Here’s a story about two kind men, a bright little girl and how sometimes the world is small and wonderful.
We’ll start this story with my husband’s encounters with the girl. This would be several years ago when he was watching his son play soccer and she was also at the games, I assume not as intently watching her brother. She was probably about four, as I’ve heard it told over the years, and she enjoyed hanging out with my husband, who’d had a knee surgery and had shiny, interesting crutches to play with. She often told him she liked to have some of that hot cheese, which means those paper boats of corn chips smothered in a vile orangish cheese-like ooze. She was, as the story goes, also very well versed in fashion. Husband once told her he liked her dress, and was corrected, in no uncertain terms. Emma Grace was wearing a skirt.
So it is that Emma Grace has been part of our world, as he fondly told and retold the stories over the years. Almost any vending stand at any athletic event has that hot cheese, so he would often repeat that phrase much the way Emma Grace once did.
Part two of this story features my dad, also a very nice guy. He was a hard worker, a tinkerer, a computer programmer, collector of ever-sharp and regular pencils, a husband, dad, grandpa, neighbor and coffee klatcher. He worked at the state highway department for most of his adult life and then many years for NDSU’s transportation institute. He loved that last gig, a late bloomer who found his niche as a computer geek at that job. When he died, his transportation colleagues started a scholarship fund at NDSU, to which many kind friends have contributed. Our family also has helped build the endowment, a gift on his birthday is one way it makes us happy.
And now to part three. We learned last spring that the first scholarship would be awarded for this fall. I waited and waited for news, but it turned out the notice had gotten lost in the shuffle. The young man in the office who was to have awarded it to a new student was very sorry he had messed up. On the very same day he realized he had an extra scholarship to award, a dad came to the office to explain that the family had missed the deadline to apply – he didn’t want to make excuses, but his wife had been in chemo and things had gotten missed – but if there were any options left, he’d appreciate it.
And that is how, one Friday night at 8:46 p.m. I got an email that said the very first recipient of the Russ McDaniel Scholarship was to be this very same Emma Grace.