Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Graduates

We had a couple of life milestones happen last week where we just got a tremendous amount of satisfaction and sense of well being. Our youngest son Alex graduated from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte with a bachelors degree in English and our oldest grandson Caleb graduated High School with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Alex is an Army National Guard veteran with three years of active duty under his belt including over a year in Operation Iraqi Freedom and a memorable training exercise in Japan and he will stay on in Charlotte and begin a masters degree program. And we are pleased that Caleb will be starting at Oklahoma State this fall which is only about a three hour drive from the farm.

It was a whirl wind trip out to NC with us driving down the boot heel of Missouri, crossing the Mississippi river from Missouri to Tennessee at Dyersberg and then spending the night on the Tennessee/North Carolina border and going on the next day through the mountains into Asheville and eventually Charlotte. It was a beautiful drive but traffic was very heavy once we got into Tennessee. We took the southern route coming back going through Spartanburg, South Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia and then Birmingham Alabama (horrible traffic all the way). In Birmingham we picked up Hwy 78 north through Tupelo, Mississippi and followed it all the way to Memphis where we again crossed the Mississippi river into West Memphis, Arkansas where we spent the night. Hwy 78 is a very pleasurable drive with little traffic, an outstanding perfectly maintained freeway, and virtually no development along the 145 miles or so we spent on it. Better take it quick though if you want to experience an interstate freeway the way it used to be because they are billing it as the new I-22 corridor and it will no doubt soon be bumper to bumper traffic and full of eye sores masquerading as progress.

After a night in West Memphis and observing first hand the flooding happening along the river we embarked home on Hwy 63 and what a pleasant surprise that was. Starting on the river flood plains  of West Memphis, Arkansas it gradually takes you into the Ozark Mountains through many small towns like Mammoth Springs, Thayer, West Plains, and many other interesting places. We were traveling on a Monday and we had virtually no traffic and this is a highway we are going to return to later this summer for a mini vacation.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a beautiful campus but its clear to me why college costs have gone out of control. Lots of fancy buildings, stadiums etc and though it was very nice, I couldn't help thinking that so many more people could gain an education if some of that brick and mortar ostentation was re-directed. But here is Al coming off the stage having been granted a baccalaureate degree in English.

There were 3000 students receiving degrees and there were two ceremonies to accommodate them all.

We are pretty darn proud of the boy I can tell you that. We were concerned that his decision to enlist right after High School might result in him not attending college but he persevered.

The Red, White, and Blue rope designated him as a Veteran and I cant say enough about the opportunities that the GI Bill have afforded people. I am not a big fan of government largess but this is an investment in America.

People have commented before that they find it strange that divorced people can remain friends and all I can say is if you have kids together why would you not? Holly and I and my ex-wife Mary (Al's mother) and her husband Mitchell all get along very well and we had dinner and breakfast together and we really enjoyed the visit. When they visited Alaska a number of years ago we loaned them a car and took them whale watching on our fishing boat and when I was in Mississippi trying to get home after coming back from Iraq the last time Mary came over and drove us around and got me some decent food! 

Alex with his grandmother Ginny...the poor guy was on family overload but I think he actually was pleased so many of us were able to come to the graduation.
And this is our grand son Caleb who graduated with a perfect GPA. Unfortunately his graduation was the day after Alex's and we couldn't be at both places but with him going to OSU this fall we will be at his next graduation for sure. Personally I cant even conceive of a 4.0 GPA, I mean, if you added up all three years of my HS GPAs I don't think they would add up to 4.0!!!!

We are seriously proud of these two young men.

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