The Problem with Passports

Bob and I gazed intently into each other’s eyes. “What color are my eyes?” he asked.

“I’m not sure, what color are mine?” I replied.

“I’m not sure either, but I’m renewing our passports and the Department of State wants to know.

We’ve been married 46 years, and looked into each other’s eyes so many times, yet I still have trouble discerning what color they are. Thankfully, he has the same problem. We have trouble distinguishing between hues.  

Surprise, surprise – the United States government has gotten pickier. The forms are longer and require more information. Things have changed since we renewed our passports ten years ago.

Uncle Sam now wants us to tell him what color our eyes and hair are. Isn’t that covered with our pictures? I wonder if someone at customs will even look that closely at our eyes. “Sorry, sir, you cannot enter our country because you claim to have green eyes and they are clearly blue with a greenish tint.”

Bob and I have that color eyes that seems to change from greenish to blueish depending on what we’re wearing. I’ve always claimed to have green eyes, but some people have commented on my blue eyes. It’s very confusing, but we knew it was our civic duty to finally lay to rest the eye color question. I wish you could have seen us getting in good light, naked, so as not to affect eye color change. On second thought, maybe not.

Next, it was time to figure out what color hair we have. Bob was easy – gray. As usual, I was more complicated. Typically I don’t think a flip about my hair color, as long as I can cover up the gray. There was not a choice of light brown or dark blonde or mostly blonde with gray roots. I decided to go with blonde – I hope they’re okay with that. (It’s quite the challenging form to fill out.)

Plus, as far as hair goes, it does. It goes for some guys, and it gets colored. Does this mean that I have to keep my appearance the same as my passport photo? If only! The last decade has resulted in some subtle changes in my appearance. I don’t think it’s going to get any better moving forward.

To further vex me, my beloved Costco no longer has a photo department where we can get inexpensive photos to send along to Uncle Sam during our weekly visits there. We were forced to use Walgreens like regular people.

The picture taking was disturbing, too. We decided to get ours done on the way to a dinner date. That way I would have fixed my hair, put on a little make-up and jewelry, and basically not look like I do every other day. Except that day I was suffering from dry eye syndrome and couldn’t wear eye make-up. That’s okay (I thought), I’ll put on some foundation, eyebrows, and lips. I’ll have jewelry on to give me some color and I wear glasses. As for Bob, he took a shower and combed his hair. Life is so much simpler for him!

At Walgreens, things took a bit of a turn. For the photos you are not allowed to wear jewelry or glasses, and you must put your hair behind your ears. Then, as before, they zoom in for a close-up that shows every open pour on your nose and all the new wrinkles you try not to think about, and there you go! Voila! A picture that haunts you because it’s going to be your identifier for the next ten years.

What have I learned through all of this? I am much more vain than I realized. I’ll do what it takes to be able to travel. None of this really matters. And Bob’s and my eyes are definitely green.

Extra credit: Can you distinguish between these Hughs?

Photo credit: depositphotos.com
Photo credit: depositphotos.com
Photo Credit: pngkey.com

Looking for a Bright Spot

This post is especially for my local (Altamonte Springs/Orlando) friends, but hopefully the rest of you will enjoy it, too.

How I wish I could go through one day, 24 little hours, without thinking about the dreaded C word. It hangs in the air like the heat of an August day in Florida – 94 degrees as I type this. And that doesn’t account for the humidity. I try not to complain about the heat, but I tell you, it’s stifling down here in the South right now. I have to take a bottle of water with me to walk to the mailbox.

I’m constantly on the lookout for a bright spot in my day – other than the blinding sun, which I am thankful for, but can’t safely look at! It’s a good habit to keep our eyes open to see something good, something beautiful, something admirable. And then think about those things. There is a lot to be thankful for – simple things especially that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Sometime last year, our favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant, Amigos, closed their doors. I’m not sure why. They were a family-owned business and a fixture in Altamonte Springs for 32 years. Whatever the reason, many in our community mourned this loss, especially in such a time as this, when nothing is quite normal. They had an outdoor eating area and take-out, too. Thursday night enchilada special for six bucks! You can’t beat that!

Amigos!

I was afraid I might have to break down and fix Mexican food at home or go to Taco Bell; but don’t worry, it didn’t get that bad. Every restaurant and their brother makes tacos nowadays. But they aren’t Tex-Mex. And they aren’t served by people you’ve come to recognize who also recognize you.

Back to the keep your eyes open for a bright spot thing. On the Nextdoor app people were chatting about a new family-owned Mexican restaurant right around the corner from our beloved Amigos (may it rest in peace). Bob and I checked it out last night.

Welcome to Cancun Fiesta! This Mexican restaurant is in a former Turkish restaurant. The outside may have a bit of a Turkish feel, but that’s where it ends.

Turkish food isn’t our thing, so we had only driven by prior to last night.

When we set foot inside – fiesta time! I was overwhelmed by color. Seriously, it made you stop in your tracks.

A bit of an eye-catching wall!

We enjoyed watching others take it all in as they entered, too. And Bob let me take this goofy picture of him. He even slid down in the booth, placing himself perfectly in front of a skeleton so that I could get this picture. And that’s without even trying one of their margaritas! (He puts up with a lot!)

As a bonus, the food was good, and I even recognized one of the servers from Amigos. Everyone was enjoying the ambience and the fajitas were great. That was a close one. I almost had to give in and cook fajitas at home! Gracias, Dios!

Guests had not been seated yet in the back dining room. The front one was fairly busy.

Things That Go Crash at 6:59 in the Morning

My hubby retired on July 2. He continues to do contract work for his former company but only every other Tuesday. What are the odds that today, the other Tuesday, would be the day when he goes happily off to the office and is out of the house when there is a loud crash signaling trouble right here in River City? I’d ask him to compute them, but he’s at work; so I’ll give it a try. If higher math is not your thing, skip the italicized portion and you can keep on reading the story.

(He goes into the office two days out of four weeks. That is 2 out of 28. (Here’s the point where I wonder how in the world to write that problem.) I think I just divide 2 by 28 and get my answer, which is 0.07142857. That doesn’t look right to me. How about 28 divided by 2. I can practically do that in my head! But I do seem to remember that odds are written as ratios and ratios have two numbers in them so I’m fairly certain the odds are that I have not figured this out at all. But wait, I can reduce 2 and 28 down to 1 and 14, so I think the odds are 1 out of 14 (1:14) that a crash would be heard or anything in the house would break one of the days he goes to the office.)

At this point I should remind you that Bob is the morning person in our marriage. He wakes up ready for the day. I get up typically around 8:00, and after an hour or two and a couple cups of coffee I am ready for the day. I should also insert that I have not been sleeping super duper lately due to a new medicine that I’m taking, or I should say just quit taking, so last night I took a melatonin. Melatonin helps me sleep but makes waking up more challenging for me.

This morning I vaguely remember Bob saying goodbye to me as I succumbed to my melatonin-addled sleep hangover. I do remember hearing a crash, though. At least I was pretty sure I heard it. It seemed like something I should even get out of bed and investigate. I looked at the clock – 6:59. It was probably nothing.

Surprisingly, some responsible adult part of me would not let me go back to sleep, so at 7:13 I rolled over, picked up my phone, and called Bob. He hadn’t heard a thing and by that time he was halfway to the office, but he offered that it may have been a passing truck. I didn’t think so, but I was tired, and whatever I heard had not affected our air conditioning, so what was my hurry! If someone was knocking our doors down to get in, I’d have known that by then. Still, it felt like I wasn’t being a good adult, so at 7:52, I finally stumbled out to the garage and sure enough, the door was open just enough for racoons, snakes, alligators, stray cats and children to get in.

I didn’t see this big fellow in my yard, but thought you’d like this picture I recently took on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

I reported back to Bob that I was in my right mind and not hearing things. He seemed to believe that at least one of those things was true.

We live in Florida. It isn’t a good idea to give wildlife a way inside. I found a snake skin on top of a ladder in my garage one time. Once is enough.

I applied all my button pressing skills to the garage door opener and sure enough, it was not going to close. It would go up all the way and then come crashing down and reopen like the above photo. That seemed like a good excuse to stay home all day until my friend from Tulsa called me and asked me to run an errand for her. Yes, we have that kind of friendship. Once again, what are the odds that the very day she would call, I could not leave my home? Before she got too far into her story, I stopped her and told her I was being held captive by a broken garage door. This did not surprise her.

What is the moral of this story? What the lessons can be learned here? I’d say none, but I may still be under the influence of melatonin.

I Will Trust Him

I spent a couple hours standing in the Gulf of Mexico today. It was cathartic. I turn my back on the shore and just take in the beauty, all the while hoping to see a dolphin. Sometimes I do but not today.

Today I looked upon the emerald green waters through a different lens. It was the lens of sorrow. I’m not sure why God always seems more present to me when I’m at the beach, but he does. Today we spent a lot of time together. A lot of people I love are suffering and I kept bringing their names to my Heavenly Father. I was acutely aware of how little we control and how much we need him.

In the midst of all that, I glance back at my husband sitting in his beach chair reading. We’re away celebrating our anniversary. He comes out with me for a while. I tell him about the family from Iowa that I just met and how they’ve never seen a live sand dollar, only broken pieces on the shore. He swims out to the sandbar where we often find a bed of them. Once he’s there, I join him.

The sandbar is huge. It’s really not that far to swim to it. The water is over my head for a while, but the gulf is gentler than the Atlantic, so I can do it. I just don’t do it alone. I’m more cautious than I used to be. And I keep thinking about our friends. It’s a weird day.

We search and search but don’t find a single sand dollar. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I’ll see dolphins, too. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a good report about some of the friends we’re praying for.

For now, though, I’m taking in the life around me. A family of three generations is playing monkey in the middle. They’re having a blast. Their laughter warms my heart. Two teenagers from Chicago ask me about the sandbar and I tell them about our search for sand dollars. They’ve never heard of them. Have you ever tried to describe a sand dollar to someone? It’s tough to do, but even from our poor effort, they’re fascinated by the fact that there is so much life right by them in the water.

I’m fascinated too. That’s one of the strange things about suffering or standing with someone who is suffering. There is so much life that keeps on going. It’s like you’re in two worlds at the same time. One normal like the tides coming in and going out. And one beyond description where nothing is right and the water is stagnant and you’re wondering if a wave is going to knock you down.

Then I look out into the sea once again. It’s vast and glorious. The clouds are magnificent. A cormorant flies by and perches on a pole. Laughter rises above the gentle sound of the waves. I paraphrase Psalm 121:1,2:

I lift my eyes to the sea (hills). From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

I am thankful that I know Jesus. I know the maker of heaven and earth. That’s how I can get through the sadness and still have joy. I hope you know him, too. If not, call on him. He is always there.

Touché, Olympics

The sounds of the Olympics have been background music in our house since the opening ceremony. The chant, “Go, USA,” is heard every night. We love our athletes. We also love learning about the athletes, some of whom have overcome so much to compete. Being a certified non-athlete, I don’t truly understand what goes on in a person’s brain that has them putting it all on the line for a personal best or a medal. I mean, I’m very competitive, but I’ve never pushed through playing Scrabble while nursing a splinter in my eye or a broken finger or even a mild headache.

I also have never had a personal coach invest time and energy in my pursuit of excellence at pinochle or our latest board game craze, Azul Summer Pavilion. If I did have a coach and by some miracle I actually won a competition on any level, I hope he would go crazy with enthusiasm like Dean Boxall did when Ariarne Titmus won the women’s 400m freestyle, dethroning USA star and one of my personal favorites of this Olympics, Katie Ledecky. Even though he nearly scared this unfortunately placed young woman out of her mind with his near psychotic celebration, I have to say, this is one of my very favorite Olympic moments, which is something that this young woman and I likely do not have in common. My hat is off to her – I don’t know if I would have been able to keep my composure like she did. She deserves a medal.

Have you noticed that these sports are really a slice of summer life, albeit on a different scale? A lot of these same events take place in our own yards or communities. Of course, we never had cameras broadcasting pick-up basketball games in the driveway, badminton or volleyball in the backyard, bike riding, swimming and diving in the pool, boxing matches among our kids, a canoe ride down the Wekiva River, or the church softball league, but I do have some treasured photos of all of these activities. I even practiced archery in my backyard as a kid.

Just another boxing match between a couple of my kids many years ago.

My granddaughter rides horses, my grandsons play football. There are several golfers in the family. My sister practiced gymnastics in our living room constantly when we were kids. Bob wrestled in high school. My daughter-in-law went to college on a volleyball scholarship. Another daughter-in-law is an excellent tennis player. Table tennis – bring it on.

All of these sports make up our life in some fashion. They all make sense to me. Except for fencing. Even Taekwondo, Judo, and Karate have their place for fitness and self-defense. They could come in handy. Shooting – I get that. But fencing simply doesn’t play into everyday life. For instance, someone approaches you when you make the poor choice of walking alone in a dark alley. A judo chop or karate throw would deter them. But where am I going to hide my sword? Can I get that through TSA when traveling? Are there retractable ones available? Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi!

I see tennis courts all over the place, but where can I go to have a bout of fencing? I don’t think I could retally stab somebody. I’d more likely pull a hammy in the process and leave myself even more vulnerable. I don’t want to be touched, that’s for sure; but I would love to say, “foiled again,” while holding a sword. With my athletic prowess, I think I should stick with Wii Sports Resort. I’d say the only part of me that could be injured there would be my pride, but in a recent bowling game with my six-year-old grandson, I think I pulled a muscle. (Please don’t tell him.)

Youngest grandson sticks the landing in the toddler climbing event.

I’m So Embarrassed

As I told you in my last post, June was a big month for us. Bob retired and we did some traveling. Looking back on that post, I realized there was more to tell than our effort to have steamed crabs for dinner. In hindsight it seemed wrong that I didn’t mention how proud I was of Bob as I attended his retirement luncheon. (I was extremely proud.) The words “workhorse” and “finisher” were among the many accolades he received.

It also seemed wrong that I didn’t focus on our family being together for the first time in years. We witnessed our youngest grandson seeing the grandeur of the ocean for the first time and take those first tentative steps into the water. Our eight grandchildren totally enjoyed their cousin time, and our kids and kids-in-law were reunited over approximately 300 games. Yes, we are gamers, and yes, I tend to exaggerate. We only brought 30 games (and all but about 2 were played).

I also didn’t tell you about our trip to Stanardsville, Virginia, Williamsburg or Monticello, but there’s time for that later. By now you understand the power steamed crabs has over me. It’s a little embarrassing that they were the first thing I wrote about. In all fairness, though, they were really good, and we hadn’t polished off a table full of crabs in a coon’s age! Even now, a month after we got out the mallets and crab crackers, I can still close my eyes and smell Old Bay Seasoning. (I may need to talk to my doctor about that.)

Oops, there I go again. Back to the family – there were 18 of us gathered in Hilton Head. Our 8 grandchildren range from 2.5 to 18 years old. The power of family was on full display as these kids embraced each other. There is something special about cousins. Even with this wide range of ages, the interactions were sweet (and noisy). Watching the older cousins care for and play with the younger was a gift to me. How I wish we all lived close to each other! But how thankful I am that we can be together despite distance.

They are all pretty cute and amazing, so I’ve included a few pictures of them. Trust me, I could have really bogged down this post with pictures, but I want you to keep reading.

The Beach from crazy to serene

Being a mom to Bob’s and my four kids has been the joy of my life. When grandchildren were added, my cup literally ran over with happiness. One thing I have really missed since we all haven’t lived in the same locale, is having an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids. My mom started doing those backyard hunts when my kids were young, and I have taken up the mantle, though sporadically now. When there are only two local grandkids and they’re both teenagers, a bit of the thrill of the hunt is missing. My two youngest grandkids had never participated in the hunt! I saw my opportunity for our June gathering. As Christians, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ every day, so why not do an egg hunt in June.

Who remembers The Unknown Comic from The Gong Show? I present, the Unknown Egg Hunters.

I have kept the plastic eggs over the years and had over a hundred of them. Even with the help of our kids and their spouses, it took a little while to hide them all. But at last, we lined up the grands and the hunt began. We released them by age to even the playing field. That Anderson competitive blood flows through their veins and they were off. Eggs and children were everywhere. At the end of the hunt, prizes were chosen.

We also did a jigsaw puzzle competition. Ella (our second grandchild) is a huge fan of Marvel, as am I. When I came across 48-piece puzzles in a tin with Marvel superheroes gracing the front, I made it my business to find 6 of them. It took four different stops to realize my goal, but I did it.

Our eldest grandson, Manning, and his mom came in first place

I am relatively sure I was much more excited about these puzzles and the whole competition to complete them than anyone else. Did they not realize that each puzzle came with an infinity stone? The older six grandchildren each chose an adult to team with them and the games began. When Layna (the youngest competitor) chose Bob, I felt like they were a shoo-in. Honestly, when it comes to puzzles, he is a ringer. But I hadn’t counted on them getting The Incredible Hulk, which is mostly a mass of green. At least they didn’t get angry when they came in last.

Jett enjoys finishing before Bob (Bumpa)

Games and puzzles and walks on the beach with our tribe are tucked away in my memory. I smile when I think of this group of people whom I love more than I can describe. I’m thankful that God made families and thankful that he gave us each one of ours.

Hilton Head sunset

Home – What a Beautiful Word

They say you can’t go home again. I don’t know who they are or why they don’t want me to go home. They aren’t the boss of me!

I was born and raised in Maryland. The two houses I lived in are still there, and when I drive past them I know in my head they aren’t my home. But my heart still keeps a piece of them. The first house is occupied by a lovely woman who let us go in and look around during a trip a dozen years ago. This house was probably built in the 1930s. I lived there until I was five, but since my grandparents lived across the street from it, I remember it well – at least the outside.

Bob and I moved to Florida in 1976, and it definitely is home. I can’t think of another place where I would rather live, but there are a few things that tug at me when it comes to Maryland – or should I say bite at my toes, get under my fingernails, and make me reach for a mallet. And those things are connected with summer, so when Bob and I decided to take a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to celebrate his retirement with our entire clan, it was only natural that I asked if he and I could pop up to the Maryland area for dinner on our way home. After all, we were halfway there!

Bob was game! What better way to both celebrate his retirement and get some rest, after a week of 18 of us together in the same house, than a road trip for a steamed crab feast. (Side note: if you’ve followed me for a while, you may know that I am directionally challenged. True, I will make a face if you tell me to go east toward a destination when you could have simply said – turn right! And, I am aware that Maryland and Virginia are not on the way home to Florida, but sometimes one simply must take the scenic route if only for gastronomic reasons.)

After nine hours on the road, we landed in Williamsburg, Virginia. Again, I know this is not Maryland, but this destination seemed close enough to our longed-for crab feast. When I was a kid, blue crabs were easy to come by. We were confident we would have no trouble locating some. We were wrong.

Suddenly, I was lamenting choosing Virginia over tried-and-true Maryland. Maryland had never let me down in the crab department. I kept seeing “Virginia is For Lovers” signs, and just scoffed at them. I am a steamed-crab lover. Where were they, Virginia? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And, yes, Virginia, you have some powerful historic sites and beautiful mountains and beaches. Yes, Virginia, Chincoteague Island was interesting as are the wild ponies who live there. But, where are the crabs?

Chincoteague Island was on my bucket list. It’s part of the Virginia Eastern Shore, which is just south (catch that) of the Maryland Eastern Shore. There should have been crabs for sale everywhere. The Chesapeake Bay is right there! We went over it, under it, and around it, thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. But there were no streets lined with crabs – no signs pointing to crabs. It was heartbreaking.

Thankfully, Virginia, you did have internet service, and that’s how we found Edwards Seafood in Onley, Virginia. Onley was the only place we found the illusive steamed blue crabs. Well, I did find a crazy restaurant that said we could get 3 for $18. I was almost desperate enough to do it, too, but the woman on the other end of the phone had an accent that didn’t sound like their crabs were going to be steamed with Old Bay seasoning. Yeah, she quickly answered me when I asked, “Yes, we have Old Bay. Yes, we cook them just like you like them – 3 for $18.” Something seemed fishy, so we kept looking.

We pulled up to Edwards Seafood just ten minutes before they closed. It wasn’t a restaurant – it was a seafood market. They knew how to steam crabs though, and soon we were headed back to Williamsburg with a dozen and a half of those delectable, messy crustaceans with their familiar Old Bay fragrance wafting through our car. By that time, if you added it all up, we had traveled approximately 13 hours over 2 days for our dinner. Worth it!

For the next couple of hours we picked crabs, drank diet coke, and made a huge mess of the condo we were staying in. Crab picking is far from tidy work. We spread plastic trash bags over the table and moved the trash can to within reach. It was sublime. At that moment, the worlds of “home” collided. We had Maryland-style steamed crabs, even if we were in Virginia. We had just spent a week with all our kids and grandkids. We stood on the balcony and watched as the fireflies played at dusk. Memories of my childhood intersected with the joy of having spent a week with our family. Soon we would return to Florida, but at that moment I had my husband there with me and we clinked our crabs together in a toast to the past, present, and future.

We exchanged idioms about home, including the ever famous, “Home is where you hang your hat.” True, I reminded Bob, but you know I don’t wear many hats because I have a ginormous head and those hats I wear I don’t hang. I think home is where you hang your heart.”

My heart has been hanging right next to this guy for going on 46 years. Happy Retirement, Bob! Where shall we go to dinner next?

Snakes Alive!

We haven’t had rain in six weeks, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when the black racer which I was trying to chase off my pool deck with a gentle spray from my hose seemed to welcome the shower. This is the second snake in a week we’ve had stop in for a visit.

I’ve been wanting to lead a more active lifestyle, but snake wrangling was not what I had in mind. More along my speed is my offer of assistance to a momma cardinal who is nesting just outside of our pool deck. I have chased snakes away from the area, and water and stocked birdfeeders are always in our yard. This is the first time in my life I have been up close and personal with a nest; and I am rather protective, which is why I propped open the rear door of the screen enclosure to usher the aforementioned black racer to an area away from the “nursery.”

I started out referring to the snake as “he” (probably because our last four pets were males), but I’m beginning to have my doubts. She seemed reluctant to leave, so I was forced to get the broom and gently offer two incentives for departure. It was ridiculous how much resistance I got from her! It was an effort to get her past each panel of screening. Several times she coiled up and did her best impression of a cobra.

I was not deterred. I was also full-on aerobic by the time the thoughts crept into my head as to why on earth wouldn’t she want to be out of the pool screen area as much as I wanted her out! I guessed she was stubborn or stupid.

Fifteen long minutes later, she finally exited. I watched her slither along the edge of the outside of the pool screen as I reached out and closed the door behind her. She stayed right up against it all the way to the corner, made a quick right turn, continued along the screen to the back of the house, and reentered the pool enclosure.

What the what! I was sweaty and tired. She just seemed to be getting started. There was no way that I was going to play this game! And that was the point when it hit me that I might be dealing with a female. Maybe even a mama. That was also the point where I decided that Bob should meet her.

The good news here is that we had discovered the entry point. Even better, it was on the opposite side of the house from my precious cardinal nest. But of concern was the fact that she had almost disappeared in our bed of river rocks. At first, I could barely see her; then she disappeared altogether. I knew she was there though, but why was she there? Why wouldn’t she want to be outside? Was she protecting something? Should I keep her in the pool deck to protect the cardinal eggs?

The answers to these questions are:

  • I don’t know.
  • I don’t know.
  • I don’t know.
  • Bob will think I lost my mind.

Of course, by the time Bob returned from work she was nowhere to be seen. There are lots of awesome hiding places for a snake on our pool deck. Bob checked them all and then he blocked the entry point that she used to get back in. Hopefully, she’s not trapped inside now. If she is just good at hiding, she has to come out sometime! Worst case scenario, I’ll know in 43-65 days if what she’s hiding is a nest of snake eggs.

Living in Florida has changed me. There was a time when I would have moved rather than defend my home against a snake or kill a palmetto bug or get close to a frog. Well, I still have to grow into that frog thing. I know it seems unlikely, but they really do act like they are out to get me.

As far as that snake goes, I don’t think she’s out there. Really, I don’t. Nope, she’s not there. I’m sure of it.

Graduation

There comes a time in every kid’s life when their parents embarrass them. (Many times would be more accurate.) But there are also times when that kid is ready for it, craving it, even welcoming hearing their name shouted by those who love them. Graduations are at the top of those occasions.

Mia

There was a discussion as to how our family would respond when our granddaughter Mia crossed the stage to receive her high school diploma. Would we whoop and holler? Might that embarrass her; was that our goal? Would there be instructions to save applause until after the last graduate? Would we follow those instructions? (Absolutely not!)

Mia’s was 33rd from the last name called on that sunny May morning. Having been an Anderson for over 45 years, I’ve grown accustomed to having our names called early, but our daughter Dena married a man that took her to the back of the alphabet. Talk about adjustments!

The “A” part of the alphabet was almost complete when the man in front of me jumped up and cheered. That sure looked like a proud papa! I patted him on the shoulder and congratulated him. Then I joked, “Are you going to duck out now?”

“Nope,” he replied. “That’s not my kid. I was just helping the couple in front of me.”

I didn’t even hear the couple in front of him.

Somewhere in the “J’s” he again cheered loudly. The lady and her son to our right gave a nice round of applause at the same time.

I asked, “Is that one yours?”

“Nope. Just adding support,” he said as he looked to my right.

“Who is yours?”

“Mine is Jenna in the “M” section. And I’m not her dad. I’m her uncle. I’ve been to all my nieces’ and nephews’ graduations.”

His sister looked at us and smiled. I’m not sure if she was prouder of Jenna or of her brother, who by now had a following of his own.

Jenna’s uncle

We joined them in shouting for Jenna M, and Jenna’s uncle helped us in our celebration as Mia crossed the stage. Mia heard us and there was no embarrassment, just a feeling of being loved and supported.

There was such a sense of community, mutual support, and hope as we sat on those bleachers watching the next generation. I am confident that Mia has a bright future in store for her with a lot of surprises along the way. She trusts in God, and that is the best way to walk into her future. We are so proud of her!

Bob and I with Mia – May 29, 2021

Generation Consternation

The labeling of generations has taken an ugly turn. I’ll admit to shaking my head at this one. It’s just plain wrong. What could be sadder or more confusing than the term: geriatric millennial.

For the record, I am comfortable with these two generational names:

The Greatest Generation

Baby Boomers

I think dubbing the post-WWII/Great Depression era folks The Greatest Generation is well-deserved. These people fought for our freedoms against unimaginable evils and made it through the darkest economic time imaginable. It’s a generation of heroes. And that generation of heroes celebrated a lot, which led to the baby boom.

I am a baby boomer. I don’t mind it if someone says, “Ok, boomer.” Yes, I know it’s mocking, but no, I don’t care. That’s one of the great things about getting older!

Generations X, Y, and Z confuse me. Especially Gen Y, who are also called Millennials. Why does Gen Y have two names? What name will be given for the generation after Gen Z?

I’m sure my questions have answers, but I don’t care to discover them. My focus today is on the newly named sub-group of Millennials – “Geriatric Millennials.” I learned about this on the local morning news. The anchors were flummoxed at why this name would be used. After much semi-thorough research, I have learned the following: This group is a microgeneration born in the early 80s. They have experienced both analog and digital forms of communication. (On another note, they seem to like microbreweries, but that may be a cross-generational thing. I digress.)

Should this anomaly warrant such an insulting moniker? My study group of people this age don’t like being called Millennials. Assuming they know what the word means, they must be rolling their eyes! Geriatric refers to old people, especially regarding healthcare or living arrangements. There is an entire specialty of medicine with this name. It is for older adults – adults who don’t particularly like the word elderly, pretty much hate being labeled geriatric, and still don’t know what a Millennial is.

Geriatrics starts around 65 for some, but for most the age is closer to 80. Do geriatric millennials know this? Do they care? Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?

Maybe they are the same people who are taking fashion to a new low at Target?

Thank goodness it’s only available for a limited time!

Note: Research study groups referred to in this post are largely exaggerated and manipulated to fit my personal views. Except for the Target fashions. Nobody should contest that finding.