And Many More

The skies were clear, the roads were busy, and there were wonderful highway patrol folks every whipstitch along the way which kept the speeds at a live-able if not a bit frustrating limit, but the trip home was a best memory to keep. I didn’t have opportunity to meet any of the HP folk personally, that was helpful, and I suppose the slower speeds allowed me to enjoy how green everything remains these two days before the official start of summer. While most summers we pray for rain, this year the amounts, even in the areas that have not had catastrophic flooding, have made farm life more difficult and delayed the planting and growing and harvesting of crops.

Max the dog and my presence brought on wins for both great-nephew’s summer baseball teams last Thursday night. For one of the teams, not anything new; for the other, it was quite close to the miraculous. I was therefore dubbed the favorite great-Aunt on their grandmother’s side – of course, I’m the ONLY great-aunt on their grandmother’s side – but that only slightly tilts my symbolic tiara and the power of my golden scepter of old lady hugs and kisses.

Max experienced no small amount of spoilage – sleeping on the best couches, experiencing long walks through buffalo grass and fields of mown alfalfa, for some reason his favorite, and peeing on every tree and fencepost he could find. He was quite intrigued by the neighbor’s horses next door, they less so with him. And then there was the afternoon with the 3 great-nephews who are allowed to do their version of MMA wrestling in their grandma’s basement on a mattress placed in the center of the floor. The object is to knock the opponent off the mattress first. Max simply believed he was supposed to jump on all of them during the match on the mattress, after one had been knocked off, and then running upstairs to tattle on all of us for rough-housing and “allegedly” doing front flips from the bounce on the mattress which I might have found out wasn’t really supposed to be allowed. What are great-aunts for if not to bend the rules a bit?

We had an outdoor lunch at a place called the Hammond-Hut in Long Island, Kansas, (yes, there is a Long Island, KS as well as that other one in NY). I believe the ‘Hut could be featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diner’s, Drive-ins, and Dives,” not because it’s any one of those things, but because the food is simply great and the ice-cream to die for. While sitting at the picnic table up came my grade school music teacher become my high school English teacher. She looked at me, I looked at her, and thank heavens after 39 years, she was willing to smile. I might’ve been the kid who would wait as the bell rang for class until the second before it stopped to cross the threshold into the room. Tardiness was a “thing” with her – back then I enjoyed the game, now I wonder how she didn’t simply slap me. I did tell her I can still diagram a sentence with the best of them – I hope that made her sorta forget the other stuff. The food arrived for the rest of the table without my Hawaiian pizza being delivered – I didn’t particularly notice I was so busy talking, go figure. My sister turned to my youngest great-nephew and asked why he wasn’t eating his chicken strips, in fact hadn’t even opened the lid (they’re delivered in containers to take with in case you’ve simply paused in the midst of working in the field) and he said he was waiting for his great Aunt to get her food. Be still my beating heart – I know, right? He’s 9. May be a little good parenting going on there – or he’s got his eye on my Ford Edge in case I die soon. JK!!! snort

Finally came the 65th wedding Anniversary and celebration. I looked on Pinterest and it doesn’t have what kind of thing you’re supposed to receive for that year of anniversary. 50th Anniversaries are gold, but evidently after that it’s simply ‘good for you for surviving this long. I took it as the reason to announce to them that I was their present and not to expect anything else. Parents perspective was why should this year be any different? WHAAAAAAT?!!? snort My mom was able to produce a picture of she and my Dad on their wedding day. The albums were lost in the fire but my grandparents gave them the few they had. Those same little great-nephews struggled a bit to believe the two people in the picture were their great-grandparents. I found out my mother’s wedding dress had been made by her sister-in-law’s mother, of satin and other materials of which I cannot remember of words I’d not previously heard. Plus she created it without a specific pattern, and they were married in 1954 – so there were no youtube or pinterest videos of instruction for her to follow. It sorta makes my brain bleed a little trying to imagine how all that happened. Plus I also learned my mom’s best friend was allowed to be in the wedding but was not allowed to be her maid of honor because she was Catholic and it was not a Catholic wedding. We humans have been our imperfectly human selves for a very long time – our need to divide and separate over differences in our doctrine about the “right” ways to believe in God are rather amazing and quite long-standing. I knew that, but for it to be so matter of factly stark caught me by surprise I guess.

Anyway, here’s to a little taste of summer from the heartland this week. You have them too. Family reunions, catching up with old friends, alumnae banquets, summer camp reminiscences, vacations to take and ones that will live in infamy remembered annually for years. And what does all that mean for us with the kind of value that we make time for it summer after summer after summer? I think It reminds us who we are. Somehow remembering the places and the people from which we’ve come re-settles us into a foundation that moves beyond what we do, what we have or will accomplish, and whatever the world tells us is success or failure. We all come from lifetimes of people and experiences that impact us in ways that offer opportunities for strength, for laughter and joy, for some heartache, and hopefully for a recognition that we can choose to come to peace and acceptance in a way that makes us humbly sensitive, generously compassionate, and finally grateful for the grace allowing us to survive together.

I don’t know if Moom and Dude will have another 65 years together, I’m certainly up for it. I just saw on FB this morning that there’s a turtle that has lived 186 years, so . . . But whether it’s another 10 or 20 or 50 or 65, I’m happy they allowed us to celebrate this one and to recognize that in their years we have all received oh so many gifts to treasure. And don’t tell Brookeville, but my mom’s fried chicken and cream gravy bests theirs by a long shot!!! Just sayin