Walking the MU Campus

With great pleasure, I had the opportunity to walk with my grandson Dayan today, on the University of Missouri campus. I had planned this trip to visit my oldest grandchild before I started the 30 Day Walking Challenge, but what a happy turn of events, to spend time with Dayan as he acted as tour guide across the beautiful Mizzou complex.

We didn’t let a little rain dampen our enthusiasm as we headed across campus toward downtown Columbia, where we would dine together. This was the first rainy walking day I’ve had and I was prepared, with umbrellas, a hooded jacket, a raincoat and a change of dry clothes.

Enjoy our walk with us. The University of Missouri has one of the prettiest campuses I have ever seen. Some of the buildings on the sprawling grounds date back to the mid 1800s. There are numerous plants, trees, flowers and gardens, giving MU a botanical garden designation.

Crossing over to the street on the MU pedestrian bridge.

This campus is like a city of 30,000 residents.

So proud of this amazing young man.

The banner says “Welcome Home”. This bustling complex is Dayan’s home for the next few years.

The Speaking Circle, where anyone can stand and speak freely about any topic.

I’ve never seen this plant before. It’s the “puffer fish” of flowers.

I love ornamental grasses.

One of the oldest buildings on campus, at the center of Red Campus, so named for the use of red bricks.

In front of the iconic six columns, which were originally part of a building that caught fire and burned to the ground.

Love this pic of Dayan.

Gorgeous.

Love this red courtyard.

Our dinner destination, in downtown Columbia, and we walked to it! The food was healthy and delicious. Dayan picked this cafe with my plant based lifestyle in mind.

Dayan’s favorite cookie company. We stopped so he could have a peanut butter cookie.

The beautiful, and massive, Ellis Library.

We climbed two flights of stairs for this amazing view.

Even the MU campus has a bell tower, which reminds my grandson and me of our trip to Italy, with its towers throughout the country.

I so enjoyed my walk today, and spending time with Dayan. He walks a lot, every day, across campus to his classes. I appreciate that he was willing to walk with me and his Papa, and tell us about his new home, his village, his university.

The campus is so beautiful, so inspiring. However the time spent walking side by side with my grandson was priceless. Dayan is doing well, already involved in leadership roles, and thriving, which brings great joy to my heart.

I can’t wait to visit him again…and explore more of Columbia.

MIZ…ZOU

Today I enjoyed a road trip north to the beautiful city of Columbia, Missouri and the campus of the University of Missouri. It has been two weeks since I saw my grandson Dayan. I traveled to MU with Greg and our daughter Elissa to visit Dayan for the first time since he moved into the dorm, and I captured our trip in photos.

Photo by Elissa Adam

Crossing the Missouri River as we passed the state’s capital, Jefferson City. Columbia, which is 236 miles from Joplin, is not far from Jefferson City. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I enjoyed catching up with my daughter as we all chatted.

Dayan’s residence hall on the gorgeous campus of the University of Missouri. Mizzou is the affectionate nickname for this university. It is a form of clipping, or shortening, a longer name into a shorter one. In this case, Missouri to Mizzou. The first reference to the nickname was in a 1905 college publication. At games and events, it is customary for the fans on one side to shout MIZ…and the other side to answer ZOU! The university mascot is the tiger and the colors are gold and black.

And this is the young man we came to see! It was so good to hug him and talk to him and hang out for a few hours. We met Dayan’s roommate, Carlisle, who was kind and personable. I was impressed with the dorm room and with the hall’s casual meeting areas and laundry facilities.

On the way to lunch, Dayan guided us around campus. I loved the stone and brick buildings, the newer structures and the mature trees and many gardens. The campus is actually considered a botanical garden. I’ll be exploring the grounds on foot during my next visit.

Holding to a long established tradition between Dayan and me, we enjoyed Chinese food for lunch at a nearby Panda Express. I was able to select brown rice topped with mixed veggies, while Dayan had his usual orange chicken. Elissa and Greg both tried the kung pao chicken. We read our fortunes to each other. Mine said Important events are in your future. True!

After a trip to Walmart to get a few things Dayan needed, we wandered through downtown Columbia, on the way back to campus. I’ve been to Columbia several times, but this was my first time to the charming downtown. The city, which is about twice the size of Joplin, had a lively energy and the definite feel of a college town. Small shops and caf├ęs lined the streets and this time of year, bistro tables and chairs provided outdoor dining.

Dayan’s favorite Starbucks.

I enjoyed getting to know Mizzou’s campus. I’m impressed with the extensive grounds and the halls. I look forward to attending future events and activities here.

It did my heart good today, to see my grandson. I have missed him. And it brought me great joy to see that he is thriving. He is happy and having fun. His classes are interesting and challenging. Dayan has learned his way around campus and around the city and he is making new friends.

College life agrees with Dayan and it shows. He was confident and relaxed and excited to show us around and share about his classes and activities. I could drive away after our visit, knowing he’s not so very far away and that he is doing well and thoroughly enjoying this new adventure. And that brought peace to the hearts and smiles to the faces of his Papa, Yaya and Mom. The boy has become a man.

The Continuing Adventures of Dayan

My grandson Dayan leaves tomorrow, headed to his new home for the next few years, a dorm room at the University of Missouri in Columbia. A few of us gathered for an impromptu dinner, to send him off with smiles and gratitude and promises to visit.

It is a big step, for him and his family. My children all attended local universities. Dayan is the first to venture farther out, which is so typical of this world minded young man. He thinks big. He lives big. I am so incredibly proud of him.

Dayan and I have had a strong connection since before he was born. When my daughter was pregnant with him, I had a dream in which an angel appeared, carrying a baby boy. He stretched his arms out toward me. The angel placed the dark haired, dark eyed child in my arms and we studied each other's faces. I knew this was my grandson. My heart overflowed with love for him.

Dayan began calling me Yaya when he was 8 months old. I discovered that Yaya is the Greek word for grandmother. How did this baby boy know that? I'm not sure. I only know he has an old soul, and he was a wise baby, meaning he seemed to know things beyond his years.

We have shared many adventures, this boy and I. We used to invent stories when we were together. We called them The Continuing Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. As he grew older we stopped telling made up stories and lived the adventures instead.


A little foreshadowing, from 10 years ago.

I have learned so much from my oldest grandchild. He taught me by his example to see the good in people, that kindness is always appreciated, and living as the person you are created to be requires courage. He has been my gardening buddy, introduced me to Doctor Who, taught me about the countries of the world, expanded my knowledge and my beliefs.

I have spent one afternoon a week with my grandson, picking him up from school or hanging out with him during the summer, since he was in third grade. We've played games, built virtual kingdoms, explored Joplin and beyond, and these last few years, sat comfortably together on the sofa, watching TV shows such as Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Okkupert (a Norwegian series with English subtitles) and most recently, Once Upon a Time. We've laughed, and sniffled together, and had amazing conversations about every topic imaginable. I always bring him Chinese food.

My heart was very full as I hugged him goodbye tonight. Dayan, these words I send with you as you embark on your next adventure:

I love you. No matter where you go, or who you are, or what you do, or who you journey with, nothing will ever change my love for you. It is absolute and unfailing.

I am always here for you. I am your fan, your cheerleader, your confidante. I will listen, offer my heart and my words, wrap my arms around you, applaud your achievements. You can call, text, message or visit me anytime. Yes, even in the middle of the night. You are never too old, never too far away that my love can't find you.

Be you. Always. Be kind and courageous. Use your mind and your heart and your voice. Learn. Grow. Travel. Explore. Follow your passions and trust your instincts. Keep looking for the good in people, in situations and in the world. Be the change you want to see in the world. Love. Love yourself and love others. Know that the Divine is with you, guiding you.

And keep having adventures. Lots of them.

I am very glad tonight that Columbia is only four hours away. This week, I will miss meeting Dayan at his house, Chinese food in tow. Wednesday afternoons will feel empty for a while.

I am grateful for the relationship we have, for the years we have spent building it word by word and hug by hug and adventure by adventure. I know Dayan will do great things. He has been raised well and prepared for this next step. That he walks on his own now is a tribute to his mom, stepdad and family.

Although I know we might have more adventures together, this is Dayan's time to adventure on his own. This is his journey. And when we cannot walk together, I will surround him with love and joy and peace.

After hugs tonight, I asked Dayan if I could visit him on the MU campus in a couple of weeks, before I leave on my next travel adventure.

"You can visit me any time, Yaya," he said. "Bring Chinese food!"

I will, Dayan. I will!