Friends have asked me what I hoped to do when I retire, and I have often said I want to visit parts of the United States where I have never been.
I also would like to visit Europe, the Orient, South America and Africa before I die, but first things first. Being an American, I put greater importance in seeing the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park than on seeing the Eifel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Before traipsing off to other lands, I want to see America.
I have seen most of America east of the Mississippi River with one exception. I have never been to New England. I have been to upstate New York within spitting distance of Vermont, but since I never crossed the state line into Vermont, I have never been to New England.
Well, that is about to change, and for that I can thank my oldest granddaughter, a senior honor student at Paul G. Blazer High School. A couple of months ago, I wrote in this space that Aryssa received an offer she could not refuse and would be attending Washington and Lee University in Virginia on a full $26,000-a-year scholarship that paid for tuition, room, books, and even money for summer studies abroad.
Well, that column proved to be premature. Soon after being named a Johnson Scholar at Washington and Lee, Aryssa learned she had been accepted into Yale University, which had always been her first choice but one that even this proud grandfather thought she had little chance of getting in to. After all, fewer than 4 percent of those who apply to Yale get accepted, and Aryssa is not even the valedictorian of the Blazer class of 2014. But she does have high test scores and is apparently a gifted writer of entrance essays.
O ye of little faith. Not only did Yale accept my granddaughter, it paid her way to New Haven, Conn., to visit the campus for “Bulldog Weekend,” a special program for incoming students. While on the historic campus, Aryssa sat in on actual classes and got to hobnob with other students. She has not been the same since returning to Ashland, where she lives just down the hall from her grandparents.
As it turns out, my granddaughter will attend Yale for less than what it would have cost her to attend Ashland Community and Technical College. Who could refuse an offer like that?
So sometime in August or September, I will be loading the family into my car to take Aryssa to Yale. While I am extremely proud of her, I also am a bit apprehensive. For the first time in her life, Aryssa will be surrounded by students who are all as smart as if not smarter than she is. And she will be rubbing elbows with classmates whose parents earn more money in a week than I do in a year and who have never wanted for anything in their lives. In other words, they are about as different from Aryssa, the daughter of a single mom who became pregnant while a senior in high school, as you can get.
I worry about that and in many ways wish she were going to Washington and Lee, and not just because it is less than four hours from Ashland. But I have prayed many times that God would place my granddaughter in the school where he wanted her. I now pray that God will always be her guide while she is there.
An update on my recent knee surgery: I was released from Kingsbrook Lifecare Center Tuesday morning and I am now recuperating at my home on Forest Avenue. A home health nurse is coming to my house three days a week to give me therapy and to help me learn how to better negotiate all the steps.
My progress in the past week has been nothing short of amazing and I am getting closer and closer to returning to work. The pain has almost completely disappeared, but I still need to work on straightening my new knee and on my balance. The homesick spell I reported on last week has now completely disappeared.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent .com or at (606) 326-2649.