The Star-News


Cross country education

Sat, Jun 02 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

We might say that this column had its start four years ago. That was the last time that I was in the Washington, D.C., area. It was in June of 2008 that I wrote of attending my granddaughter Kristin's graduation from high school.  It was a professional, well-structured ceremony that had all the conditions of a graduation.  Because of the vast numbers — well  over a thousand graduates  — the ceremony was staged at Constitution Hall in the nation’s capital.

Sometime during that period I think I made some sort of a promise, either to myself or to some other family member because the other day I attended Kristin’s graduation from Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island.  So as Yogi Berra would have put it it was déjà vu all over again.

Once more there were more than a 1,000 graduates, there was a stage full of faculty members in robes befitting their station and the school orchestra  performing the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Providence College is one of those storied, New England institutions, steeped in tradition, located in Rhode Island’s capital.  The capital building is less than a mile away, an imposing structure, rivaling in size most of the state capitals that I have visited.

I probably did not realize it at the time but in the period of half a dozen days I had traveled from one end of the continent to the other.  I mention this because in my declining years I am not particularly enamored of travel, especially by air.  But this time it was made as painless as is possible.

My grandson, Travis, had flown in from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland for the prime purpose of accompanying me to the East Coast.  So on the appointed day we were driven to Lindbergh Field, and, I, with little or no ceremony was deposited in a wheelchair and so commenced that journey that was going to culminate at BWI (Baltimore International ).

I had one day of rest at son David’s and daughter- in-law Terri’s Silver Spring home and then it was back to the wheeled transportation:  a car, not a wheel chair.

I was surprised when it took us longer to cover the 800 or so miles to Providence than the cross-country air trip.  I was told that it was about the same distance as it is from San Diego to Sacramento.  Since I had taken that trip a number of times I thought little of it. Ha!  When we go to Sacramento we pass through Los Angeles and then it is open country the rest of the way.  In our case here we had to cross New York City and that is almost like crossing a continual Los Angeles.  We did, however, have plenty of overhead signs along the way informing us what sort of delays we were going to have if we took that bridge or that tunnel.  It’s nice to know those things.

I really should not complain.  So far the visit here has been extremely pleasant.  I am treated like some sort of royalty.  This part of the country is full of so much history and lore that one hardly knows where to begin.

For one thing I can’t seem to get over the lushness and greenery of the country side.  There are trees around here, even in backyards, that would dwarf anything our county has to offer.  It is, of course, due to the rainfall.  When it rains around here it does not fool around.  I would swear that one drop would fill a teacup.

The principal reason for my trip was, of course, the graduation.  I have often written of my affinity for ceremonies with graduations just about topping the list.  And when one of the graduates is one of your own it is that much more meaningful.

As a father I was proud of the accomplishments of my kids.  As a grandfather I am equally proud of my grandkids and their accomplishments.  I will be returning home soon and I will probably think often of this trip.  When I will return to the Washington area I don’t know.  In a period of levity I told Kristin that I would be present when she is awarded her PhD.  I’ll aim for that. Hey, one never knows!


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