totally believe the experiences we have, good and bad, make a framework for how we handle the future. My wish is that Justin never forgets what it was like to deliver pizzas in 110 degree weather.  I hope he never forgets what it feels like to serve food to ungrateful people for $2.31 an hour.  Or, what it's like to sleep on a futon in the living room.  He's a survivor.

Justin's life is a dream come true for me. It's what I dreamed he would do a long time ago. He used to think he was getting a late start for this college thing but I knew he was right where he was supposed to be all along.  What a trip!

So, last night we talked about celebrating his and Amanda's upcoming graduations in May. We're making plans for a 2-week road trip with Flagstaff at the center of it. I'm not a future tripper but I gotta say I'm totally stoked about the next 6 months. Justin and Amanda don't know where they'll be going after graduation. She will find out in March which school(s) she will accepted to for her Ph.D. program. Keeping my fingers crossed for Colorado.  I know ... it's not my life.   But I can wish for things, right?

In the meantime, they both still have a couple of classes to finish up but it seems to be a downhill coast from here.

love, susan 



  1. What a trip for you Gene and Justin these past few years. Now with Amanda to share the ride no telling how far this road will go. We were honored to be part of the ride and excited to be able to watch with you the graduation in May. I have tears now just thinking of this.

  2. OMG ... it's just so surreal to me! I'm so thrilled that you and dad have been along for this wild ride too! I know all of it has meant the world to Justin. See you soon!

  3. BTW...I am looking at RV parks up there. Think we are worth 20 or so a night just for the convenience it would offer. Like lots of hot water for showers to mention and not running the generator.

  4. Susan, what did he get his masters in? Is he done now or does he too want to go further? Wow, I'm impressed. I can't imagine how thrilling that is for a parent. You must feel like you did something right!!

  5. His undergraduate degree is in math, master's in statistics. He's done with school ... ready to go work. I cannot take any credit. He's really brilliant and we knew it early in grade school. Just so thrilled he's been able to find a way to put his gift for math to a purpose. The most wonderful thing is that he's also a super awesome human being ~ very kind & loving ~ more than a mom could ever ask for.

  6. You have every right to be a proud momma! but you are helps to do work that almost no one would be caught doing because it teaches you work ethics and values you otherwise wouldn't learn. I started out as a "flunkie" on a ranch, working in the cookhouse from 4 am to 11:30 pm for $14 a day. From there I worked flipping burgers in a local restaurant. Then I was a telephone operator for 90 cents an hour working the 9 pm to 7 am shift. I was a waitress and assistant manager in a Denny's Restaurant, a secretary to a Dermatologist, an office manager for a psychiatrist, a "nurse" for cardiovascular surgeons, an afternoon secretary at a grade school, an office manager of a chronically mentally ill program, and the lead proposal coordinator at a research institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. With each position I learned more about responsibility and hard work. Your son proves my point, that hard work is very valuable.

  7. Thank you, Jane! I just found my topic for a post this morning. Love that!


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