nearly a year ago, i was on my post-high school graduation vacation; a trip to both sets of grandparents.
it was a wonderful trip, starting in my mother's parents in new mexico and concluded with a visit to my dad's parents' nebraska home. suffice to say, there was no shortage of sightseeing in both places. seeing new parts of the country was an absolutely amazing experience.
perhaps the most amazing, however, was when i met my nine-year-old cousin from albuquerque, new mexico. i'd never met Aubrey in person but, upon meeting her, i knew i was to be in for a privilege.
despite she and her dad's assertions that she was legitimately trying as hard as she could, she had been having difficulties in school. knowing that my mom had home schooled her children and that i had worked as a licensed tutor through the state, her dad reached out to us about six weeks prior to my visit. we looked into a couple things and i had the idea to have her undergo some testing through the state. i would be there for her the day her testing was to be scheduled.
* * *
it was a great visit with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, including Aubrey. we got acquainted, we visited the four corners monument at the intersection of new mexico-arizona-utah-colorado, and we took Aubrey to her testing.
what we found out was that Aubrey, who described her homework as "all inside-out" was dyslexic. she would begin getting help to work through it immediately.
following that visit last summer, i wrote the following blog: http://tinyurl.com/3um2987
* * *
my oldest brother's wedding was last weekend in san jose (about an hour south of he and my now sister-in-law's home of san francisco). family members came from all around the country, including Aubrey and her dad. i had a hunch they might show up with my grandparents, but was unsure until they all rolled in just a day before the wedding.
seeing my cousin brought both smiles and tears to my eyes. little did i know, both would not go away any time soon.
after the initial greetings and pleasantries, my grandmother told me that Aubrey wanted to see me alone. i had wanted time with her as well. just some time to catch up and find out how the past year had been for her. we'd kept in touch via e-mails and some phone calls, but there would be nothing like hearing it from her fact to face.
a bunch of us had a snack and several conversations had begun. Aubrey grabbed something from her backpack and asked me to join her in private. we went to my room at my brother and sister-in-law's and began to talk.
my now 10-year-old cousin told me about her sessions with a special instructor who helped her retrain her brain to accurately interpret what her eyes were seeing. she told me about how her grades had gone from D's and a couple F's to C's and then B's. she was working just as hard as before, but now feels like she has a fighting chance.
* * *
when i first met Aubrey, she was nervous about asking for help. she was certainly nervous about going to be tested. i still recall vividly the telephone conversation last june -- my mom and i on phone extensions in oregon, and Aubrey and my uncle Richard on phone extensions in new mexico -- where she pretty much outright refused to go.
it was that june evening on the phone when i presented her with my idea:
"well, you may know that i'm going to be in albuquerque in a month and a half. if i promise to go with you to testing, and be there, will you promise to go and be tested?" i asked. "i'll wait for you there and we can talk about any part of it you want to beforehand or afterward. all we have to do is schedule it for when i'm going to be there. would that be all right?"
there was a long pause, and then:
"if you come with me, i promise to go."
* * *
as a registered tutor, i had seen several different students, and each had their own issues. i had actually assisted in helping a 15-year-old girl discover a minor learning disability.
when Aubrey and her father described her troubles learning, it sounded familiar to something i had learned when taking the course to being a tutor, as well as seeing the other girl i had helped.
i did a little test with her the second morning i was in albuquerque and that all but told me she had dyslexia. therefore, the state of new mexico's results did not come as a complete surprise.
it was then when i was optimistic that Aubrey would do just fine.
* * *
she reaffirmed her earlier claims that she would not have gone in for testing if i had not gone with her. at least that's what she wanted to make sure she told me last week when we talked. we talked about general confidence and self-confidence. we talked about pride; not the pride which is a sin, but the pride of seeing the result of your hard work.
we talked about a lot of things. we even talked a little about boys -- and particular cute boy she kind of has her eye on. she says he's funny. i can't believe this innocent-looking angel might already be interested in boys!
we talked a lot about her grades. she calls her academic school results this past year as an accomplishment, but more over, as a good start. she says she knows what and whom are responsible for her turnaround.
Aubrey is the same girl i met nearly a year ago but, at the same time, she's quite a bit different. she's not so quiet. she's not so timid. she's not so unsure.
Aubrey is growing up.
* * *
it was time to go back out to the others and join the festivities of Brian and Carla's pre-wedding night reunion. Aubrey thanked me for my help and, with a wry smile she handed me the folder she had grabbed before.
"this is my writing paper for the end of the year," she said, still smiling. "look, i got an "A" on it! her smile now beamed. she said it was the best thing she's ever written in her life, because it meant more to her than anything than anything which has ever happened to her in her life.
i smiled back at her as she left the room, then opened the folder. i saw the red marked letter A on the upper right corner. i then read the title:
"The Person Who Has Inspired Me the Most In My life"
i love Aubrey ... and i am honored.
- i'm Kassandra an oregon girl at heart. recent college graduate. heading off to law school in summer of 2014. my parents are both u.s. army veterans and continue to serve in the military in other capacities. i have four brothers (two older, two younger) and three sisters (all younger). i love each of them for both their individuality and their commitment to the example set by our parents. aside from my family, i have several friends who mean a great deal to me, one as much as my best friend from high school. she's my kindred spirit and i would do anything for her. i would also do anything for Julie, my roommate for three of my four years of college and my best friend; she's amazing and it's wonderful to have shared this experience with her. i'm extremely strong in academics and tend to think of things in analytical terms. i'm open and honest. note: i'm interested in receiving feedback on this blog, but i request that the comments pertain to the actual blog itself, and i do not approve anonymous comments.