Karen Turns 52!

A Great Daughter, Mother, and Life Companion
August 7, 2022
Jay's Letter to Karen

August 7, 2022

Dear Karen,

Happy 52nd birthday to my wonderful daughter! You know how proud I am of you as a daughter, as a mother, and as a companion to Cathy.

I had returned from Vietnam in early June 1969 to attend classes at Purdue University. Your Mom and I moved into Married Student Housing there at Purdue and so I could begin my studies, and Mom also began working to complete the Bachelor's Degree she had begun in Indianapolis. The apartment was small but there were just two of us, so the space was just fine. We made friends with the neighbors next-door who were from South America. We watched Neil Armstrong take "a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" on July 20, 1969.

In the late fall of that year Bonnie learned she was pregnant, and we were both very excited.

In the spring of 1970, in addition to our studies, we became gardeners when students were allowed to buy small 25' x 25' plots for four dollars. Well, we bought two plots and the story of Bonnie‘s gardening efforts for those plots is pretty interesting and is on this BradenClan Website.

August 7 was on a Friday and that morning I was scheduled to take a final exam in my Management course, but you had other plans for us that day. I called my professor, and he was very nice, and I took the test at a later date.

We drove from West Lafayette across the Wabash River into Lafayette and on to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where you were born without any problems or concerns as I recall. You were nice enough to be born on the last day of Summer School, giving Bonnie and me about 2 1/2 weeks to do nothing but love on you and take care of you. I don't recall all the details but I do recall that this was mostly a 24 hour a day operation and when your Mom wasn't sleeping, I was. And vice versa.

From Purdue we moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where I was assigned to be an instructor at the US Army Engineer School. There was a waiting list for on base housing, and your Mom and I ended up buying a home south of Fort Belvoir in Dale City. It was a new home and had a nice yard. Lenny and Guy Donaldson, whom we had met at Purdue, lived nearby so they got to love on you. And the distance from Fort Belvoir to Severna Park, Maryland, was about four hours so there were many weekends when Bonnie and I would drive about two hours north and Nanny and Bill would drive two hours south, and we handed you off so they could spoil you for a weekend.

And over the next 25 years you gained two sisters and a brother, and the family got to travel around the world as you followed me in my military assignments. Not easy continually giving up old friends and having to make new ones.

You graduated from Hanau High School in June 1988. And you went on to earn an AA from Hillsborough Community College, a Bachelor's of Social Work from FSU, a Master's in Public Administration from FSU, and - recently - a Master's in Social Work from FSU. I cannot tell you how proud I am of your educational accomplishments, especially with your graduate schooling having to be worked in with family activities and your various appointments.

As to family activities you found a life companion in Cathy Alvarez, and you had triplets. I will always remember Bonnie, and Anne, and me working around the clock to keep the babies fed and changed.

Joyce has observed that you and Cathy are wonderful parents, and I would strongly agree. So would Bonnie. You and Cathy have been there for Skyler and Braden and Daylin through their schooling and their recreational activities, and their religious programs in a manner worthy of emulation. I have watched the kids go from babies to toddlers to youngsters and, now, to teenagers who are very close to being young adults.

So on this, your 52nd birthday, I hope you can agree with me that your life has been blessed and – once again - I am so proud of you.

Joyce and I wish you a very Happy Birthday with many, many more to come.