Monday, August 18, 2014

Our First Favorite Child

Five year old Ardis Kay held the syringe carefully between two young hands.  She eased the insulin up from the bottle.  Then ever so carefully she injected the medicine into her Father's arm.  Finished she would be pulled into his loving arms.  She also would be praised for learning to do a necessary task.

Ardis Kay didn't feel sorry for herself.  Giving her Papa a shot was just something that she did because she loved him.  She knew that if he did not treat his diabetes it would escalate making him very ill.  Emergency need for food also was a fact of her household.  Sometimes with no reason her Father's blood sugars would plummet towards unconsciousness and death.  Then she would run to pour a bowl of cereal and put lots of sugar on it.

She also learned how to help her Mama when she battled her migraine headaches.  Ardis was quick to run and get an ice pack to help relieve Mama.

Ardis witnessed that her Father earned an undergraduate degree in his late 20's and early 30's.  He then went on to gain a Juris Doctorate, or Doctorate of Law.  He graduated with the special honor of receiving the "Cornelius Honor Award."  He achieved this goal and then worked, first in a Family Law office then as Associate Dean of Career Services, at Lewis and Clark, Northwestern School of Law.  He did all of this while he battled with diabetes, degenerative spinal disease, a malignant tumor in his right eye,  and the need for knee joint replacement.

Ardis had never known a different life.  Content and secure in the love of her parents Ardis Kay also had a charmed life.  Education was a priority in her family.  At the tender age of two she was taught how to use a computer.  Her Papa set her up with educational games to play.  She played them voraciously.

When other children her age were attending first grade Ardis tested at two levels higher than her peers.  She was tested because her birth date fell eighteen days past the deadline.  Public education in America sets a deadline.  In Oregon at that time if you were born one day past September 1st you  had to take a test.  Ardis Kay did not know that she was required to test two years ahead to attend first grade instead of repeating kindergarten. (She had attended a private kindergarten which the public school system did not recognize.)  She took the test for several hours.  When she finished she bounced out of the testing center giggling and said, "That was fun.  Mama, Papa, may I take the test again tomorrow?"

At that moment her Papa and I knew that Ardis was going to spend her life devouring knowledge as though it was dripping with chocolate.  In a parent teacher conference her teacher said that she had given an assignment to the class.  She told them three different ways they could choose to approach the task.  Ardis came to her and said, "May I do this all three ways?"  Ardis' love of gaining education made her a teacher's dream.

The person in public education responsible for the decision of what grade to place the child in, based on a child's test scores, called me.  In a cool and dispassionate manner she explained to me that she had decided that Ardis Kay would NOT be admitted to first grade.  Continuing she said, "I have no doubt that Ardis would do just fine until fifth grade.  At that point the other children will surpass her socially.  This will cause her great difficulty throughout Junior High School and especially in High School."

I said, "Ardis is only eighteen days younger than some of her classmates.  How is it possible that she can test two years ahead of all her peers in every subject but one, (she merely tested a year and one half ahead in that topic) and you think that moving forward will socially damage her?  My husband and I believe that stifling her intelligence by making her repeat kindergarten would be far more damaging to her!"

The woman would simply not budge.  She waxed on and on with pedantic drivel.  Nyle and I decided to place Ardis in a kindergarten/first grade split level class, again in a private school, but this time it was state certified.  Ardis tested at a third grade level at the end of that school year.

Ardis graduated from private school at the fifth grade level.  She then attended middle school in a public magnetic school of the arts.  When it was time for High School she shocked us by wanting to attend a school that had a specialty math and science program.  In addition this High School was the only one that taught Latin in Portland.  It's easy to see by her successful shift from the arts to math and science that Ardis is incredibly well rounded.

Ardis would attend this High School for most of the day.  At the end of her school day she was bused to a special dance program.  She danced five times a week for an hour and 45 minutes.  For one of the years she attended High School she also attended an after school Latin class.

Ardis was never socially awkward.  She made friends easily and enjoyed friendships, many of which survive to this day.

After graduating from Brigham Young University as the Valedictorian of the History Department, Ardis continued her education.  She earned her Master's Degree at Cambridge University, in Cambridge England which is frequently counted as the number one University in the world.

Ardis is a well balanced woman.  She is brilliant but she is also very adept at working with people.  Her background of helping with both of her parents physical challenges gives her a unique quality of empathy.  She embodies well a quote that comes from the musical Oklahoma.  The line is sung by the character, Aunt Eller.  "I may not be no better than anybody else, but I'll be damned if I ain't just as good."

After Ardis beloved Dad died at the age of fifty-four, she again stepped up to the challenge.  When Nyle died, I was left with very little income, and lots and lots of medical needs and bills.  She moved from her beloved downtown, urban apartment on the 7th floor, into a small town, so that her disabled Mom with very little income could live with her.

Not only does she work hard to help support me, but she will often put a random amount of money in my bank account and then call and say, "Mom go out to lunch with one of your friends.  Or, Mom, go get a hair cut, and a treat of some type.  This is money that SHE could be using for her own needs and wishes.

Ardis is deeply spiritual.  When she was in middle school I passed her room one day and saw her kneeling by her bed pouring out her heart in prayer.  Many times I found her reading her scriptures.  She inspired me to spend more time praying, and studying the words of God.

She doesn't just respect our religion but she sees the light and goodness of other faiths as well.  Ardis was named for her Paternal Grandma.  I know that if Grandma Ardis is watching her from Heaven she is really, REALLY proud of her namesake!

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