03 January 2011
2011, the first year in my life without my father physically present. I rang in the New Year at home with my husband and a few close friends. They all were kindly forgiving of my exhaustion and lack of cheer. They are truly wonderful people.
Despite that, and despite the heavy weight I feel, the way it hurts to breathe sometimes, I don't want to dwell on the moment of my father's death. At least not right now. The night after we learned he wouldn't recover my mother and I stayed in his hospital room. He was on a lot of morphine, and his moments of consciousness were brief. Around 3 in the morning he woke and had a drink of ginger ale and then took my hand and my mother's hand in his own. He asked us to celebrate his life. And I will.
This year, I'm going to try to channel the essence of who my father was, and who he really still is. The first is with the creation of Facing North. He asked us to start a scholarship for low-income students in our local school district, which incidentally is where he went to school and where I did as well. He insisted that his name not be placed on it so I named it Facing North by using a family joke to devise the title. To us, it's humorous, but to the outside world, the name sounds inspirational. A way to keep pushing forward.
My father was left alone at the age of 15 when his mother moved away with her new husband. He lived on his own and she would stop back to check on him once a week. Left to his own devices, he did what most 15 year old boys would, he slacked off on his schoolwork and sporadically attended. school. By the age of 17, he dropped out and joined the Army. Later, he pushed himself. He got his GED and then his LPN license. He even took college classes.
Growing up, there was never a question that I would attend college. He always told me that an education was something that no one could take away from me once I had it, and this I also believe is true. My parents helped me emotionally and financially through both of my degrees and for that I can never thank them enough.
So here we are, trying to raise money for the scholarship fund. My father also said, every little bit counts, and we hope this scholarship will make the way easier for someone. So each year we'll provide $500 to a low-income student pursuing a 4 year degree in any field.
To give some perspective, in our county 14.4% of people live below the poverty level which is above the national average. Only 17.8% of residents hold a bachelor's degree or higher in a state where the percentage is 27.4%.
We hope to be a small part of making the world better. I know many of you don't know me personally, or didn't know my dad, or have no idea where Beekmantown Central School District is exactly (high up in the Champlain Valley of New York State), but I hope you can find the time and the ability to help a student pursue their dreams.
This blog will carry a donate button off to the side. All donations will go directly to the scholarship and any administrative costs will be carried by my family. I hope you can donate even a few dollars, because really, every little bit does help.
Thank you, dear friends.