Tag Archives: Heart-to-Heart

A Different Sort of Journey

I had planned to post one of our recent Vieques adventures today, but my sweet fireball of a grandma, Mary Dugan, passed away last night.  Kind of appropriate that she died on Thanksgiving, don’t you think?  She was, and will always be, a huge blessing in my life.  In honor of her life, I’m rerunning “Milestone 95” (below).  On Monday:  Another adventure from our recent time on Isla de Vieques (wild chickens, a floundering ferry boat, a bioluminescent bay… ?)

Originally posted on July 5, 2010

Milestone 95

On many days she dwells in the memories gathered in crossing ninety-five years. Her journey, begun in 1915, has been richer in people and experiences than in geographic destinations, but travel is travel, whether in distance or time.

A matriarch like no other, my Grandma Dugan also holds a bit of the little girl named Mary within her, making her a completely fascinating and compelling presence in my life. She snoozed through a recent visit having overexerted herself moments before making a break for some enticing flower beds beyond the safe edges of the care center’s outdoor patio. I love that she still finds satisfying a curiosity worth the considerable effort of propelling her wheelchair down a sidewalk.

Her smiles made me smile at her birthday party this past week. In her usual fashion, she flitted about the room greeting her guests, exclaiming at the purple decorations and enjoying all the special attention. When presented with the first slice of birthday cake she insisted I share it with her, bite for bite, enjoying it all the more for having divvied it with me.

Milestones. They encapsulate our memories and plant them in a place we can revisit at will. This year we have celebrated my oldest son’s high school graduation and the life of my Grandma Prior after her passing at age ninety-two. On June 30th we were privileged to honor the passing of but another year for Grandma Dugan. Ninety-five years and still counting…


“Favorite Memory, Favorite Gift”

“Traveling the ‘Mental Miles”

“Tis the Season…”

“Care Center Carols”

“Caroling at the Care Center”


Bigger Than a Campus

Cathedral Rock trail; Sedona, AZ

I had a great conversation with my son Zach the other night.  While I’m still adjusting to the fact that I have to do that over the phone now, he remains one of my favorite people with whom to talk and philosophize.  The University of Cincinnati is lucky to have him.

He and I spent a week in Arizona last spring as part of his college search.  Scottsdale, Sedona, Flagstaff, Page and the Grand Canyon…  I like to call that trip “the little college visit that grew”.

Cathedral Rock; Sedona AZ

There was a lot of strenuous hiking in changeable weather.  Kind of a perfect life transition trip, actually.  The opportunities for connection may change as our children morph into teens and then young adults, but they remain to be found and relished on all available terms.

Towards the end of our conversation, we remembered some of our hikes and discussed when I might be able to visit him on campus. I joked that we should start thinking about grad school visits, hoping that Arizona won’t prove to be our last adventure together. He laughed with me and mentioned a couple of countries that are on my travel list.  I didn’t say “no”.

I think he knows that, while the destination and purpose provide context, whether on a trail or through academia, the journey itself truly is the joy.

More photos and adventures from Arizona (as well as Isla de Vieques underwater videos, central Ohio bike riding and Yosemite National Park hikes) are in queue…

Trail Around Horn Pond

Sharing one’s regular haunts with a visiting friend is, for me, on par with cooking them your favorite meal.  A peek at the ordinary in a friend’s life can be even more meaningful than hitting all the tourist high points because not only time is shared… the details of daily life are being shared as well.

My cousin Laura took me around her Horn Pond walking loop when I visited her last spring in Winchester, Massachusetts.  The cool spring rain dampened everything (including us) and enhanced the stark beauty of the naked woods.  We walked and talked as cousins and friends do, winding around the shoreline, not really minding the occasional drips.  She held my umbrella when I needed both hands for a camera shot. We caught up at the more important levels that finitely timed conversations never fully permit.

I have talked to her by phone, both before and since, as she walked this same loop.  I absorbed the details as we walked that morning, finally having a picture to go with our cell phone chats, and a running route that worked well during my stay with her and her husband Mark.
View Horn Pond; Winchester, MA in a larger map

Look for posts from Puerto Rico and Vieques here in the upcoming weeks!  Lots of stories, photos and (unexpected) adventures!


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