As most folks who follow me on FB or read this blog are aware, my incredible son Tristan finished high school last week, not only as a graduate, but as a Valedictorian and Spirit Award Recipient. This award is given to a student who overcame great hardship and difficulty to earn their Dogwood Certificate, whichTristan certainly has, and definitely deserves! That’s because (as these same folks are also aware) Tristan has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an illness that robs him of 95% of his physical strength, which basically means he needs help with, well, 95% of his physical tasks, 24/7. In other words, his daily routine is much harder than most peoples, but regardless, he handles it with dignity and tenacity.
Being a physical disease, the one thing that DMD doesn’t affect is Tristan’s neurology; and anyone who looks past the wheelchair quickly discovers not just a regular kid, but a very mature young man – one with big thoughts, ideas and dreams, and who has already done so much to set a strong foundation for life after high school. I believe that the hours and hours of research online he’s constantly engaged in has given “T” a knowledge base and vocabulary that puts most 40 year olds I know to shame; he is the most curious and “interested” guy I’ve ever met, a guy just wants to learn more, more and more about everything and anything, and then retains all he learns in that steel trap of a brain of his. He’s pretty amazing, to say the least.
I can honestly say that although I know his adult life will be challenging, I’m confident it will be far less challenging because of his positive attitude towards learning, his education and life in general. As his dad, this fact is a great comfort to me, and makes me so glad I wasn’t too soft on him when he went through those rebellious teen years not wanting to homework, acting up in class, etc. – yep, the same behaviour every kid goes through, even those in wheelchairs – and stuck to my guns, despite the venomous resistance I got from… well, you know. I can see now that pushing him to “stay the course” and not giving him the “disabled kid free pass” was the right thing to do, and this past week we saw the results of taking this road less travelled; and today my
boy young man is all grown up, and ready to be successful in the world as an adult.
Anyway, my point is simply this: I just want to say “Congratulations!” to Tristan for all his hard work, maturity and dedication; and also want him to know that his dad is very, very proud of the young man he’s become, and is also very excited for our future together. Way to go, Tristan! I love you!
For the rest of you folks, I thought you’d be interested in seeing a few photos from the Graduation Ceremony… I hope you enjoy them! Fish… Out!