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Giddens: Another reason to celebrate
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I’ll be wearing green and a big smile this St. Patrick’s Day.

Our youngest, Michael, will be in transit on Thursday, traveling back in time and back to Georgia.

He’s been in Okinawa, Japan, for six weeks, the longest time and furthest distance he’s been away from home.

Donna and I miss him, and we’ve been worried.

He’s 956 miles from Tokyo, roughly equivalent to the distance between Atlanta and Key West, Fla., so he was well away from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northern part of the main island of Japan on Friday.

There was no major shaking from the earthquake in Okinawa, no tsunami, no fear or radiation. His hosts, his girlfriend’s family, the Kimbles, have been fantastic and welcoming.

And yet Donna and I were worried. We want Michael within hugging distance.

It’s personal and petty, considering the apocalyptic scale of the disaster that has struck Japan.

But we just want our boy back.

Thank goodness for Facebook and a world in which his host family can live half a world away and have a Georgia telephone number. We were able to check almost instantaneously on Michael when we found out about the disaster on early Friday.

It was comfort at no cost.

Facebook is a marvel in itself, allowing for vicarious living and sharing in his travels as soon as he posts photos or comments.

We’ve seen the photos of our beach bum and wonder who exactly has that bug tattoo that’s on display on his Facebook page. Its presence guarantees an interesting conversation to come.

Come Thursday, Michael will be traveling backward through 13 time zones.

His mom and I will worry all day, through his layover in Tokyo, his hours over the Pacific and until his final flight lands in Augusta.

It will be a late flight. His brother will pick him up.

They’ve been instructed to call upon his arrival.

And so we’ll celebrate on Thursday in honor of St. Patrick, eating the traditional corned beef and cabbage and maybe enjoying a Guinness Stout or two.

But we’ll also hold a more personal celebration when we get that call on Thursday: We’ll share a hug of acknowledgement and a kiss in relief in knowing that our youngest is back home.


Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at