By R.L. Witter
It’s graduation season! We’ve been receiving graduation announce-ments pretty steadily for a few weeks now. From high school diplomas to advanced degrees, envelopes filled with smiling faces and official looking announcements or invitations have been filling our mailbox as a welcome change from bills and ads.
As we celebrate the accomplish-ments of our friends and loved ones, I find myself reflecting on my own edu-cation and remembering it is ongoing. Especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I continued to learn and ed-ucate myself. Not only did I read about the virus and its symptoms, I revisited a few literary classics and found new favorites to help pass the time. While I wasn’t buying plane tickets to phys-ically explore far off places and meet new people, I did those exact things through books, movies, and documen-taries. I used my browser to visit mu-seums and art exhibits I might never have visited in person. I chatted online and exchanged comments with people around the world; people I might not have approached face-to-face to dis-cuss this painting or the history of that leatherwork.
As time has passed and things have re-opened, I’m often the only person in the supermarket wearing a mask. I still prefer not to eat indoors at restau-rants, and I’m still not socializing in large groups or crowds. I miss vacation. We had a fantastic trip planned for a milestone birthday in 2020, but COVID nixed that. We were booked to cruise to Alaska for a friend’s milestone birth-day in 2021, but COVID. And honestly, I’m still not sure when I’ll feel comfort-able on a cruise ship again.
However, when I had the opportu-nity to spend time with my 85-year-old mother and 23-year-old niece for sever-al days, I decided to trust in my vaxxed and boosted status and enjoy their company while being a bit more ad-venturous. We ticked a couple of items off of Mother’s bucket list by visiting Sedona, AZ and the Grand Canyon. While I had visited both places prior to this trip, seeing them for the first time through their eyes was exciting! As much as we enjoyed seeing nature’s wonders and snapping photos, I might have actually enjoyed the car trip a lit-tle more. Having time to just talk and visit allowed me to find out new things about two people I thought I already knew pretty well. We spent hours chat-ting, laughing, and playing “car games” my husband swears no one played 40 years ago let alone today.
As I send cards of congratulations to the various graduates in my life this year, I’m also taking the opportunity to celebrate the education I received this spring by spending time with much-loved and greatly-missed family mem-bers. That time together will always be incredibly special to me and has in-spired me to expand my education by spending quality time re-reading the classics of my own friends and family and exploring new chapters and places in their lives.