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Miss You! Family Grad Reunion

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It seems these days, families live so far apart. I’m sure that’s the way it is for most of us. Keeping connected takes a lot more effort than it used to.  I don’t think it is just me and my loved ones.

Screen sharing is not the same as being together in real time, although it somewhat fills the gaps.

I feel like a slacker. Lately I’ve been losing things, including house keys and my wallet, twice. Moving much too fast. Not exactly self-care. I finished helping at the preschool until September and the preschool was the first graduation. We had seven of the littles graduating and what a fun, imaginative production for all the children.

It seems like I’ve been on a treadmill lately, such a busy time of year. I looked forward to going up to Beaverton to take a much needed family-filled break.

First night I made it through ok, then back to my typical self, at breakfast, the day of the ceremony, I smashed my hand in the dishwasher, imagine that, and was icing during the grad ceremony I missed.

Honestly, I’ve been behind on most birthdays and special events ever since I moved to Eugene. While I lived in the California mountains with my husband William, our large extended family joined us at our historic home and property. When I finally moved to Eugene to be with one of our kids, it felt like splinters of our solid old wood house.

There comes a time in our life when we stop looking through the rearview mirror, focusing on the now, hoping and planning for the future. Sometimes it’s easier to live through our memories, which truth be told, may be somewhat tainted in recollection, the ways things were supposed to be, rather than how they were.

Graduations and Reunions go together, don’t you agree? A time to reflect, hold one another tight, maybe even make needed amends for some long past infraction, perhaps one you weren’t even aware of. If only everyone could attend, but for those who make it, how glorious. 

This time together had special meaning for me, spending time with my sister, Sheryl, catching up with grown up ‘kids’ I hadn’t seen for a long time, who I held in my arms as babies. There are so many other family members I hope to visit this year. I’m so overdue.

We had several graduates this year. The Beaverton weekend grads included kindergarten, eighth and high school. And several loose front teeth.

Who’s Who: Cast of Characters

Sarah’s High School Grad

Every time I visited our Beaverton, Oregon family, it was filled with athletics, one game after another, baseball, my favorite. Last year Jacob graduated, a fine student, athlete and young man. Now it was Sarah’s turn. Almost empty nesters, I think Mom and Dad will be just fine, relieved of all the games, coaching and school functions. However, two out of state tuitions leave me breathless. 

Sarah was outstanding in school, playing five varsity sports, water polo, racquetball, softball, swim team and track and field. She advanced to districts for javelin and discus and made it to the podium. Sarah who was so liked she was also school Princess, will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall, studying engineering.

About eighty friends attended the home party. Plus the family, so about 100 people, all over the place. What a fun celebration. Laughed, I didn’t even get a cupcake, although I ended up eating one, courtesy of Sarah.

Precocious eight year old, Emily still at home. Just lost another tooth. So much was going on, she said “Aunt Rita, tooth fairy forgot me”. I told her it was because of the bed hopping, with company there, tooth fairy wasn’t sure what bed she was in.”  Mom took care of it the next night. Said she completely forgot.

Brendon and his parents, Mike and Katrina flew from Europe; Brendon had been studying French. Berkeley student, a term abroad was amazing for him and we laughed together about our mutual dislike of cheese, except pizza, of course, and how he survived all the cheese. He grew out his hair, very curly and looks so 70’s. I remember playing legos with him and now he has a double major in sciences and French. Very smart and charming.

We watched the old classic movie “Weird Science” with some of the older kids and laughed so hard.

Adam graduated eighth grade, in Temecula, California. Unimaginable. Where did the years go? Mastered martial arts and now studying piano, Adam hung out with adults and the two littlest, all weekend. What a sweetheart. Going into high school. Always an artist, and very bright, Adam is such a joy to be around. I had missed him so.

I went to the Reunion with my daughter Rebecca, husband, TJ and Morgan. Fairly short Griswold road trip, but still heard “are we almost there yet” after the first half hour, and had to stop at Subway. Gluten free buns. Morgan is graduating from Kindergarten next week in Eugene. She lucked out and not only was in a brand new tech-based school, her ‘K’ teacher rocked it. By using “Seesaw”, I got to follow daily classroom events and meaningful activities.

I just wish all the rest of our extended family could have been with us. Life splinters us so. However, other plans are in the works for get-togethers.

Morgan is coming for another sleepover this weekend. I have some ideas of things to do, special for her Kindergarten graduation, because I need to be in California with my sister and have to miss. It’s two weeks late, also, because of all the weather days.

Jacob came home for a quick trip after his freshman year in college in Washington State. He towers over me now. I remember him as a baby. Fortunately he stayed with his friend a couple nights, checking in and out, so I got a bed. The first night I was on futon detail with my daughter, Rebecca. She said I snored. Probably did.

Morgan, six, was in bliss with her cousin Emily, age eight. They are our youngest now, but growing up so fast!

We have two Ritas in our family. My nephew Steve chose wisely. Rita and Steve pulled together the massive home party, and radiated joy and love of family. Offering their home to so many grads and family members. How do you spell love?

Steve made an outstanding slide show of our family, featuring the kids growing up, so many memories. I think I watched it more than a couple times straight through, everyone was in it, past and present, quite a production. Shed more than a few tears.

My sister Sheryl and husband Rick were with us, so very important to me. They live in California, so now I don’t see them very often. Our love is deep and I miss them so.

IMG 4214

Uncle Willy flew in from San Francisco. I talked a little politics with him, not much, politics being a taboo topic this weekend, and no news was watched. A good thing,  probably.  

Rita’s Mom and Dad flew in from southern California, as well, so it was really neat to see that part of the family. Jessica, another family member lives in Beaverton, too, so I got to catch up with her life.

My niece Beth couldn’t attend, stuck in NYC with flu. Sorely missed piece of our family pie.

If you ever want to see diversity, a family who gets along, resolves issues that may come up, ours is a great example.

This grad Reunion was one only one part of our wonderful family. We have a maternal side, paternal side, various cousins, nephews, nieces and I really need to do a Family Tree; there are so many shoots and branches and twigs off branches, not to mention TJ’s family, also quite extensive.

  • We represent varying political philosophies, respect our varying opinions.
  • We are of different nationalities and consider that a plus.
  • We are of several religions, explore and share each.
  • We take care of each other with love and empathy.
  • We are Americans and proud to be Americans.

In our turbulent times, the institutions of graduations, including the protocol and rituals offer a continuation of life that we count on.

Graduations, with or without a family reunion are rites of passage, a cause of celebration, in the rich tradition of yesterday and the bright promise of tomorrow.

Tonight I count my blessings I had opportunity to share another special event in my life, tearfully regret my husband was not there with us, but savor the experience of celebratory bliss.

To all grads, families, friends and loved ones, I send you peace and harmony tonight, a wish for peace in our hearts, nation and world.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita



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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 47 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

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Guest Friday, 22 February 2019