My Dear SMA Family,
This time of year is often a time of reflection of the months past, accomplishments and challenges, seasoned and new relationships, and of course, wishes for the future. Many thoughts meander through my mind during this season, and these past few months with my SMA family have brought multiple joys, tears, and feelings of thankfulness.
The holiday season always leads to a reflection on memories of the past; special relationships, loss of loved ones, mentors and pillars that have influenced who I am. The most prominent of my musings is most often the loss of loved ones, bringing to mind, of course, my mother, Janine Antonia, and the influence she has had on me, as well as the regret that I can’t share my joys and successes with her any longer. My prayers to Mom (I’m a mamma’s boy by the way) are most often a conversation asking her guidance in my continuous work toward being a better husband and father, and of course hoping for her approval of who I am as a man. The questions usually include;
- “Do I support and show my love to my bride enough, and do you think she finds me worthy?” Good questions to always reflect on as a life partner.
- “Can you keep an eye on my Dago Flower (daughter)? She doesn’t think she needs help, but I always worry.” “Oh, and isn’t your great-grandson amazing?!?” Being a single mom so far away from family to support her, and not one to show emotion or ask for help (like her dad), exacerbates the worries.
- “Our little Bug has blossomed into an amazing Mom of two and is married to a dad-approved young man that treats her like the princess she is, and don’t you just want to pinch those chubby cheeks of those two beautiful great grandbabies?” (I so wish my grandchildren and I weren’t so many miles apart.)
- “Please help me to show my love for my incredible new daughters (step) that just continue to make me proud, and struggle themselves with their challenging relationship with a distant father. I just want so badly for them to feel love; they deserve it.”
- “Oh, and Little Bit (named Antonia for you); I do so wish you could have met her. She often asks about you … she consistently reminds me of you … almost like you are there sitting next to me.”
These conversations help me to keep focused on the importance of personal relationships, and I share them with you to give you a greater understanding of my social/emotional mindset, and the importance of the human aspect of all we do.
In reflection of those lost, and relationships that may have been placed on an obscure shelf though still reside in my memories, I would be remiss to not recognize those that continue to influence who I am as a man, father, husband, and educator.
- “Max; how I wish I could have known you personally.” This type of loss can never be understood. In my years as an educator within a diverse community that is over-represented among suicide statistics (Native American and Veterans), I have unfortunately been directly affected by these occurrences. Max, one other completed attempt during my tenure as an administrator, and seven other attempts. It seems too many … but really, one is too many. I promise I will be here for you. There is a better option. Please, let me talk to you. To Max’s family … “you are in my prayers.”
- To my Six … “you are always in my mind, and I always feel you there with me … I will never forget, though we are separated by borders and boundaries, time and life paths … I’ve got your six.” There is one I need to call this week … I pray his new leader has his six.
Reflecting on the joys, I am immediately prompted to be thankful for my family, to include my SMA family. My family and I have felt so welcomed by the staff, faculty, cadets, and families and just feel as if we are home. There are so many to be thankful for that I will only mention a few here, but I do hope you all know how you have influenced me.
- “Gerlie (my dear bride), these past ten years continue to be the greatest and are only getting better … I am so happy that Florida’s west coast reminds you of your island home, and pray that I live up to what you deserve!” Always remind those you love how important they are.
- “Abby and Cathy (SMA-LTCs Williams and Rodriguez), I cannot express how important you are to me … how your influence makes me a better man, colleague, and leader. I cannot imagine my role here without your influence. Don’t ever think of leaving me! J” It is cliché to say that “It takes a village”, but I will say that my success takes a team – the A TEAM!
- “Colleagues, faculty, staff, directors, and most importantly my Instructional Leadership Team, I cannot be thankful enough for your influence, professionalism, advice, and especially your candid conversations that help me to keep the morale of our family and the wellness of our cadets the focus of our mission. Thank you!” I am blessed to work with so many incredible individuals with so many amazing stories and accomplishments!
- “Monika and Angela … I can never tell you enough that you are the reason it all works!” You know that saying that behind every good man is a great woman? I have five great women that make me look good … Gerlie, Abby, Cathy … MONIKA and ANGELA!
- “That mom, you know who you are, that gave me the orange and green vests to wear at the car line … thank you! Your random act of kindness is what makes humans great!”
- “That cadet that thanked me for caring … please know you have the power … you too can have that effect on someone.”
I am continuously thankful for these blessings in my life. Have a great break, and see you next year!