This past weekend was a kind of interesting day in many ways.   However the real focal point was my nephew’s college graduation.  The event was similar to those happening for many around the country, for his school it was about 3,800.   The weekend also brought forth a number of thoughts, thoughts of the past, thoughts of the future.  It was also a time of reflection, of introspect, with feelings of both joy and melancholy.  It was a very special weekend for my nephew whose road to graduation was pitted with many obstacles, many more than for the average student, but he persevered, testament to his mettle.  His accomplishment brought great joy, to his parents, to me and to himself; I was both proud and happy for him, perhaps more than I could express.

For me the weekend came with thoughts of my son and his college career, the melancholy.  It reminded me of the dilemma of time, a dilemma which asks of the future and what it holds for me and for my son.  Current estimates of my time left mean it is unlikely I will see my son graduate from a 4-year school, as I was able to witness that of my nephew.  I know the time my son graduates will offer meaning even more special than that for my nephew, it will rebuke the opinions of many who questioned whether he would even graduate high school, let alone college.  Yes, it will hold special meaning for me and for him.  I recognize this even more so since attending my nephew’s graduation and  I am hopeful I’ll be there, physically, to witness the event.

While somewhat hard to explain, perhaps define, my nephew and I hold something special.  I think for me it is my hope for him to do the best, to persevere in the wake of some not so insignificant challenges.  What happened is inconsequential, nor the path thereto – not that I really understand or have ever sought intimate knowledge of the path.  What is important is how he overcame the challenge and how he he arrived to where he is today.

In the wake of the events, I began to assist him is defining a path, a path to success in the form of a good college and its corresponding education.  In that endeavor, he was faced with several alternatives, each with distinct requirements and each with different outcomes.  We explored the options and in doing so decided to try to gain admission to my alma mater, an Ivy, by which I was told he would be “very competitive”.  The alternative was to set his sights on the college in the town in which I live and the college where I think his heart really resides.  My guess, in retrospect, was he looked to my alma mater more for me than himself – something of which I’ve been troubled with in the years following the decision.  While he applied for both schools, he was not accepted to either, albeit it was clear to me he would have likely gained admission to “his choice” had we focused on that school.  In the end, however, I think he found himself, he found the joy he sought and is happy.

My son offers multiple “challenges”.  Given his Asperger’s, it is hard for him to really grasp the future ramifications of attending various colleges and the programs each offers.  That said, he has found himself, with some guidance, a place he feels comfortable.  The path is not that which I would have dreamed when he was born or in his early days, but it is a good path – attend a junior college program which leads him into a very strong 4 year school.  Based on his challenges I think it to be a good choice, a transition of sorts from high school to the college setting.  It is also very accommodating of his Aspergers in that it will allow him to gradually acclimate to the college setting.

It’s funny about how life progresses, it’s twists, turns and convolutions.  It is also interesting how something seemingly so obtuse, can offer a sort of connection.  For those who’ve read other of my writings, few as they have been to date, you will know my son has Asperger’s syndrome.  Asperger’s is not something one thinks about when becoming a parent, but once revealed, it, in itself, defines certain paths.  For me, during the pregnancy I had visions of his following in my footsteps, of attending my alma mater, of following a path made easier for him than was for me.  Over time, it became apparent that would not be the case, that the path I forged would not be his and this is not to say I was disappointed, albeit in some ways I was, but rather it meant a different challenge for him and for me.

In reflecting on his diagnosis and the early predictions of likelihood he would not graduate high school, of dismissal of any hope of college and discussions of his requiring residence in an assisted living facility, I find a certain satisfaction in his progress, of his achievements.  I also think there is something more, something that those who ascribe to the idea of life’s convolutions I previously mentioned.  In reviewing the past of circumstance, it almost seems pieces are fitting together.  My son was born to parents who, like many, possess unique attributes, attributes complimentary to that which challenged him.  I believe it is these attributes, skill, knowledge if you will, that provided the developmental framework for his successes.  In some ways, it almost seems that providence, life brought us together.  Alternatively, science may suggest that genetic similarities afforded his mother and I the necessary understanding, the necessary skills to offer him the greatest opportunity for success.

In thinking about our meeting, that of my son and I, there seems to be something more, something intangible that yielded the result.  There are numerous children born each year who are diagnosed with some form of Autism, be it Aspergers or something more profound.  However, all  of those individuals are not born to the circumstance, to the same skills we offered.  Perhaps coincidence, simple randomness, but perhaps something more.  In my mind it is more a function of an intersection of how all involved in our lives responded to the events of our lives.  In my case, and similarly for my former-wife, there was familial affliction with mental illness.  It may have been this construct that prepared us for what came forward, that which was presented with the birth of my son.  I think, as I write here, there is also a connection to my response to my cancer, perhaps a topic for another time.

So how does this all relate to the events of last weekend, of my nephew’s graduation and my son’s future?  Simply put, it is a timing thing, the seemingly uncanny intersection of events and occurrences we rarely see unfold, but which come to us when they occur.  So what is the connection, the convolution of events?  Recall that I was recently told probability suggests I will live another 3 years.  Shortly before that, my son learned he was not accepted to the 4-year school of his choice and decided to take another path.  That path, as things turn out, is the aforementioned junior college program.  Had my son been accepted to the 4-year school, it is likely I would not survive to see him graduate any college.  Had the treatment choices I made been different, I may have already passed as others who were similarly diagnosed about the same time.  However, life’s convolutions have now offered me opportunity to celebrate another of my son’s successes, to feel for myself the feeling of being the parent of a college graduate, to yell out “HOO HOO” when his name is called on the podium, to feel that joy for him, that I felt for my nephew this past weekend.

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