Barbara Barlow will be putting some miles on her car over the next week, but to the Oklahoma City resident it is perhaps the thrill of a lifetime.
Saturday, she will watch her son Matthew Johnson graduate from medical school at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. On May 18, she'll be in the audience when another son, Stephen Johnson, graduates from Kansas City University's medical school.
“Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be here talking about this today,” Barlow said.
Barlow raised both boys as a single mom. No easy task, but one that she found worthwhile and was completely dedicated to.
“I never felt comfortable having other men in their lives,” she said. “I wanted to be a good mom. I didn't want them to see me have a bad day because I broke up with my boyfriend.”
Barlow remarried after the boys grew up. But before then, there were plenty of ups and downs along the way. Stephen hung around with the wrong crowd when he was a teenager in their native Virginia. Matthew felt like it was his job to be the man of the house, but admits the task was at times beyond his ability.
Matthew is 41 and Stephen is 36. Matthew served in the Army and Stephen in the Navy.
When they decided to pursue medicine after their time in the military, their mom told them to go for it, as she had done so many times in their lives.
“She told me ‘Matthew, when you talk about medicine you speak with passion, you need to consider it for yourself because I don't think you're going to be happy until you do,'” Matthew Johnson said. “That's how she was our entire lives. She always encouraged us never to be afraid of going for it.”