Being there to celebrate Tam’s 100th birthday….PRICELESS!!
This past weekend I flew to Wichita, Kansas where I met my mom and 2 sisters, who were driving from Joplin, Missouri. Our destination was Larned, Kansas, a small town in middle-western Kansas. We were going there to celebrate our dad’s cousin’s 100th birthday.
During our childhood, Tam was more like an aunt to us. It was her mother, Pearl, who raised our dad when both of his parents had passed away by the time he was 11 years old. Tam’s late son Dick was like a brother to Dad since they grew up together. So Tam and her husband Verlin of 69 years (who is 96 years old) were involved in our lives when we were young, as was their son’s family. While technically more distant cousins, Dick’s children, Holly and Mark, were as close to us as any of our first cousins.
So this celebration included all of these relatives that I hadn’t seen for 20 or more years. But the connection was still there. Several hours were spent reminiscing about trips to Kansas for Christmas or summer vacation, and the many times they all came to see us in Joplin. Precious memories were taken out of our minds and relived. Our cousin Mark, who I hung out with reading comic books, riding mini bikes, and playing piano all those years ago, had a remarkable memory for the details of our times together.
Tam was nothing short of amazing. Her mind is still sharp as she recalled things that happened when she was as young as 4 – that’s 96 years ago! Our last night there, we bombarded her with questions as we tried to sort out the tragic, yet interesting childhood our dad had experienced. Since my dad is gone, it is incredible to have someone, who knew him as a child, fill in the holes that were left in his history when he passed away.
Our “girls” trip through the small towns of Kansas was amusing. Miles and miles without another car in sight…yet roadkill every few hundred feet. I haven’t seen that many different kinds of animals in years – a deer, a raccoon, several skunks, a porcupine, and who knows what else I couldn’t identify. The scenery was a little disappointing as I was hoping for lots of fall colors. Most of the trees were green, whether from timing or type. We saw more turned trees in Wichita than anywhere else, so at least I got to see a little of the fall colors that are missing in Arizona at this time of year.
It’s times like these that I wished there were 2 of me, or that I lived closer to my childhood home. While I love having the opportunity to see my extended family, I always dread and hate leaving my husband and sons. Plus, I’m a terrible traveler and flying almost always makes me sick at some point. Guess I just need to keep hoping for that ability to teleport. In the meantime, my trips will have to be few and far between, but hopefully as memorable as this one.