Congratulations, Erica

I know I talk a lot about my family, but I don't really mention a whole lot of specifics about them, because I don't know if they want to be on the internets.

This time, though, I'm going to break that rule.
Erica, my aunt's oldest daughter, is graduating tomorrow. She's been accepted to BSC, a 3rd Division soccer team.

I can't tell you how proud I am of her. I mean, I know it's just high school, but this is also the first of their family to graduate.

I'm also incredibly sad that my mother isn't here to see this. She had always been Erica's biggest fan. Mom and Erica had a really special bond - unbreakable. They understood each other. It was like they were best friends. My mother would have been the loudest to cheer for Erica, and do that loud, high-pierced whistling thing Erica hated so much, as she walked across the stage. Mom would be videoing (and crying and shaking and cheering and messing the video up), while I took pictures. And, she'd be squalling, just like she did when I graduated.

Yeah, this is part where I start reminiscing, so go make a sammich...

I remember when Erica was really little, Mom would say, "Erica, would you go get me two Rolaids?," and Erica would get a stool, go in the medicine closet, find the Rolaids, open it up and get two out, and bring them to her. I know most people would freak out if they read this - "oh my God, you let a CHILD get you medicine????"

It's not like that. She LOVED it. It made her feel big. And she loved her Aunt Debby and would have done anything to "take care" of her!

She was a marvelous, peculiar (as in the incredible way) child. I remember sitting right outside the airport (back before they pulled you over and took you to jail in handcuffs for circling the airport more than once), waiting to pick up either Bob or Greg, who had flown in. She was about three at the time. I had a pack of cards, and she wanted me to teach her how to play a game. So, I taught her how to play Crazy Eights & War. Like some baby brilliance, she picked it up right away. It always tripped me out that she was three and could grasp the concept of both games. It still does.

She's always been brilliant. ALWAYS. Her whole life. She got lazy/boy crazy in high school, but who doesn't? I remember my best friend actually handing me her Algebra 2 test when I was a Junior, so I could copy it, because I just hated math and was too lazy to try anymore - psh, I was a JUNIOR.

Oh, and um, by the way, it's bad to cheat.


So, don't do drugs.


Ok, so, back to Erica. These are just a FEW things I can pull out of my head right now. She was a good, sweet, beautiful baby. She was allergic to toothpaste, ranch dressing and red 40. She loved Cheerios and lemon-lime Gatorade. She has a sock monkey that she's had, almost since she could stand, whom she named "Mownkey." She was fun and wild, when she was let loose. She was a mother hen to her baby sister, Shelby, when she was born. She was a performer, an entertainer. She was loving (still is, just in that teenager-ish way).

She won several beauty pageants, and I remember after one, where they only gave her a trophy, she told my mom, "Aunt Debby, they forda-got my crown!"

Erica's a really special and blessed child. She came from a complete tragedy that we thought we'd never get past. Amy was about seven or eight months pregnant when her husband, Eric (after whom she's named, obviously), Erica's biological daddy, passed away, but we'll cover that another time.

I hate that she never got to meet him. He was an incredible man. He was exceedingly hardworking - working at the plant, working at home, helping his parents on their farm. He looked like Phil Collins - only better looking. He had a band called Freedom Jam, and he was a wonderful, soulful musician. He was a DEVOUT Christian, as was the rest of his family. He was hilarious. &=) Just thinking about him makes me smile. &=) He loved games of any kind - video games, board games... He just loved being around family. He was that kind of person who literally could drastically change the lives of people he knew or met, even briefly. This man had no enemies.

He was just a good guy, but that's such a substandard, mediocre description to use. It was a terrible blow to his family, and ours, to lose him. We all grieved about it for a long, long time. Even now, it's hard to think back....

Erica's expressed several times how she regrets that she never got to meet him. I never met my dad, and I think Kate never met hers either. It's part of our "family curse" that we always talk about, but that's another blog.

Ok, on to BSC!!!! The last time I talked to Amy about this, she said that Erica said she wanted to be a school teacher like her mom. She'll be wonderful! &=) At one time, she thought about being a sports therapist, something at which I think she would also have been good, having MUCH experience on and off the field.

She's been in the dorm room before, from going to the BSC soccer clinics, and she said the dorms are SMALL. I remember all about that. Bluh. &=P It sucked. AND, I hated my roommate. I hope she's a lot more fortunate that I was. And, I hope she keeps her tail out of trouble! &=D

She called me last week, to get my address for her graduation invitation (and beautiful senior photo!), and we were chatting about the upcoming event. I told her, "I hope you're not as nervous as I was, walking across that stage. I was standing in the field thinking, 'Oh, God. They're kicking me out. I'm an adult....How did this happen?? I....can't do this!!! I don't know what to do!!!!!!!!'"

She said, "I know. That's exactly what I keep thinking. 'I can't leave. I can't do this on my own.'"

I told her not to worry, because I would be right down the road, and I could be there or help her with anything in the universe.

She said, "You'd better be expecting a LOT of phonecalls, because you're the closest! I don't know how I'm going to do this, because I'm still just a baby!"

I said, "You're not a baby. You're a beautiful and intelligent young lady, and you're going to do fine. We're all going to be with you, every step of the way. I remember going through the same thing 13 YEARS AGO! And all of you were always there for me when I needed you. You still are! There's no way we'd let you flounder!"
Birmingham-Southern has a pretty good rep, so I'm glad of that. The campus is safe, they have constant 24-hour security, a gated entrance, an emergency response team, campus escorts, in case you're out doing late studying, lots of good things. Here's part of an article published Feb 26 of this year:

Birmingham-Southern is the only institution of higher education in Alabama to receive an “A” for safety preparedness, and is ranked No. 9 in the nation in terms of safety readiness, making it the highest ranked national liberal arts college in America.

For here, in the middle of Birmingham, safety is my primary concern - for myself and for her (for everyone else, obviously). I don't want to worry about her walking at night (we've all done it), someone breaking into her dorm, some freak getting a hold of her. God, that's something that would set me on a killing spree.

They don't list anything about their athletics program, but this was her official notification of acceptance on their website!:

Women’s Soccer adds four more commitments for 2008 4.2.2008 | WSOC BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern women’s soccer program has received commitments from four more players, head coach Benji Walton announced today. Lauren Cage, Erica Ogle, Alicia Plotky, and Jillian Thiebert have completed their intent to enroll and play for BSC in the 2008 season.


YES, I'm going to try to go to as many games as I possibly can. Still working on the car business...

Here are their statistics for last year's games:
Overall: 10-10-0 Conf: 1-0-0 Home: 5-1-0 Away: 4-8-0 Neut: 1-1-0

So, she's got a lot of good things ahead of her. I envy her, in every possible way. She's very lucky, and I know that she's off to do great things. She's so beautiful, entertaining, intelligent and talented in just about every way possible!!

YOU DID IT! Congratulations and good luck, Erica, sweet girl, Queenie, Aunt Debby's "Peek!" You're going to be terrific. I'm so lucky to be a part of your life, and I will be here in any way possible, for any and EVERYthing, if you ever need me. I love you more than my heart can hold!