Monday, June 1, 2009

Family Graduation

It's that time of year and graduation is in the air. We were wonderfully surprised to get an invitation to Kyle Richmond's graduation. There has already been two blogs of this event posted by Tracy (, but here is our two cents worth.

There's absolutely nothing better than a weekend with family! And when Tracy told us we were "REALLY INVITED" to Kyle's graduation we knew we wouldn't miss it. Not only would we get to celebrate this most special of days with Kyle (well mostly with Tracy- I think Kyle might have rather spent the day fishing- rather than dressing for the ceremony)- but we'd get to spend the day with Bill et al. We were excited!

Kyle is Tracy's first born, and for those who don't know the family tree, Tracy is the first born of Bill, my Mom's first born. OK, so Tracy is my niece and Kyle my grand nephew. We didn't see much of Kyle while he was growing up, (he did go with us- and several of our children- and Mom and Dad- to New Mexico to see Bill and Ellen one summer about 12 or so years ago- Kyle was so little- but he was a real hiker- he and Matthew and Don and I hiked the trails around Bill's beautiful New Mexico home-the wild flower pictures from that trip live on our bedroom walls- And there is a picture hanging in the front room of the beauty- and Kyle and I are little specks in the trees- great pic- lots of people comment.) Or for that matter we didn't get to see much of Tracy either. Her marriage took her to a number of different states where Rob, her ex-husband worked for Lowes. Given that she is now settled in Springdale, Arkansas and Rob is off in Alaska to yet another Lowes, we decided it was a great time to renew the relationship and bring Tracy and her family closer to ours.

So Max and I headed south to Arkansas for the Memorial Day weekend and Kyles graduation. It's 700 miles from our house to Tracy's so we left on a Friday when Max got home from work and drove to the middle of Missouri, spent the night at "America's Best Inn" in Rolla, Missouri. Trust me, the name greatly exceeded the the motel itself, but given that it was cheap, and we were only there about 9 hours, it served its purpose. The only thing I can say nice is that it didn't smell too bad- not sure they can use that in an advertisement...

The next morning we got to Tracy's just before noon and met Elaine, Tracy's mom and my brother Bill who were already there. Bill brought some house guests with him, Slick and Denise who are long time acquaintances of his from the UK. Bill was fairly adamant about eating lunch at AQ Chicken House (, one of his favorite dining experiences in Arkansas (how many can there be?). I am sorry we didn't get pictures of the place, but we left in such a hurry that I didn't even think to bring a camera. This place is famous for chicken fixed any way you want it unless you are thinking of something healthy. A speciality is breaded and fried chicken livers served with dipping gravy. I do want to add that they had WONDERFUL fried chicken livers- I loved them- What a treat! Just looking at it made me want to go back and take another Plavix and a couple more Lipitor. They even had breaded and fried French Fries.

After lunch was the graduation ceremony held in the U. of Arkansas field house. There were only 400+ graduates so the ceremony didn't take too long. I think the highlight of the ceremony was the commencement speech given to the graduates. Usually this is something along the lines of: The door is now open for you to succeed, or Set your sites on high goals because you can achieve them, or Your high school education is your first step toward higher education. But this speaker was a local car salesman that never went to college. His message was that a person could succeed in life by going to work after high school and washing cars and sweeping up cigarette butts, and if you worked real hard at it, you might someday be as successful as he had been in the 10 years since his high school graduation. With 7 kids we are something of an expert on graduation speeches- and we really only remember the bad ones. And Matthew- if you're out there reading this- the speech that hot afternoon at Muskingam is still the worst I've heard- It will take a lot to top that one! Long- Boring- Long- Boring-Hot- And the guy even restarted when he was stopped for the paramedics to remove the lady who passed out- Long- Boring (Did I say Long- Boring)- the worst.

Our seating was not very close, and so we really didn't get many pictures of Kyle. Tracy has already posted some in his cap and gown on her blog. Here is Kyle getting his tassel moved from the right side to the left and the now graduated Kyle walking by us.

They also had a camera which projected to the overhead scoreboard above the field house. Unfortunately, they didn't really think that some graduates might be taller than others, so we only saw part of Kyle move by as his head was cut off from the picture

Of course the mother of this graduate alternated between the joy of a first born graduating and a few tears because of a first born graduating.

After graduation we all went back to Tracy's house for libation and dinner. Tracy absolutely waited on us- talk about pampered- Wow- And she made the best Beef Strogonoff (Grandma's recipe- and Grandma would be proud.) Bill and Elaine were both there along with Tracy's two younger girls, Katie and Jesse. We didn't get to see Becca, Tracy's daughter that came with Rob although we did meet her at Mom's funeral last October, but we did get to finally meet Bobby, Becca's brother. So now we are almost caught up with Tracy's family. It's about time.

Jesse and Elaine

Probably the most interesting event of the evening happened later in the evening after the girls had gone out, Bill and friends had left, Kyle was at a graduation party, and we were left with Elaine and Tracy. Now Tracy has two dogs, an enormous Mastiff and a Basset named Beullar. Beullar seemed to be having some itching problems on his back side, and Elaine quickly diagnosed it as "anal gland" problems. But not to worry, because Elaine was well experienced with these types of problems and could quickly relieve Beullar's itch if only she could find some latex gloves. Tracy quickly provide the gloves and Elaine explained my role in this effort. I believe my response (as Max captured below) was: "you want me to do what? so you can do what?"

The "treatment" involved not only the gloves, but also picking Beullar up so he was in the sink (my job), apparently to isolate the offending expressed anal gland material, and finally some butter. Elaine, using the butter for obvious lubrication (anyone see Last Tango in Paris?) quickly performed her canine proctology technique only to reveal that Beullar probably was just itching. Thank goodness for sparing us the cure, but poor Beullar did suffer a somewhat mortifying and humiliating procedure.

I believe after that experience we all decided to call it a night. If you listen real close you can still hear me screaming with laughter!

I will mention here that in contrast to the "Best" in Rolla we stayed at a Doubletree- and it really is the "BEST"- everything you want- great bed- marvelous linens- and a warm cookie.

It was great to see Tracy and reconnect with her kids. Families are too valuable to waste.But mostly I want to thank Tracy for a wonderful, wonderful time! She is an absolutely marvelous hostess- And we had an absolutely marvelous time! Thank you Tracy!


Amber said...

it sounds like you had a great trip! and ps thanks for return to the blog-o-sphere!

Nurse Horrible said...

I wish I could have been there! And, yes, I do now remember that graduation speech (I had purposefully forgotten it for obvious reasons).

It's too bad Elaine was in NYC nine months ago to help Gigi prevent having such a hard time with her anal glands. At least now I know who to talk to!

T-Bird said...

yes my mother can get up to all kinds of tricks after dark! I've still got more bogging to do about the weekend, as soon as things calm down here a little, but I just loved having you and I can't wait to see you again in Oct, and of course Mary and Kevin and the kids. Love you guys!

Beyond The Strip said...

Looks like a great celebration! Poor pup, that'll teach him to scratch his behind!

Anonymous said...

This was a side of the story with far more detalis than I had hear before! I love the dog and anal gland part. That is so much like my mom..... I love her! Wish I had been there!