Our Family
Family Calendar
Family Album

Army Stuff

Annual Christmas Letters


Gator Jokes

You Might Be a Gator Jokes

Family Games















Jay and Bonnie
1967-2014

Jay and Bonnie Braden were married 47 years and were blessed with four children and many grandchildren, in lives that took them many places as a result of Jay’s career in the US Army, including two tours in Germany. In 1996 Jay retired from the Army and worked another 16 years at two universities before fully retiring to golf, racquetball, and family fun; while Bonnie remained active with family, church, crafts, and tennis, to name a few things. By 2012 they were living in Valrico, fully retired, and looking forward to growing old together. But that was not to be, as Bonnie went to be with our Lord in June of 2014. Fred and Joyce Pollicina were married over 30 years. Joyce had two children and five grandchildren from a previous marriage. Both Fred and Joyce were healthcare professionals; Fred was a renowned cardiologist and rose to be Chief of Staff at what was then University Community Hospital near the University of South Florida campus, and Joyce was a Critical Care Registered Nurse and ran 3-Main at that facility. Fred was retired due to medical issues in the late 1990s, and Joyce retired in 2011 after 47 years in nursing. They traveled together and with friends until Fred went to be with our Lord in July of 2015.
Fred and Joyce
1986-2015
The Current Braden Family
Jay and Joyce and children and grandchildren

Jay and Joyce had known each other casually for years. For example, Jay coached Joyce's grandson Conner in soccer, and Jay & Bonnie met Fred & Joyce at times at Moffitt Cancer Center when Bonnie and Fred were both being treated there. Also, Joyce's daughter Michelle had sung at Steve and Sandra's wedding. Over about an 18 month period beginning in November of 2016 they began seeing each other. Although Jay refused to admit it until way past when he should have, he came to love Joyce and the feeling was mutual.

Jay came to realize that while Bonnie was the love of his life for 47 years, and that while Fred was the love of Joyce’s life for 30 years, Jay and Joyce could each love other in their own special way. While Jay will never love anyone like he loved Bonnie, and while Joyce will never love anyone like she loved Fred, Jay and Joyce can love each other - deeply. One day they will each join in heaven and live joyously there along with their former spouses, family, and friends.

For now they will continue to enjoy their time together and their common interests, and hope to do so for a long while.

          *           *           *          
The BradenClan Monthly Blog
(A short but absolutely not all-inclusive paragraph about some of the things going on with the family.)
          *           *           *          


June 2024
June was an eventful month. Jay learned from Sandra that Savanah is pregnant and the baby is due in January. Prayers and blessings! Outside of that, probably the top event was spending three and half days at Universal Orlando with Robert and his family. We had tried to find some activity where both Robert's family and Karen's family could jointly participate, but the summer activities of Skyler, Braden, and Daylin just did not leave a near-term opening where we could all get together. (Karen has an open invitation to find a day or so when her whole family is available and we can do something locally perhaps Busch Gardens or Adventure Island.) Daylin traveled to Tallahassee for a one week music camp that she loved; Braden's baseball travel team won a large tournament in Auburndale with a huge comeback in the championship game; and Skyler's softball travel team participated in a tournament in Gainesville that was bringing in college coaches to scout out prospects. Unfortunately, Skyler came down with appendicitis and she had to have an emergency appendectomy, which meant the college coaches didn’t get to see her play, but she was soon home recovering without complications. (By the way, the music camp, and the two tournaments all came at about the same time, so you can imagine what Karen and Cathy had to go through to coordinate travel and lodging.). Joyce continued to stay in contact with her many lifelong friends, and was there for them when they needed medical advice or assistance. This was often hard to do while she was trying to manage her own excruciating back pain. Jay continued with his Pickleball and Golf, and also did some work to improve the family website and keep it current. And, yes, we watched the First Presidential Debate and listened to the post-debate commentaries.

May 2024
May saw granddaughter, Daylin, being recognized as Most Outstanding in Chamber Orchestra for her violin accomplishments. Plus we got to see her play in a select orchestra this month. Meanwhile, Skyler's Bloomingdale High School Girls Softball team was progressing through the district tournament and into regionals, which they won and earned them a spot in the statewide competition. Unfortunately they lost a close game at State, but we were proud of Skyler and all her teammates. May was Mother's Day, and we had a nice celebration. May was also a big day for Joyce, as she celebrated her 80th birthday. She had something like 200 Facebook messages from those sending her best wishes for the day and the future, and thanking her for all she had done for them in the past.

April 2024
April was a good month. Lots of activities involving sports with Karen and Cathy's children plus Jay and Joyce were the recipients of a wonderful roasted short ribs meal cooked by Joyce grandson, Tyler; plus Jay and Joyce celebrated their sixth anniversary with a nice dinner at the Sacred Pepper restaurant in downtown Tampa; and they attended Joyce's Hillsborough High School 80th Birthday Party celebration. Musically, Daylin (now First Chair) played in her high school's Spring Concert and Braden did similarly in the Spring Band Concert a few days later. A fun and yet another busy month.

March 2024
March seem to be a fairly busy month. It began with Jay and Joyce attending the >a href="Strawberry_Fest_2024.html">Beach Boys Concert at the Florida Strawberry Festival. A few days later Jay and Robert hooked up to watch a demonstration of Chick-fil-A food delivery by drone, a concept being tested in the Valrico area. Very interesting. The month also included visiting the first day of the Valspar Golf Tournament held in Palm Harbor. Also a good time. And a few days later Jay got away to visit Robert's family in LaGrange for a fun weekend with him and his family.

February 2024
February was a pretty active month in the Braden household. The seniors group in their church had a Love-a-Palooza night featuring music from the 70s, and Jay and Joyce dressed for the occasion. This was also the month that Florida State Fair and its Horticulture Competition. Joyce’s entry was better than any other of the 300+ submissions to the competition; her cactus won Best of Show. (Ooops, need more wall space for all her ribbons.) Jay also continued with golf and participated in his men's group tournament. He would say he did not play well individually, but his team came in third place and won six other individual prizes that came with financial rewards, so that was good. Yes, Pickleball remained fun, playing with a nice group of people. Joyce continued to serve "a bunch" of friends as a Patient Advocate. As always, this required lengthy phone calls and a lot of time spent reading her medical books. She would not let up, even though her back showed no relief from her latest procedure.

January 2024
January included Jay and Joyce again participating in one of their church's senior ministry events; a Chili Cookoff, where Joyce's Wild and Crazy Chili won First Place over ten other entries. And pirates Jay and Joyce - in costume, of course - were again at Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Parade, now the third biggest annual parade in the USA. A very good time with lots of fun and many more beads to bring home.

December 2023
Early in December Jay and Joyce attended their church's senior's ministry’s Christmas Party. There was lots of food and fellowship, followed by a White Elephant Gift Exchange. We had to leave a bit early, however. Joyce's back was giving her a lot of trouble. Christmas Eve was a Sunday, and the church service that day included the choir singing its Choir program. The choir had been practicing since September and it was very good. That night Jay and other Legends Pass homeowners put out their luminaries, and the neighborhood was clearly ready for Christmas. This year Christmas Day was at Michelle’s apartment. We had good food and fun games; the games courtesy of Joyce and Michelle. From December 26-29 Jay plus Karen and the triplets, traveled to Orlando where they stayed at the Westgate Lakes Resort. Over the next three days and nights they were challenged by an Escape Room (where they prevailed), miniature golf, trampoline bouncing, bowling, miniature golf, Top Golf, and Go-Kart racing. Then the Alvarez family returned to Brandon, and Jay joined Joyce and her family for three nights at the Gaylord Palms, where they certainly ate well and also enjoyed visiting ICE. (Visiting ICE means traveling through rooms and rooms of hand-carved ice sculptures created by over 40 world-renowned master artisans who had spent over 6-weeks hand-carving the approximately 6,700 blocks of ice to create this one-of-a-kind Christmas attraction.) And the BradenClan Website reached a milestone: 300 Gator Jokes! (There would have lots more if Jay didn't stand fast on No jokes worse the PG!

November 2023
Fall was a bit in the air, at least from the calendar standpoint because the Florida weather was nice. Daylin's Fall School Concert at Bloomingdale High School was very nice; it appears she is becoming an accomplished artist. She also ran cross county, while Skyler played "Fall Ball" with the Bloomingdale Softball Team and Braden participated in Rec League Baseball. On November 18, Jay joined Karen and her family in traveling to Lakeland where they met Robert and Everett who had come down fron LaGrange. Everett, age 12, was running in the Junior Olympic Cross Country Regionals, where he finished fifth out of a field of about 45. His time was not quite good enough to go on to the nationals, but we were certainly proud of him. For Thanksgiving Day, Jay and Joyce traveled about 45 miles northwest to join Joyce's son Michael and his wife Karri at their Home in Hudson. Also there were Joyce's daughter Michelle and her friend Steve, plus grandson Tyler. No good news on Joyce's back. She has been told that the next step is a plate screwed into her vertebrae, and she doesn't want hardware in her back. Jay is still playing golf and Pickleball. Also creating puzzles and games for family get-togethers.

October 2023
October begin with our Tampa Bay Rays only making it into the World Series playoffs with a two out of three play-in series, and they lost two straight. Sad, they had such a record-breaking start of the season. But there was always football to now occupy our time, and Florida State University was looking pretty good. As for our Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will just have to see how it plays without Tom Bradey. The month included a couple of functions with Joyce’s high school class and with an association, she belongs to; each . . . nice events. The highlight of the month for Jay and Joyce was their trips; Jay’s trip to Georgia to be with Robert's family over a weekend and Joyce's trip with her daughter Michelle to be at St. Augustine over the weekend. In each case good family times. And, of course, the month ended with Halloween.

September 2023
September's Labor Day weekend found Jay along with Karen‘s family and Robert's family again at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. (There was nothing that could be done at this time to help Michael and Karri except to provide them some things to help tide them over until the insurance could kick in.) This annual outing is almost starting to become a tradition. This year they moved up to a four bedroom villa to accommodate Robert and Natalie's larger family, and, as usual, the facility was great except for perhaps a kitchen that was a bit small, but everyone made it work. Natalie had done a lot of preliminary shopping to take care of breakfasts and lunches so that helped much. They weren't sure about being able to again rent to golf carts to let everyone travel around Callaway, but it turned out that two were available and they even got a break on the price. All in all, a very, very good time. Unfortunately, the hoped-for improvement in Joyce's back pain did not occur, and by the end of the month she was back to one of the highest pain levels she had ever endured. For Michael and Karri, their insurance and help from FEMA kicked in, and by the end of September, the damaged furniture and appliances had been removed and the sheet rock ruined by water had also been removed. They were very pleased with the work crew that was brought in to repair the damages, plus they took an opportunity to make some minor but very nice changes to their floor plan layout. Hopefully by the end of October they will be back living in their home and most of this pretty ugly event will be behind them.

August 2023
If you look at our August calendar, it would appear that is began as a pretty quiet month including Jay's very nice preschool vacation with Karen and her family at the Bilmar Resort on Treasure Island Beach, St Petersburg. Then came August 17, when Joyce went in for a surgery on her back, having had absolutely no relief from a variety of different types of procedures designed to make her back pain more manageable. Initial readings are somewhat positive, but time will tell. But, behind the scenes, there were families getting ready for school, watching Tampa Bay Rays baseball to see if they could continue their winning ways, looking at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team in the NFL and the Florida State Seminoles college football team to get a preview of how they might do once the regular seasons begin. Right, at the end of the month, Hurricane Idalia hit the Florida Coast. Karen's home and our home only experienced some higher than normal winds and a lot of rain, but Michael and Karrie's home on a canal in Hudson, Florida, suffered extensive water damage. A very trying emotional time. Thankfully, Michael and Karri had good neighbors, who helped them by providing housing, because their home was unlivable due to water damage. The month ended with them working with their insurance company and FEMA to determine what damages were covered and how to make the necessary cleanup and home repairs.

July 2023
July was an active month. It began with Jay and Joyce again celebrating the Independence Day holiday at the Bilmar Resort on Treasure Island. They were joined on the fourth by Joyce's son, Michael and his wife, Karrie, and by Joyce’s daughter, Michelle, and her friend, Steve Slade. The days were hot, but the canopy and an ocean breeze kept things bearable. The fireworks were great and - as usual - it was another good time at the Bilmar. In mid month, Jay and other three members of his golf team, placed third in his association's annual Red-White-Blue golf tournament. The team was also one of four closest-to-the-pin contest winners, and also the winner of the longest-made-putt competition on the ninth hole. So Jay had good camaraderie and took home some cash. Sweet. Then, on Monday the 17th, Jay joined Karen and her family for a drive up to Orlando where Robert and his family were staying at a Marriott Resort. That also was a very nice day. A bit later in the month Jay and Joyce joined John Sellers, and his wife, Linda, and their families as John celebrated the fifth anniversary of his kidney implant. John, who is a chef, treated us all to a really great barbecue meal, with many different delicious meats and sides. Jay ended the month with a routine cardio appointment; all is fine, though if the Tampa Bay Rays keep up their winning ways, it is doubtful his heart will be able to take it.

June 2023
Robert and his family traveled from their home in Georgia down to St Pete Beach on Saturday, June 17 for a four night stay at the Bon-Aire Resort, which has an excellent location on the beach, two heated pools, a tiki type bar and grill, shuffleboard courts, and some nice apartments that are reasonably priced. Jay and Joyce joined them Sunday for a very nice lunch at Crabby Bills; after which Joyce returned home while Jay stayed the next 2 1/2 days for beach fun. June was also the Match Play Tournament for Jay's Golf Group; he won second place in his division.$$

May 2023
A good month with not much to report. Jay continued his golf twice a week (where he needs a lots of improvement) and Pickleball three times a week (where his play is decent compared to others in his group of about 15 players). Joyce continued to attempt to find relief from her back pain. May 18 was the one year anniversary of the passing Jay and Ellen's Mom, who had lived to be 101. A good life; still we miss her.

April 2023
April means taxes. Of course that happens every April and they are only mentioned here because Jay finished by beating his own lifetime record - he had them finsihed three days before the due date! More important: Jay and Joyce traveled to Cape Hatteras to be at the Celebration of Life for Paul Dunn that was held on April 30th. It was a very nice event held at the Cape Hatteras Civic Center and it was evident just how everyone felt about Paul: a great man who loved his family and was a very respected fisherman in a village full of fisherman. Jay and Joyce's travel arrangements included flying out of Norfolk on May 1, and the trip was eventful that Nurse Joyce may have saved a man's life in the Atlanta Airport.

March 2023
The highlight of the month for Joyce was her winning three prestigious ribbons at the Florida Strawberry Festival with one of the ribbons being Best of Show.* This was truly an amazing success, and it reflected hours and hours and days and weeks and months of careful preparation. There is only one problem, however, the walls of her office won't fit any more ribbons from her horticulture competitions. (*Joyce also won Best of Show at the 2019 Florida Strawberry Festival.) The highlight of March for Jay and Joyce was is their trip aboard Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, which was the largest passenger ship in the world at that time. Their seven day cruise included visits to Saint Kitts and St. Thomas. And also a day at Royal Caribbean's private island CocoCay.

February 2023
This was another active month that included family and church activities, but it was also the month that Paul Dunn went to meet his Lord. He passed away about six months after he was first diagnosed with esophagael cancer that had metastasized to other parts of his body. Paul was a wonderful guy, a great husband, a super father and grandfather, and a friend of all in the Hatteras area. He will be missed.

January 2023
Whew, it seems that everyone made it through 2022 and is ready to start 2023. Looking at the calendar for January, the one with all my family notes on it that is not posted on the Web, it appears that we were certainly busy every day. But from an outside view, one of the highlights of the month for Joyce and Jay was again attending the Gasparilla Pirate Fest along Riverwalk in downtown Tampa. Once again, very enjoyable. Arrrgh!!!

Our Monthly Activities (Going Backwards) for the Following Years:

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
 
A Few Braden Family Stories
Braden Vacations and Cruises