A happy family celebrates my niece Amanda’s graduation, from the left, niece Becky, nephew Matthew, Amanda, sister-in-law Sonya, my brother Mike.
May 10 through May 15 was my first solo travel post-stroke. I can hardly classify my trip to Virginia as a solo travel experience, though. The successful air travel to visit my brother’s family and attend his daughter Amanda’s college graduation was a cooperative effort that got me ready and got me to my destination and back.
Although husband Walter stayed behind to work, he was patient and meticulous in making arrangements and helping me assemble and pack essentials and even things I considered essential but were not.
Family members, friends and neighbors, both in Mississippi and Virginia provided helpful suggestions, encouragement and equipment. Exceptional employees associated with airlines and airports I frequented made the journey a pleasant adventure. And thanks to the kindness and quick action of several strangers on the flights home, I survived a nosebleed of “Oh-my-goodness-the-dam-just-broke” proportions.
Friday night Helen and Steve, friends of my brother and sister-in-law welcomed us into their Lynchburg home in the filled-to-capacity university town so that we were not faced with hours travel on the two days of ceremonies.
Brother Mike, sister-in-law Sonya, and their offspring Amanda, Becky and Matthew had given much thought to my safety, energy levels and ability to cope in new environments and were always ready to help when I needed it.
Each of these individuals was a blessing and contributed to my experiencing so many joyful moments. Here are a few of those moments from my camera and from the cameras of others:
Amanda on the Jumbotron as her solo soared through the Liberty University coliseum during the baccalaureate service the evening before graduation
Niece Becky and boyfriend Josh
With road closures scheduled for 7 a.m. as part of security for graduation speaker Mitt Romney, we were on the University campus before 7 and in place in the handicapped section of the stadium shortly after 7. An early morning temperature of 47 degrees kept us bundled up almost until the ceremonies started at 10 a.m.
Brother Mike and sis-in-law Sonya await the start of graduation in the university stadium.
Recognition by name occurred for Amanda and her fellow music graduates in a brief and emotional ceremony in the music building where they had spent most of the past four years. The professors knew their students well and had obviously invested four years of their professional lives in the young musicians. It was in the communal area of the music facility where families and friends captured their shared excitement and happiness in photos and videos.
And I was so happy to meet Amanda and Becky’s friends I had heard so much about and to be part of their milestone experience.
Niece Amanda, left, and good friend Michelle have shared an apartment and their pursuit of a major in music.
Amanda and Michelle pose with proud sisters and moms. From the left are Michelle’s mom Ginny, sisters Amanda and Becky, sisters Michelle and Kirsten, and Amanda and Becky's mom Sonya.
Joining the fun are, from the left, Amanda, Sonya, Matthew and me.
In the photo above I am seated in a wheelchair that Mike borrowed from a church. I would have had difficulty navigating the distances between events and the changes in elevation without it and Mike serving as “pusher.”
An extra blessing was our being together on Mother’s Day weekend, the first Mother’s Day since our mother died. There was no time to be sad. For me there was just happiness in the knowledge of how much joy my mother took in her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and loving spouses.
A poignant moment with niece Rebecca “Becky” Annette, namesake of my late mother Annette.