Graduation (finally)!

annie1992May 25, 2006

OK, finally, the pictures. I've slowed down, I remember what day is it, and Ashley got nearly $1,500 in scholarships so I'm happy. There's a happy/sad story with those scholarships, though. One of the scholarships she got was the Kristy Auw Couch Memorial Scholarship. It's awarded to the White Cloud student who most closely exemplifies Kristy's love of music and children. What makes it meaningful is that Kristy Auw lived right next door to us and used to babysit for Ashley when she was small. Kristy got out of school and got a job at the Kent County Sheriff's Department as a Dispatcher, got married and got pregnant. She was driving home on a Thankgiving weekend night and, being from White Cloud, stopped to help some kids stranded in a broken down vehicle. It turned out that the vehicle was out of gas, they had stolen it, two 15 year old boys and a 14 year old girl. They shot Kristy in the head and dumped her in the train yard in Grand Rapids, stole her car then headed for Chicago. The girl who was mostly along for the ride got scared and called the police from a motel room in Illinois. They found Kristy, near death. She was eventually put on life support in an effort to save the unborn baby. The baby did not survive and neither did Kristy. Her mother nearly went crazy, and I mean that literally, losing her oldest daughter and her first grandchild like that. Instead, she took the funeral donations and started a scholarship, personally picking the recipients every year. The original endowment is still intact, it's been invested and added to since then.

Ashley cried. So did I, and so did Laurel, Kristy's Mom. I'm sure, somehow, that Kristy is smiling though, at the little girl she used to babysit for. Ashley said that Kristy helped her swim, helped her ride her bike, helped her tie her shoes. It seems that she's still watching out for her, helping her though college.

OK, so are we all done sniffling? Remember, if you tell anyone I cried, I'll deny it. Ahem. A drum roll, please, and here is Ashley, getting ready for the big ceremony. Please note the National Honor Society emblem on the collar, she's inordinately proud of that:

Here she is afterward, with her diploma and her Grandmother (my Mom). She complained that the "hat" made her hair flat. Whatever...

Here she is singing at Baccalaureate. The place was darkened, for some reason, the pictures were "iffy". She's second from the right.

Finally, here she is, arranging the dozen pink roses we gave her (yeah, it's extravagant, $2.99 at the local grocery, LOL, but she's worth it):

Now, onward and upward!! Her Open House is June 17, then I can start preparing for her fall classes at the local University.


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Well, I'm most definitely sniffling but thank you for sharing these pictures of Ashley's proud moments!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 5:00PM
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I feel as if I've gotten to "know" Ashley over the last couple of years. She is a precious girl. Congrats Ashley!!!

Yup, I'm sniffling!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 5:23PM
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Such a wonderful girl, I know you are so proud of her and with good reason! And she has such a gorgeous smile!
What a sad, but inspirational story about Kristy, too. (reaching for the kleenex box...)

Give Ashley a huge hug and congratulations for me! And I hope you will share pix of the open house, too!


    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 5:35PM
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Sniff here too. Whats 'her open house'????

Congrats to YOU TOO, mom! You done good! (grammer and all)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 7:20PM
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I think it's so touching that that is one of the scholarships she won.What a sad story.
I only have to think of my daughter(either one) for this story to make me have tears.(And my DGS)
I think this type of scholarship is so wonderful Annie..the moemories live on in such a beneficial way.
The both of you must be proud.
What an honor.
And responsibility..and I mean that in a good way:)I hope in English it means what I am trying to say.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 8:03PM
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Well, I just bawled like a baby. And you can tell anyone and I won't deny it. Ashley is lovely, and smart, and a great daughter. You are very lucky, and so is she. The scholarship story was so sad. How wonderful that Ashley won it.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 10:40PM
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See, I knew you would all sniffle along with me. Kristy was a wonderful girl, sweet and kind. She'd help anyone any way she could. Sigh.

Jessica, an "Open House" is the party we have here after graduation. It usually lasts all afternoon, there's a buffet meal, cake, etc., and it gives all the relatives a chance to sit around and chat, give Ashley her graduation gifts, etc.

I'm having it at the Town Hall next to Dad's, he's on the township board so I can rent it for $25. Parking and bathrooms plus use of the kitchen! We'll have a really basic meal, BBQ'd chicken, potato salad, veggies, baked beans, cake, coffee, lemonade. The kids will go outside and play basketball in the parking lot, all the relatives will be yelling at me to fill something, heat something, pour something. Someone's dog will wander in and get shooed out a couple of times, the babies will cry or not. All of Ashley's friends will go down to Amanda's and have a bonfire and hot dog roast afterward while I clean the hall.

Nothing fancy, no hors doevres or cocktails or filet of anything, just a bunch of farmers and blue collar workers, drinking coffee and talking about planting the corn and the price of gas and wondering how Ashley survived this long without me killing her. LOL


    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 10:57PM
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Carol Schmertzler Siegel

Sniffling here, too, that's some story! very touched that Ashley won that scholarship, it has so much meaning!

Congratulations to Ashley on all her acheivements, she's a terrific young woman, Annie, and I know how proud you are of her! Way to go, Ashley! and I'm positive we'll be hearing of more fantastic things to come! Best of luck!


    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 10:45AM
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Gee Annie, I've been waiting all week for these photos, I'm glad I thought to look over here! Seriously, thank you for posting them and sharing your joy. Ashley seems like a wonderful young woman and you have every right to "kvell" (a Yiddish word meaning "To beam with pride and pleasure". over her accomplishments.
The story of Kristy and her tragic death was sobering. What a wonderful thing her mother did to establish this scholarship and keep her memory alive.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 1:05PM
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More teary eyes here reading the story about the scholarship from Kristy. It's wonderful that Ashley received that one. I think Kristy will be smiling down on her for the rest of her life.

These are lovely pictures and a touching glimpse into your lives. Thank you for sharing them. We are all so very proud of Ashley.

I just have one question, how are YOU preparing for her fall classes?


    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 3:43PM
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Geeez Annie, ya got me all choked up.

I'm excited for Ashley, this is such a wonderful point in her life and I'm sure she is excited about the future. Congrats on the scholarships. Ashley can do whatever she sets her mind on, she's got brains and beauty and a wonderful Mom, to help her along. I'm sure you are just busting with pride and you should be, you've done a great job and I also know its not been easy.

If I can't get down there for the open house (not sure about work yet) I'll be thinking of you both....I'll probably be calling soon anyway. Love and hugs....


    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 7:15PM
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That's so great-- what a nice thing for Ashley ! You must have be proud as punch beneath those tears you didn't shed . You certainly have done well raising those girls Annie .


    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 10:03PM
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Nancy, it would be great if you could come, and if not, a call would be wonderful too!!

Lee, how am I preparing for her classes. I'm not doing one darned thing except paying admission fees and tuition, waiting for schedules, waiting to see if she can get right into the dental classes or will be put on the waiting list. She'll attend Ferris State University in their dental program, it's only 25 miles away so she'll commute. If the roads get bad she can stay at Amanda's or my Dad's, they only live 5 miles from the school. I'm happy, I'll save a lot of money on room and board. She's happy, she'll still have me to "cook and do the laundry". LOL Plus, she'll be at home sometimes.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 11:40PM
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I know you're so proud...very appropriate that Ashley won the scholarship. Great pics!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 6:47AM
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I'm sniffling too. What a touching story.

Annie, I know you are very proud. Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:39AM
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I don't have to tell you how spectacular your daughter is. What an incredible family you have. You are a lucky woman.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 8:10AM
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Oh Annie, the pictures are beautiful and the story - yes, I was teared up. Ashley's beautiful - inside and out. (even with flat hair...)


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:06AM
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How proud you must be, Annie. Ashley is a lovely young lady and very bright. All the best to her next year.

I cracked up over your description of the "open house" party. LOL - I'd love to be there.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 10:23PM
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Teresa, we'd love to have you. I'm still watching out for that good looking and single farmer for you....


    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 12:25PM
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Wow, what a story, I am sure none of use cried more than you and Ashley and Kirsty's mom. How special. She is gorgeous, Annie. You obviously have done something right, hope I can do half as well!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 4:07PM
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Darling girl! Lucky mom! Good mom! What a tender story. (I'm a weeper.)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 10:47PM
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Oh man Annie.

Ashley is beautiful (she looks like you, it seems?). Congrats on the scholarships and all the very best to Ashley in her future endeavors!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 8:55AM
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Peeking here between 6 packs...of plants that is!
What a story about Kristy! I hope the murders got the book thrown at them...but you know they didn't, being juvinals...
What a responsibility and an honor for Ashley!! How could you ever feel worthy?
And yes....that picture with the "flat hair, I see you all the cheekbones mostly.
What does she want most in the world? I don't mean things like "World peace" and "an end to hunger"....But what would send her right round the bend?
I think of my kids when they were that age.....and my daughter wanted most to go to Mexico or Spain to study for a few months....a year...and my son wanted a "cool car". Both got their wishes, in time....daughter is now a Spanish teacher and son got his cool car and has bought himself about 12 since! Meginning with a Mazda RX7 and on to a T-bird ( because Ford was the only one who would give him a loan) and to Honda's and Acuras and sport Ute vehicles and back to a Mazda Rx8...
Tell her to make a frivlous wish....and see that it comes true.
Linda C....still waiting for the starring role on Broadway

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 7:21PM
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Me too, Linda. I can understudy tons of performers, I sing loud and clear (and sometimes even on key) going up and down the turnpike. You should be in touch sometime when you're in the N/E again, we could hit a show and hang out at the stage door for an autograph or two!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 12:20AM
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Linda, those juveniles had long records, at least the two boys did. They were tried as adults, but still were eligible for parole long before they should have been. The girl went to a juvenile facility.

This year, what Ashley wanted more than anything was to take a trip to Costa Rica with the Spanish Club. It cost $2,000. Sigh. I did everything except sell my soul to make sure she could go, and she flies out of Grand Rapids on July 25 and will be back 10 days later. It will be trip of her lifetime.

Annie (who always wanted to be a Rockette, LOL)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 12:25AM
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Oh, Annie, can you kick like Hugh Jackman???????????

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 1:01AM
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Almost purty as her mother. Throw in half a cow and two jars of jelly and I'll marry her.

: )

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 2:20AM
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I know that scholarship meant alot to both of you. I have always thought the hardest thing in life would be loosing a child or grandchild. The Mom put the money to good use.

Congratulations to Ashley and you, she looks so bubbly and cute, I didn't even notice her "flat" hair.

Tell her to have fun on her trip, the year before my daughter graduated they went on a European tour. I gave her a little journal (among alot of other things) and asked her to recap the sights or such each day so that she could look back on it as she got older and bring back memories. I came across it the other day and enjoyed reading it. She wrote in the journal about the first seven days and then, well I guess having too much fun or to tired, well probably not that!

Good Luck to Ashley, have fun on your trip.

I have enjoyed the graduation pictures.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 7:44PM
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Michael, I'll let her know, LOL. Any kind of jelly?

Woodie, I've never seen Hugh Jackman, kicking or otherwise! I'm game, though, if he is!

Trixie, I'm SURE she wouldn't make it past day two in a journal. :-)


    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 12:42AM
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Well, if Jessy is around I have to say K-Y jelly jis to git her going.

If Ashley is agreeable to the marriage any kind of jelly will do... even store bought grape. If she ain't agreeable then it had better be some of the good jalapeno jelly or some such.

: )

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 3:27AM
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Annie, try as I might, I wasn't able to find a great picture of Hugh , but will have to do.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 9:54AM
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Michael, Ashley says you might want to wait to marry her until after I pay for her college. (grin)

Woodie, I've decided that I am even more pitiful than I originally imagined. I had to look Hugh Jackman up, I must have seen him in SOMETHING. According to his bio he's done at least a dozen movies and I haven't seen A SINGLE ONE OF THEM! Geez.

He makes a pretty tolerable Rockette, though.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 11:23AM
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Annie, I've never seen him in a movie either, I just fell for him when he was doing the Samba and drinking daiquiris on Broadway doing The Boy From Oz - he kicked really high! (I had never heard of him before that -)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 12:06PM
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How'd I miss this!

Congrats to Ashley and her achievments, what a great kid! Such a moving story, talk about bitter sweet.

Good luck to her as she moves on to the next phase of her life, college. It's completely different than high school, bit of a shock to them, especially if they are used to a small close knit high school.

This kid is going to do well......good job Ashley, good job Mom.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Annie - I've been slow to read messages online because my girls just graduated kindergarten - the other end of the spectrum - even though my friends and I are old enough to have high school grads. . .

Ashley looks beautiful and happy. I was touched by the scholarship story. We founded a scholarship when my brother died at age 28 and it has been a surprising experience because two of the students who received the scholarship kept in contact with my parents, including a Vietnamese student who came to the US with nothing and later gave my parents a hand-carved tea set as a thank you. The last thing I ever imagined was my father having a genuine affection for someone from such a different culture.

Later, a young woman from the same college moved in two doors from my parents and she has my brother's old job at the printing company where he worked . . . 17 years later. Talk about coincidences. (She remembers the scholarship although she wasn't a recipient.) Her daughter is the same age as my girls and they sometimes play together.

I'm sure Ashley will always honor the memory of receiving such a special scholarship. She really seems like a special girl.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 11:06PM
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Wow! look so radiant and soooo happy! You can certainly tell a lot of love surrounds you! Congratulations on the scholarship! Out of such a heinous tragedy comes such a wonderful gift to a young woman who is so deserving. So, congrats again!

Annie, what will you do with youself?! Oh, wait, she's commuting to college. Well, a new chapter begins. You should be very, very proud of your extraordinary children!!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 10:40AM
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