It was Commencement today on the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. As I walked along the quiet paths of the beautiful surroundings…I heard the sounds of joyful people. I looked around to see a family and their graduating child. There, the new alumni of SIUC was in her cap and gown, posing for photographs to commemorate the special day. They were snapping photos near the fountain that is in front of The Student Services Building. As I was taking a picture of a resplendent tree, along the side of Anthony Hall, I could hear the same jubilant banter…that I enjoyed a few minutes earlier. When I looked around…the same family was on their way to take additional shots near Anthony. As I walked toward Morris Library I witnessed another, happy, family as they beamed their approval and love and pride in their graduate!
So, I was traveling toward campus woods, who do I see but my friends, the Cheek family. They had been out chronicling their mom’s wonderful accomplishment of finishing her Bachelor’s degree. They were smiling, broadly, and glowing with pride in their mom…who is an extraordinary person! I recall Elizabeth and I speaking regarding her plans to return to class and finish her degree…she is a brilliant person and now has the satisfaction of accomplishing a worthy goal! As I have heard….most of my life…education is something that no one can take from you!
Of course we are in the midst of our 2020 pandemic…SIUC was unable to have a public commencement ceremony, at this time. But it did not stop the wonderful gradating seniors of our university. It will take more than a pandemic to stop the dogged determination of people who have a vision and a clear goal and the willingness to engage in the struggle that it takes to achieve that goal!
When my step-father passed in 2001, I did not know what we were going to do. Mom had suffered with Alzheimers Disease for several years and was unable to care for herself…and especially in the country home that she and Earl had enjoyed for 30 years. MJ told me that she wanted us to take mom into our home. This is something that I would not have asked her, because I knew what a sacrifice that it would entail!
It is almost Mother’s Day. Mary Jane is the greatest mother that I have ever known. She returned to university, when she was 40 years old and earned a Master’s degree, and cared for my mom, who lived in our home and suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease! MJ lives for our sons, Aaron and Jonathon, and thinks of them and cares for them and loves them…
MJ home schooled Aaron and Jonathon in order for them to have time with me…as I had a position with SIUC that necessitated me working evenings…for many years. During those years she often made home made bread and home made pasta…and we helped by eating…faithfully! She is a woman of strength, and an inspiration to all that know her!
We had to cancel our visit to Boothbay, Maine due to the Coronavirus. Did we hang our heads in despair…no! We are planning on the end of September…and if not then…spring 2021!
We have adjusted…and we are daily continuing to adjust to the new normal of living in the midst of a pandemic…but we will not be defeated…we will not raise the white flag of surrender…we will persevere and come out of this long and dark tunnel…into the light of a new day!
I am convinced that if each of us will reach out to just one person that we know could use our help…we will feel better and our spirits will improve…and we will become addicted to the rise in endorphins and subsequently…we will be looking for people to help…to continue the euphoric feeling!