…and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
I consider it a great blessing to experience a moment when we are captivated by a sense that life is near-perfection. I was overwhelmed by such a feeling numerous times throughout the past several days as I participated in the graduation festivities for Ben’s OCS class in Newport, RI. I am so very proud of that boy. On Friday, Ben was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy. In a few weeks, he will report to the Pensacola Naval Base to pursue further training. For now, we’re basking in the glory of his successful completion of OCS.
I know many of you are interested in details of my trip – so without further adieu, here’s a bit of a recap.
I began my journey on Wednesday: took a flight to Boston, took the “T” to South Station and jumped on the train to Worcester, where Dave and Melissa (my sister-in-law) live. They have been overwhelmingly generous and accommodating to Ben and I throughout these past several months – they gave me the keys to one of their cars and I continued my trek to Newport. I met up with Ben on Wednesday night – and I was glad we were able to do so. I was a bit nervous to see him – it had been nearly 4 months! He looked so incredibly gorgeous when he stepped out of his truck. I was so very happy to see him.
We made our way in to Newport to find a place to eat. After strolling around for a bit, we settled on a place called “Benjamin’s” – fitting, right? Dinner was delightful – mostly because we were both very thankful to be reunited. We enjoyed the summer evening and walked about the town – and all eyes were on Ben. Many people stared at him as he walked the streets in his “summer whites” – we saw a few of his classmates throughout the evening. They aren’t hard to spot! We were both tired from our days, so Ben headed back to base and I headed back to Worcester. Time for a brother hug!
Thursday was a beautiful, sunny day. I woke up feeling excited – the graduation festivities were to begin! I made my way to base for the “Pass in Review” presentation – and wasn’t exactly sure where I was supposed to go. Thankfully, I found a nice man (in uniform, of course) who was able to point me in the right direction. I pulled up near Kay Hall, and settled in for the event. The officer candidates performed some drill exercises and “passed” in front of the captain for their final “review”. Upon completion, the OCs were relieved of their duties – freedom is near! My brother and sister-in-law joined me for this event, aiding me in taking photos and video to preserve the memories. Ben, Dave, Melissa and I headed back to the hotel to relax before the evening’s activities. At this point, my parents had arrived in Newport – the gang was all here. Sadly, Ben’s parents were not able to attend because of Peter’s (Ben’s dad) continuing health issues.
We all got dolled up for “Hi Moms” – a traditional event that is put on by the officer candidates for their families and loved ones. It was a cocktail party-type event and included some remarks and a slideshow of the class. We all enjoyed ourselves and I was glad to get to know some of Ben’s new friends. It was a great time.
Friday was graduation day. My parents and I staked out our seats and were able to sneak in a quick hello to Benjamin before the festivities began. It was an efficient ceremony – quick but still meaningful. Each graduate received their commissioning papers, making them “official” as an officer in the Navy. Afterwards, the newly-minted Ensigns go outside for the “First Salute” – when their drill instructor and class officer salute them for the first time (instead of the other way around…). Ben and I were so very happy for this part to be over – we shared hugs, tears, kisses and words of encouragement and thanks. He did it. We did it. And it feels good.
Not long after the ceremony, Ben changed into his “civilian” clothes – and was extremely excited about it. Despite the heat, he put on his cowboy boots. He had missed them! Anyone that knows Ben knows he loves his cowboy boots. We took a quick tour of base and commenced with our plans for the day. My parents, Ben, and I went to explore some of Newport’s famous mansions. In the early 1900s, several industrialists and capitalists built extravagant summer “homes” along the coast. We toured the Breakers, the summer home of the Vanderbilt family. I had been to the Breakers when I was 10 years old – but I appreciated viewing the structure through my adult eyes. It is breath-taking – I highly recommend it if you are in the area. Afterwards, we had the most delightful dinner at the Clarke-Cooke House Restaurant. The food was heavenly. We ate, drank, and were merry – it was a perfect end to a perfect day.
On Saturday, we all headed up to Worcester to meet up with Dave and Melissa. We celebrated Father’s Day at a nearby state park – classic cookout-style. We played football, frisbee, grilled hot dogs & burgers – it was a great afternoon. After all of the busyness, I think we all enjoyed having a low-key day. We made the most of our time together – and loved every minute of it.
I came back home today…and thankfully, Ben will be coming back to Pennsylvania for awhile before he reports to Florida July 9th. What good news! It made saying goodbye to him this morning much less difficult. He is staying with Dave and Melissa tonight – and decided to take advantage of a perk in the Boston area for military servicemen. He is at Fenway Park – watching the Red Sox take on Manny Ramirez and the L.A. Dodgers – and he’s being treated like a king. I’m glad for him – it is definitely better baseball than what he would see back in Pittsburgh! Hopefully the Pirates will have some home games while Ben is in the area – no summer is complete for us without at least one Pirates game.
Okay. That’s it for now. I’m tired and my brain is starting to shut down on me. Check out pictures from the events on my Facebook page – Ben looks the part of officer and gentleman. He’s a stud.