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Minnich: Life’s travel has its detours

First granddaughter’s senior year in high school was abbreviated. The excitement and anticipation of the trips, parties, graduation ceremonies were canceled by a biological accident of stealthy evil.

What a way to start the rest of your life. And what a lesson for preparing to live in a widening world.

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After weeks of uncertainty, it seems likely this week that she will start classes as a university student in the fall. Some adjustments will be inevitable, but it’s something she can look forward to as the fun final days of high school are as the vapors fading over a summer morning meadow.

In no time this tall, lithesome woman who I once carried around like a puppy will be traveling, not just a field trip or family vacation, but the initial journey as an adult with a purpose and a destination.

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She’ll be expanding her experiences and education, will continue testing instincts and meeting challenges as she crafts her own future. She will change, but much of what she is now will be the foundation of what she becomes. It’s early in her story.

If I had been hired as her travel agent, I would have suggested she consider a combination of modes of transportation.

Planes cover long distances fast, but you miss all the scenery along the way, and while they’re cramped, they’re also impersonal. No one talks to the person in the next seat on a plane. It’s like taking a long ride in an elevator.

Driving is full of adventure, but there’s no time for the distractions or daydreaming about the periphery of the route you’re taking. A bus has its benefits, but the downsides of both road and air travel are compounded, too — traffic, noise, exhaust, and proximity to neighbors that may not be easy to live with.

Trains are perfect; they slow down the process, and if you take a window seat at the rear of the car, you can divide your time between the passing tableau of land and waters on the outside. But you have some room to stretch, convenient access to food, drink, and restrooms, and still be in the ambiance of a group of strangers traveling together for a while, before dispersing and going their different ways.

Every mode has its uses in getting somewhere. A diversity of experiences is a good allegory for life in general. Don’t sit still and make assumptions; go and seek truths.

She didn’t hire me as her travel advisor. She has a pretty good idea of who she is and where she wants to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if she changes direction several times as she learns things about herself and the world.

Her parents can take a turn experiencing what its like to watch a plane lift into the sky and become a dot that disappears and wondering if and when there will be a return home.

It’s a price you pay for the privilege of having someone to offer your unconditional love. Worth it.

Over time, the wanderer will recall now and then their roots and the magnificent accidents that converged to define their family story. If they’re lucky, they will still be learning something new as they near the end of the trip.

I’ve been blessed that way. I can remember, though, when I thought I knew all I needed. I was anxious to be on my way.

At least a year ago my granddaughter told me she will be studying to become a nurse anesthetist. Those are the men and women who are in charge of intubating desperately ill victims of the covid-19 virus.

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She has had some part-time experience as a volunteer in a trauma center, so she has an idea of what she’s getting into.

What she doesn’t know is that a great aunt she never met, my mother’s sister, Mary, was an Army nurse/anesthetist specializing in respiratory medicine during World War II.

Dean Minnich was a news writer, editor, and manager. He served two terms as a county commissioner. His column appears every Thursday. His email address is dminnichwestm@gmail.com.

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