This summer, the whole fam-damily went on a two-week jaunt to the 49th State. We flew to Vancouver first – by way of L.A., with a long layover. In fact, the layover was so long that we left the airport and toured SoFi Stadium.
Then we spent a few days in Vancouver, a city I’d always heard great things about and wanted to visit. It did not disappoint.
Next was boarding a cruise ship for a seven-day journey to Alaska via the Inside Passage.
We made stops in Juneau, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Skagway and ended in Seward. We found a fun hike at every stop. In Juneau, we saw “bubble net feeding” by a group of humpback whales. Glaciers galore! The occasional moose sighting. You know, your typical, everyday sights.
After an extra day in Seward, we went to Denali for a few days.
The term “majestic” doesn’t do Alaska justice (neither do my photos). And thanks to our cruise ship stops, we were logging 20K steps a day (not enough to offset gorging on food all day long, but it made us feel slightly less guilty about doing so).
But to be honest, the best part was just spending time with the whole family. With Peter graduating college, Andrew bound for IU in a few weeks and Leah heading back to Scotland, there might not be many more summers when the entire family is in Cincinnati. The trip’s price tag was high, but the experience was priceless.
I took our youngest child, our baby boy, to freshman orientation at Indiana University over the past few days.
On Saturday evening, he stayed in the hotel room with me. Sunday, we had some “classes” together on campus during the morning, then the students and parents split for different sessions, reuniting at dinner. We walked around campus for a bit after that, then he went to the student-only evening festivities, and stayed in a dorm room that evening. Yesterday we attended different sessions before meeting up around noon to head home.
The campus is gorgeous. The business school is top-notch. But the most important part of the trip was Sunday evening, when we parted ways. He wound up meeting and hanging out with a kid from Philly and a kid from Chicago. They stayed up until the wee hours of the morning. Just like the college kids do.
College is about expanding your horizons. His high school was diverse, but there were no kids from Philly or Chicago there. Soon he’ll be around 9,000 fellow freshmen from all over – East Coast, West Coast, Midwest… big cities and small towns. Over the next four years, out of that batch of 9,000, he’ll meet a handful of kids that will wind up becoming his best friends for life.
In less than a month, our baby boy will be moving into a dorm room again. Only this time it won’t be for a single evening. It’ll be for days and weeks on end.
So this entire trip was a test. A test for me. To help me practice letting go.
A couple of weeks ago, our youngest child graduated from Walnut Hills High School.
For him, it’s just another mile marker on his life’s journey. But for Mrs. Dubbatrubba and me, it’s the end of an era. No more high school schedules. No more early morning wake-ups. No more emails from teachers, parking passes, homecomings and proms. He’s starting a new chapter, and we’re closing the book.
Andrew will be off to Bloomington, Indiana, in just a few short months. These past few weeks have been good practice – ever since his graduation, he’s been “gone”… working, meeting up with his friends, going out with his girlfriend, and attending a seemingly endless conga line of grad parties. He’s quite the social butterfly – and he and his friends are starting to realize that their carefree days together are limited.
Meanwhile, we’re realizing that our true parenting days are coming to an end as well. When Andrew heads to Hoosier-ville, we won’t be empty nesters just yet, but that day is on the not-too-distant horizon.
We’ll still be “consultants” but we won’t be “essential employees” like we were when our kids were younger. The shift has been tougher than I imagined.
We’ve experienced the graduation of one Rocket (Gabriel) and three Eagles (Peter, Leah and Andrew) . We want all of them to soar, but we still love them to the moon and back.
Our son Peter graduated from Ohio University a couple of weeks ago. It was a gorgeous, sunny Spring day. Fitting, because his future is bright, and he’s still growing into the person he’ll become.
Peter got cheated out of some of the college experience (thanks COVID!). But in his own quiet, unassuming way, he put in the work. Triple major. Summa cum laude.
The academic prowess is great, but five years hence, it won’t matter as much. Your friends and co-workers won’t care what your major was – they’ll care about how you treat them. Peter’s summa cum laude in that department too. Kind. Caring. Gracious. Generous. Supportive. That’s what we’re most proud of.
It’s called “commencement” because it’s the start of the next chapter. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for him.
A week ago, I was supposed to be in New York City, visiting my older sister and brother-in-law, and going to a sold-out Jesse Malin concert at Webster Hall. Jesse was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of his solo debut album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction (one of my favorite albums ever). An impressive list of guest stars were joining him on stage – Lucinda Williams (one of my all-time favorite artists), Tommy Stinson of the Replacements (another fave band of mine), Cait O’Riordan of the Pogues, Aaron Lee Tasjan (fantastic young artist), Butch Walker, Cat Popper, Adam Weiner from Low Cut Connie…
By all accounts — including this one — it was a fantastic show.
Photos above by Bob Krasner.
I didn’t make it to NYC. I saw a better show. I saw the most amazing display of love and compassion ever, as my wife attended to her mother’s every need during her mom’s last hours on earth.
My mother-in-law had been living with us since December, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. At first, she used a walker to get around, but after a second stint in the hospital in February, she was confined to a hospital bed in our living room. My wife slept on the floor next to her for weeks, so she could be there in those times of need. Feeding her. Changing her. Bathing her. Administering the meds that lessened the physical pain. Providing the love that gave her mother comfort. Holding her hand as she exited this earth.
Sorry Jesse, Lucinda, Tommy, et al. You know I love you, but my wife is the true rock star.
My friends and I aren’t spring chickens anymore. And we’re at the age where our parents are at that age… the age of getting their “celestial discharge” as my wife called it when she worked at hospice. Their earthly journey is coming to an end. As a child, it’s never easy. And unfortunately, the final chapter is often quite sad, as we watch the people who raised us diminish in body and/or mind. But never in spirit… that lives on in each of us.
My buddy Tom Kuhl (a.k.a. The Kuhler, a.k.a. Freaky Tiki) recently lost his beloved mom. His Facebook post about her really captures the conflicting emotions many of us have as our parents approach their earthly finish line.
Well said, my brother from another mother! Love you!
When my friends lose a parent, I usually pass along a copy of one of my favorite short stories by my absolute favorite author, Ray Bradbury. The story is called “The Leave-Taking” and it’s about an elderly woman who is dying. And Ray — master writer that he is — managed to weave the sadness of death and the true joy of living and the blessings of family into a mere three-and-a-half pages. The full story is here, but this is the money quote:
Important thing is not the me that’s lying here, but the me that’s sitting on the edge of the bed looking back at me, and the me that’s downstairs cooking supper, or out in the garage under the car, or in the library reading. All the new parts, they count. I’m not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family. I’ll be around a long time.
It’s raining in Cincinnati today… our house must have a leak because I’m down in our basement and my eyes are all misty.