On Wednesday, I flew with my daughter, Jenny, and her husband, Ron, to Phoenix, Arizona, where Ron was to be awarded his Doctorate of Business Administration. We picked up the rental car at Avis and drove to the Sheraton Hotel. What a fabulous penthouse suite! We knew it would be a great place for the celebration party; it was very roomy and had a large patio as well. They took me to Mike and Alva’s (Ron’s sister and her husband), where I was to stay.
On Thursday, the five of us drove to Sedona and had lunch. The scenery through that countryside is awesome. We saw some beautiful geologic formations. Sedona, which had expanded since Jenny and Ron were last there five years ago, is built on a southwestern adobe style architectural plan, and it’s very artsy. The statue of the dancing couple, dressed in 19th century costume, life-size bronze and rotating on a wagon wheel, is on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. For dinner that night we ate sandwiches at home.
Friday was Veterans Day, and it fell on 11-11-11. Alva wanted to stay home and make Friendship Bread. So Jenny and I went to Tempe. She knew of a street at the Arizona State campus that has lots of restaurants. We chose the Irish pub; we ate shepherd’s pie and bread pudding with Irish whiskey. Then we drove a long way back to the center of Phoenix to the Phoenix Art Museum. We were fortunate enough to be there for a Veteran’s Day Celebration that took place in a small auditorium. First there was a Flag Ceremony, the Honor Guard being veterans. Several veterans in the audience were introduced. There was one man who had been in WW II, a few from Korea and Vietnam, and several from Afghanistan. A docent, who has been with the museum for about 30 years, gave an inspiring presentation of art using slides projected onto a large screen. Her focus was on the Hudson River School, showing the natural treasures of America. Afterward, we joined everyone on the courtyard lawn for refreshments. I met the World War II Veteran. Later in the day, Jenny and I helped Alva arrange the food platters for the next day. Then we went to the hotel to decorate. Jenny, Alva, and I (well, not me, so much) strung crepe paper streamers across the drapery of the windows and arranged the table decorations. Ron and Mike blew up balloons and attached bunches of them to the crepe paper streamers.
Saturday was Ron’s big day. He and Jenny went early to the University of Phoenix’s stadium, which is four times larger than the University of Florida’s O’Connell Center. Alva, Mike, and I joined Jenny in the seats. She chose to be on the front row, and we had a good view of Ron when he came in. The procession was led by a group of bag-pipers and drummers. Jessie, Mike and Alva’s daughter, and her daughter, Kayla, also came to see Ron graduate. The graduates and the speakers were shown on two large video screens. Ron was interviewed, along with lots of others, and Jenny got to see that, but we didn’t arrive until later. But we got to see him file in with the other Doctoral Candidates wearing his impressive robe and red hat. The video gave a really up-close view of each graduate and displayed the name. Our guy: Dr. Ronald Dearinger.
After the ceremony, we went to the Sheraton Hotel for the party. Jenny displayed Ron’s Disertation and his Diploma (which had been sent to him in August). A large chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake served as a tempting centerpiece. In addition to the seven of us, there were other guests. Ron’s nephew, Willie, and his girlfriend, came from about 30 miles away. And Ron was especially pleased that the wife of the principal of his high school, Alice (88 years young), and her two daughters, Bev and Jean, came. Jean and Alva were good friends during their high school days, and they still get together from time to time. There was lots of reminiscing going on. Jenny showed the rotating 150 pictures of Ron and his friends and family on her lap top computer and she also took lots of pictures of everybody. I enjoyed talking to Alice. Jenny told her that I am a writer and she told us that her cousin is Dav Pilkey who wrote the Captain Underpants books. I said I would have to tell my grandsons about that. Jessie’s daughter, Kayla, is an adorable 4-year old. Jenny gave her a toy and I gave her a book; she was very interested in her gifts and enjoyed playing with them. I sat with her and we lifted the flaps on the book, and I was surprised that she knew so many words; she’s very smart and was well-behaved throughout the long day. We also played toss-the-balloons, the way I had played with my grandsons years ago. Ron was looking forward to a good prime rib, so we all joined up again at a nice restaurant. I enjoyed getting better acquainted with Bev. She had been a neo-natal Nurse Practitioner, but is now retired to ranch work. It was altogether a very satisfying day. We are all so proud of the hard work that Ron put in to achieve his Doctorate.
Jenny will be putting pictures of the event on Facebook.
Then after we came back home, the following Sunday, Jenny threw another party for Ron at the clubhouse at Uptown Village. This was a great opportunity for Ron’s local family, friends, and colleagues to express their pride and congratulations.
Jenny had a special surprise for Ron. She used copies of his Dissertation to make pinwheels which she stuck into pencils and displayed in terra cotta pots. These were the centerpieces for the scattered tables. I helped her make the pinwheels. It was my suggestion to use gold doilies under the pots. She also used pages from the Dissertation–copies, that is–to create a banner that read CONGRATULATIONS. She displayed the Diploma and Dissertation–which has a humongous title–at the front of the room, along with Ron’s doctoral gown, hood, and red hat. The room looked very festive with the decorations and food.
When Ron came in, he said something like, Should we follow the old tradition and burn the Dissertation. I said we did something better than that. He like the things Jenny had done with the pages.
She also put the automatic picture album on a table and it ran all day. This time there were pictures of the graduation in Phoenix.
It was fun to stretch the celebrations out for a couple of weeks.