HERO Scholarship*

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 26, 2011) – Tallahassee Community College has established the HERO Scholarship, designed to help students who have overcome heroic odds pay for their college education. The driving force behind this scholarship is TCC professor Dr. Melissa Soldani-Lemon. She has made a significant personal pledge over the next ten years to initiate the launch of the scholarship.

Dr. Soldani-Lemon was inspired by the students in one of her American History classes to create the HERO Scholarship. David Lowe, a triple amputee Vietnam veteran was a student in her class when he tragically broke his femur just weeks before the semester ended and his injury forced him to drop out. He spent 19 months in a Veterans Affairs clinic rehabilitating from his injury. During this time, his classmates assembled care packages for David and other veterans in the clinic to demonstrate their appreciation for the veterans’ service.

Finally healthy, David was ready to return to campus this fall and finish his dream of receiving his college degree, but the financial cost of college was a problem. Seeing the need for additional support for our country’s veterans and the outpouring of support from David’s fellow classmates, Dr. Soldani-Lemon was moved to create the HERO scholarship, to help students that have overcome incredible odds attend TCC.

“Going to college is an act of optimism, and supporting someone else is a courageous act of optimism,” Dr. Soldani-Lemon said. “We cannot do enough for our veterans here at TCC.”

David Lowe is on track to return to TCC in the fall of 2011 with the help of the HERO Scholarship. He intends to finish up his final few classes and graduate in the spring of 2012. David plans to walk across the stage—against all odds—and accept his college degree from TCC next spring.

Dr. Soldani-Lemon believes that, “The HERO Scholarship is a measure of this institution. We want to do more than just help our veterans, we want to welcome them and ensure their success.” The HERO Scholarship and the newly opened TCC Veterans Center exemplify TCC’s commitment to veterans.

Those interested in supporting the scholarship can visit www.tcc.fl.edu/foundation and designate contributions to the HERO Scholarship or learn more about other scholarship opportunities. For more information, contact Ranie Thompson at (850) 201-6064 or thompsor@tcc.fl.edu.

The Best Lunch that Day

It had been too long since I'd seen David Lowe, the Cool Shiny Man. 

For the better part of two years, I brought gifts from the TCC community to ransom him out of the VA and bring him back to campus so he could rejoin the community and -- above all - graduate.

So I invited him to join me and my kids for a very late lunch which happily turned out to be my third lunch that day.

When we arrived at Sonny's before David, I asked the host for a table that would accommodate his wheelchair. They moved a chair out of the space so that he could pull up easily. Zoe and Zack and I were deeply engrossed in an iPhone app that is a pretend friend who is  pretending to text you when Zack shouted "there he is!" and Zoe added "in the HAT! and he's WALKING!"

I jumped up.

I'd forgotten.

I couldn't believe I forgot that he was better, that he could walk, and of course he would walk.

Before he could arrive at our table, we'd slid a chair in for him and the kids never mentioned a word about it.

The conversation was the usual.

What to order, how the kids are, and why he isn't going to summer school.

We sit in shocked disbelief as David explains how new million dollar arm has cool  attachments like hunting knives and fishing poles.  Then the conversation turns to his classmates, mutual friends and then his family.

David's niece, he tells me, is very into genealogy, a secret passion of mine that I've decided not to explore until I finish two books and somehow have someone ask me to leave the country.

I won't leave the US without an invitation, it's my quirk.

David and I fall deeper and deeper into a conversation while passing the bottles of bbq sauce between us.

We both admit to being closet Genealogists and we both watch that awsome series "Who do you think you are" where people like Sarah Jessica Parker, Lionel Ritchie and Rosie O'Donnell traced their family history and uncovered amazing things.

While this is going on, I can't help how quiet Zoe is being. She is across from me, her face in what can't quite be called a scowl, but definitely frozen in disapproval.

This is strange, I tell myself and then silently try to figure out what could be going wrong here.

I know it wasn't David - she loves him.

I know it isn't the food - she cleared her plate.

I know it wasn't my fashion --  she approved my outfit before we arrive.

 I mentally step out of our conversation for a minute and certified there was no cursing.

Finally Zoe can't help herself any longer.

She stands up from her side of the table, walks around behind Mr. David and whispers in my ear, "I do NOT think it's appropriate that you are talking about vaginas."

I look back at her, stunned.

She leans in close to my face, and whispers sternly "Gynecologists are vagina doctors, I know that Mom. Change the subject."

David and I laugh, and then Zoe understands and laughs at herself.

Soon after that, our late lunch ends and we go off our separate ways, me with my kids and David with his freedom and fishing rod.

Small hours, small talk*

It's no secret around my house that I can't sleep.

 I think it started the night President Obama kept us all up with the announcement about Osama bin Laden.  

Really, as a responsible parent himself, I think he might have considered waiting until maybe 10am on Monday -- a SCHOOL DAY --  fter everyone got their kids to school, got themselves a decent cup of coffee and shook the weekend out of their brains. 

But no, since the President decided to keep me up that Sunday night, I pretty much have been waking up in the middle of the night on my own, wondering if maybe the world is passing me by a little.

I write a little, watch tv more than a little, and on more than one occasion I have eaten Pop Tarts.

Anyway, Zack begged me to please wake him up the next time I couldn't sleep so that the two of us could talk.  I agreed.

Last night, it happened again.

I woke up at 1:20am, put away dishes, folded laundry, watched Nurse Jackie, and  ate a bowl of chocolate chip cookies crumbled into Heavenly Hash ice cream.

As 3am was running into 4am, I was still wide awake, but hoping for some rest.

I set my iPhone alarm for as late as I could possibly imagine sleeping and still getting the kids to school,  tucked a pillow under my arm and headed to Zack's bunk bed.

He was sleeping on his back with his arms folded behind his head, looking like an angelic version of Huck Finn.

I slide in the bed next to him and pull the Transformers blanket over us.

I whisper soft enough that if he's in a really deep sleep I won't bother him.  "Zack, Zack, I'm here! Mommy is here! I'm ready to talk!"

He slides one of his arms around mine and moves his face to nuzzle on my arm.

I think he's probably asleep, but I try one more time. "Zack,  I'm here,  It's the middle of the night. What do you want to talk about?"

Zack squeezed my arm in a small hug, then let go. As he rolled over he mumbled, "Turns out I don't have anything to say just right now."
Zack is getting a much needed haircut at a place where the nice woman keeps spritzing his hair. 

She spritzes his hair, his ears, his face.

She apologizes and says

Magic Bullet Chronicles

My kids have been entertaining themselves like angels while I pour my attention into getting ready for online courses that start Monday.  They know there will be pizza at 6, and until then, they're on their own.

Zack wanders around the kitchen deciding to make himself a snack.

"Anything you want," I tell him, "Just make it yourself."

"Even a  chocolate shake?" he asks and I  laugh.

"Sure, but we don't have the ingredients. Sorry," I tell him while writing "interesting" feedback for incorrect answers to a multiple choice question about the Federalist Papers.

While I disappear into my virtual classroom, I don't notice him assemble milk (oh yeah! I bought that!), ice cream (oh, in the freezer, who looks there?) ovaltine (we had that? I'm impressed) and chocolate syrup.

I take a break and join him for the scooping and the pouring part.

Yes, he should be independent, but in my reality I end up cleaning up after that "independence" so it's better to gently join in at the beginning before chaos can ensue.

 "Do you want me to use the blender or the magic bullet?"

He shrugs while I pull out the small hand blender someone gave me for a holiday (Really. Someone gave *me* a kitchen appliance. For a holiday. I guess they had some eggnog before hitting up Walmart. But that's not the point of this story, so read on.)

"That one?" I hold up the magic bullet.

He nods, and asks, "What's it called again?"

I look down at his first grader toothless freckled face and smile, "Just call it whatever you want...." and go back to scooping the ice cream and miss the look on his face while he thought of what he said next.

Zack then announced -- without much consideration, I might add, as though he had been waiting for just this opportunity to name some thing that might need naming and hooray now it arrived -- "Yay! I'm going to call it PENIS!"

It's Time for a Parade (at least)

I found out when I woke up around midnight to check to see if I'd set my alarm for the morning, making sure I'd have enough time to get Zoe to school on crutches and escort her to the rehearsal for her 4th grade play.

Everyone in my world knows not to bother calling me late, that my phone and my brain turn on before dawn and off at dusk.

That's why it was weird to see I had 4 unread texts.

5/1/11 11:05pm Text #1 (K): Don't you wish you had lecture tomorrow?

I blink hard and smile.  How sweet! She was right, I did wish I had lecture tomorrow.  I love teaching history. It's ridiculous how happy I am when I'm lecturing, but the next day was the  Monday after Finals week, the day semester grades were due. so no more lectures until August 29.  I'm not awake enough to reply with more than a smile and yawn.

5/1/11 11:10pm Text #2: (Mom): Are you watching CNN?

I wrinkle my nose and blink.  I'm thinking a Kennedy Special is on. Or maybe more stuff about that wedding over across the sea. It was stranger for her to text me this late - she knew I probably wasn't awake or watching CNN, so I replied to her text with a silent "no."

5/1/11 11:11 Text #3:  (C) Osama bin Laden dead.

Now I'm awake. And a little sleepy so I read it again to make sure it didn't say "Saddam Hussein" or "Franklin D. Roosevelt."

I read it right. I didn't answer, because it wasn't a question.

Then my favorite text popped up, the one that got me up out of bed.

5/1/11 11:11 5/1/11 Text #4: (C) We killed him.

I sprung out of bed, landed in front of the TV and scooped up every bit of good news I could with a big spoon and a bigger smile.

I wanted to know then -- and I want to know again, now, when we can we have the big Parade?