August 2017 Family Memories

August has been a month for tearful goodbyes at the McKeel household. Two of them were planned and others, although not a shock, can never be quite prepared for.

We started the month with sending our service dog, Hartford, off to college. We said goodbye to her on the 4th in Orlando at the CCI training center. They had an elaborate ceremony at a local church. We got to see the class ahead of her graduate with their partners. There were 23 or so dogs that graduated. A mix of companion dogs, hearing dogs, assistance dogs and one facility dog. It was incredibly rewarding to see the joy of the people who have been granted a new level of freedom because of their canine companions! (If you want to know more about CCI go to

Hartford met her sister, Hugger, and lots of other dogs that look and dress like she does. After the ceremony we took her to the training center and said our goodbyes. As you can imagine, I was a mess–please pass the tissues!! Hartford didn’t look back. I knew she wouldn’t. She loves being with other dogs. I am happy that she will have six months of “college” life before she goes off to work.

August brought us another proud day. Our oldest son, David, left for Clemson to start his college career just two weeks after saying goodbye to Hartford. Very bad planning on my part! He is loving college life and we are very proud of him 🙂

If saying goodbye to our dog and our oldest child wasn’t enough, we also had to say our final goodbyes to Charles’ Uncle Aubrey and worst of all his mother, Lessie. Both within two weeks of each other. Neither was a shock. Uncle Aubrey had cancer and Lessie had successfully fought off sepsis, pneumonia and c-diff! But the pneumonia kept returning and eventually she passed away at the age of 91. She was a wonderful mother-in-law and a great mother to her four children and grandmother to her 9 grandchildren and great grandmother to her one beautiful great granddaughter. Although we are sad, we can certainly celebrate her life well lived.

We also had some great times this month:

The Aiken High School Booster Club, of which I chair the Ad Sales Committee, raised money to install a digital scoreboard. This was a huge accomplishment that will benefit the school for years to come.

David turned 19 years old and Alex turned 17 and the cosmos celebrated Alex’s birthday with a full solar eclipse! What an amazing sight. I hope many of you were able to get to the path of totality. As David texted me from Clemson, “10/10 Coolest thing I have ever seen.” I have lived many more years than David and I have to agree. I can’t think of spectacle to top that!


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