30 Units of “F”

I have more than 30 semester units of “F” on my college record. That is because I had seven consecutive semesters in which I enrolled for classes at San Diego State University and dropped out every semester. Two of my dropout semesters I failed to withdraw from my classes.Of Course, I failed all those classes.

It easily could have been 45 units of “F’ if my older sister Ruby had not intervened.At the time, I only needed one more year to graduate. Everyone wondered why it was taking me so long to graduate. I told them that I kept changing majors and that caused me to take longer than usual to graduate. I was under deep emotional stress Finally, I couldn’t bear it any longer so I went to see Ruby.

I had often dropped by Ruby’s to see her. She would cook for me breakfast in the morning. If I came by in the afternoon she would say “Let’s bake a cake. Then Ruby and I would sit at the piano where she played and we both sang hymns. Ruby and I singing hymns together was a time of enjoyment, peace and comfort for me.

When I came to her to tell her about my school shame she listened carefully and was, as usual, completely supporting and free of judgment. Then she sat me at the dining room table and started making coffee, eggs and toast. She kept up the normal brother/sister chat. Then we sang our hymns.

After the singing she asked me if I had withdrawn from classes. When I told her I had not she said “I will go with you and help you withdraw. Let’s do it right now and get it over with”. That’s how I avoided another 15 units of “F”.

Perhaps some of you are wondering why I did not go to my mother instead of Ruby. My mother was a harsh and critical woman. She was not a safe person for me to be with. In fact when she finally found out I had gone to Ruby she was furious. She said “You went to Ruby because she is soft and would not tell you the truth about yourself. You are just like your dad”.

A few years before my Dad had committed suicide. I did not immediately process what she had been said although I was painfully aware that I had been attacked. Years later in therapy I realized that I had internalized what she had said with my already existing fear that I would also kill myself. Her comment reinforced and gave strength to the idea that it was inevitable that someday I would also commit suicide. My dad died when he was 53. I clearly remember the relief I felt when I turned 54 and had not killed myself.

Not long afterward, I volunteered for the draft. I am grateful that I did not have to go to war. The closest I got was during the Cuban missile crises. My division was put on alert.All the soldiers in my Division were ordered to send home their wives. An Airborne Division had been moved to southern Florida and we were preparing to move to their base in Georgia as the reserve force.

In the end, things worked out well for me. Decades later I got my BS and my MA from Azusa Pacific University. A lovely wife and two of my daughters were around me and helped me when I got my BA. My other two daughters were there when I got my MA.

Of course the children were all very small during this time. Nevertheless, their love and almost worship of their Dad was enormously helpful and healing to me. The fact that I had been in the army allowed us to use the GI Bill as income during my Azusa Pacific years and the GI bill also helped us finance the house we later bought.

One of the foundational beliefs of my life is that if God can use the murder of His/her son she/he can use anything that happens in my life to my benefit. At a low time in life I once said “If god could only use the things I do right to mature me he/she would have a whole lot less to work with”.

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