My father drove to Atlanta on Saturday (the night I was pifflefesting), and then Monday afternoon he and I and younger brother's family piled in their van to head to the airport. Security lines were very short, the flight was smooth, and we picked up a rental van and headed to older brother's house to meet up with, as it turned out, all of them to go out to dinner. That dragged on a while, so afterwards we (the Georgia contingent) found our hotel so the kids could get some sleep.
Tuesday started, after breakfast, with some of us in the rather chilly hotel pool. Then we walked to a so-so Chinese restaurant for lunch, and met up with my older brother and his younger son (not the graduate-to-be, who was coping with last-minute school demands so he actually could graduate) at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. I thought I'd been there before, but if I had, it's now changed beyond recognition. Lots of nice science exhibits, mostly interactive, a few native animals in an indoor mini-zoo, a very nice butterfly house with a side wing (pun! pun!) on other insects, a large playground with more science focus: water pump toys (make the water wheel work, drench your sibling with a water spout, etc.), sound toys (gongs, steel drums, other percussion instruments in various outdoor shelters, to be banged on at will), and the semi-obligatory mini train ride--probably the only thing I felt wasn't worth it. We could have spent a lot more time there without anyone, from the 81 year old to the 4 year old, getting bored. And we got in free courtesy of our Fernbank Museum memberships!
Tuesday evening was the night designated to celebrate the graduation, and we asked Lee, the graduate, to pick the place. All the information we got from my older brother (who made the reservations) was "it's a steakhouse" and that it was casual. That was true, and yes, the building looks like a big red barn....but it's a steakhouse with a world-class wine list, and truly superb food. The Angus Barn--if you are ever in Durham, N.C., I highly recommend it. Don't miss the chocolate chess pie...I allowed myself 4 bites, scarfed off the plates of others. This may be the treat I try to make for myself (the recipe is on their Web site) when I hit my weight-loss goal...but I'll have to eat my one piece and give the rest away immediately, as I don't think my will-power is up to resisting it.
Lee opened his graduation gifts while we were there. From us there were a good suitcase, stuff for his future dorm room, books from his Amazon wish list. He also got a large check from his other grandfather, and a promise of another large sum from his parents and brother to be used to buy a car. Caveats: a minimum MPG rating and a minimum safety rating must be equalled or exceeded. My favorite of the dorm-room stuff: a doormat very suitable for Lee, who has worked in computer support of late. It reads "Please stay on the mat. Your visit is very important to us. Your knock will be answered in the order in which it was received."
After dinner we retired to the hotel so the kids could be put to bed. Lee and his father came over after a while, and we sat in my brother and sister-in-law's room (connected to the kids' room) and chatted for a while. We talked about our various graduations, and college decisions (Lee's still not sure where he wants to go), and on putting off decisions (we Barbers prefer to call it "keeping your options open", which drives both my s-i-l's batty). That led somehow to introvert/extrovert discussions and commiserations--everyone in the room was an introvert, but the other two members of my older brother's family are extroverts. All us introverts agreed that introverts can understand extroverts far better than extroverts can ever understand introverts.
Wednesday was the actual graduation. But that morning, my brothers and I, with my father sitting in, snatched some time to have a trustees meeting (for the trust that resulted from our mother's estate). Finally decided to buy a couple of stocks to replace other investments--we hadn't bought anything since 2002, I think.
We grabbed sandwiches for lunch and loaded the van, then set off for Cameron Indoor Stadium over at Duke where the graduation was held. We arrived well before either the graduate or his parents, and went ahead and found seats. Cell phone communications got us together, though Lee's younger brother managed to slip off and sit with friends. The graduation went smoothly, except for the highly annoying (to me, at least) behavior on the part of many relatives and friends as they whistled, cheered, screamed, blew air horns, and generally disrupted the ceremony for the graduate following theirs. This despite the principal announcing that the ceremony would be stopped if the noise was too loud (and in fact, they did stop briefly several times to try and get the noise down). Times have changed in the 30 years since I graduated (insert glyph for crotchety old lady).
But we did see Lee get his diploma, and then gathered outside to take some pictures and meet his girlfriend. We all then adjourned (well, after a loooong wait to get out of the parking lot) to The Mad Hatter, a cafe and bakery, for a little more visiting before we headed to the airport.