Just hours after watching his wife draw her last breath in an emergency room, Jon Graves came to the Rock Academy in search of the right school for his two heart-broken young sons. The community he found there provided the boys with a family and helped the new widower become a successful single dad.
Jon, a former Dodger and Padres player, lost his wife, Jeseca Ann Graves, to cancer August 15, 2007.
Jon said he would never forget his first meeting with the principal of the Rock Academy. He already had set an appointment with Dr. Richard Andujo, not knowing it would be the day after Jeseca passed away.
As a tear ran down my cheek, I told him that Jeseca had just died. And right then, although he said he couldnt promise anything, he told me that the boys needed a school, a place they could attend and simply be ministered to, said Jon. It was a simple act of love to someone he didnt know. And it was exactly what I needed to hear. A week later, I received a letter from the Academy stating that the boys had been accepted for the year.
A Safe Place
While the grief and pain felt unbearable, God gave the boys a home away from home, Jon said, a place they could feel safe in the midst of new life without the woman who made our family complete."
It was a simple act of love to someone he didnt know. And it was exactly what I needed to hear."
Part of the concern was because his sons had been homeschooled by Jeseca all their lives. "The thought of sending them to a public school where theyd never see each other, and where the curriculum was, lets say, suspect, was a terrible one," Jon recalled.
In the weeks and months that followed, friends from the Rock committed to bringing Jon and the boys meals once or twice a week. "It was an absolute lifesaver, as I was struggling with all of the new duties and tasks a single dad faces. It allowed me to slowly acclimate to this new life where I needed to work during the day, and then try to cook, do the laundry, clean up after two young boys (8 and 5 at the time), and somehow try to deal with the pain of losing my best friend while leading the boys through their own grief."
Signs of Healing
Last spring, Jon said at the end-of-school "Academy Awards" ceremony, which honors students who have excelled in various areas. "I reflected on the past three years--how far weve come as a single-dad family--and with a smile in my heart, I proudly watched as the boys were given the Olympian and Keepers of the Faith awards."
Despite the statistics that show children who lose a parent early in life have a hard time adjusting as adults, Jon says he has hope for Everen and Christian's future. "And it has so much to do with the kindness and love we have found at the Rock."
For more information about the Rock Academy, visit www.therockacademy.org