This morning I awoke to some heart-breaking news, the daughter of a dear old friend had tragically died in a random and unpredictable home accident. I was there when this child, now 22 years old, was born and watched her grow up to an amazing woman. I watched as my friends raised this incredible young lady, always supporting and always gleaming with pride, they were the best of “All In” parents. Now I cannot imagine the pain they must feel. This news was especially emotional for me as I now have a child in my life.
I am biologically childless by a decision I made as a young man, one I have not regretted but it certainly removed me from one of life’s primary experiences. Today I can experience the joy of a child. I love Donna’s son and really enjoy his time with us, but I got to admit, I have been a bit gun shy, not my usual “all in” approach. We had come to this part of the country to partake in Piam’s graduation from Kindergarten, a big deal here. This was made a big challenge by a four-day cold front bringing big winds to the area which has no really good anchorage. Fact is when we arrived some on the wharf said we were the first pleasure yacht to come here, another said a Canadian boat came years back so we were second, not a sign of a good place to be.
My main goal was to get Donna here, I did that and had a good reason to stay with the boat as the wind was still strong and maybe if I had not learned of the loss of a child of a close friend, I might have skipped the whole thing. I know my friends would have never missed any milestone in their daughter’s life, never!. The wind died down a bit and I thought of my friends “All In” ways, I had to go. It is about 25k to the village from the anchorage, I went ashore not sure of how to do this, but when I said I had to get to a graduation ceremony, the guys at the dock seemed to know the importance and lent me a nice motorbike, so off I went. Now imagine a brown skinned guy who does not speak English arriving in any US town and the locals just handing over the keys to their car? Ya not going to happen.
The Filipinos cherish their children as no others, lots of them and educating their kids is a primary goal, they are “all in”. Each village has several schools and each school has “Recognition Day” at the end of the school year and the whole town shows up! New clothes are bought, hair done and even make up on the very youngest. Each parent arrives pridefully hand in hand with the kids. The village ladyboys, the beautician experts, have been working double time applying makeup, doing the hair of even the very youngest, the entire village is “All In”. Families with more than one child enlist a close relative or neighbor escort the child, each one has an escort.
Awards are doled out for each class and medals given. The first group to receive recognition is the SPED, special education students. This can be hearing impaired kids who use sign language or developmentally impaired kids. I was already a bit emotional after the morning’s news so when I saw the dozen SPED kids in their bright pink “GOD MADE ME SPECIAL” t shirts, all smiling brightly and “signing” the national anthem, i broke down in tears. Donna knows me well now and had a hanky at ready. The whole town cheered them on and it was clear they were loved and connected. They were the first to get the medals, the categories included: young singer, young dancer, book lover, budding mathematician, creative hands, and others indicative of a well-rounded education. The also got sports awards from a recent regional Special Olympics type event. If was not already misty eyed, a tiny little girl with physical limitations was put in a chair, handed a microphone and belted out an incredible song, Who am I. Tears flowed as she sang:
Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
Next was the big event for us; the Kindergarten awards. Piam had some struggles this year adjusting to the authority of a school. He may not be my kid genetically but he sure could be on this one hahah. Once we got a text from the sisters, (we get texts daily of his antics) the teacher had assigned them to write one whole page of the letter “W”. Piam simply wrote one big W covering the entire page and handed it in. I had to try hard to hide my laughter and “atta boy”. Trials past, he did get an honorable award, “Sporty Kid”. Donna was keen on maybe “mathematician” or “star reader” I thought “Sporty kid” was just fine.
I shared hugs with the family, popped on the bike and headed back to find Furthur sitting pretty. I offered the guy with the bike some money and he refused, I did fill his gas tank. Back aboard and waiting for Donna and Piam to come later I thought of the day, the tragedy and the joy I had experienced. I now know I need to be “All In”.
Make Your Dream Your Story
Capt. Brian Calvert