One great feature of the trip is crossing different portions of the Flint Hills, which have a haunting, timeless feel all their own. We recalled the night we drove from Emporia to El Dorado through a legendary lightning storm, something I'd been hoping would happen. Afterwards, I hoped it never happens to us again!
By late Friday afternoon, we were in western Kansas, with Uncle Ronald and the Shumate cousins. I walked out on the front porch in the evening, just to soak in the quiet and deep stillness, and watch the treeless horizon. I went out again at midnight for more quiet, and to look at the stars, so bright in that inky nighttime sky.
In typical Kansas fashion, the temperature on Friday had been around 87 degrees. On Saturday it was more like 35 degrees, with sustained winds all day and all night of oh, I would say, 40 mph. We stayed in and listened to it blow. Whistle and howl, that is. It was the weekend, and we were about eight miles from town, with knock-you-down winds and nothing else important to do. So we drank coffee and broke bread and talked. The three kids who are still at home drifted in and out. We looked at photos and told stories and got caught up.
We time travelled through experiences from thirty, forty and fifty years back. We spoke of things going on right now, and how we envision the future. Sometimes I think that is exactly what this time of life is for. My cousin Randy and his wife Shelly are at that stage where their children are getting married and having children of their own. Like ours. Uncle Ronald, at age eighty-seven, is alert and engaged, telling his own version of some of the stories, giving us his perspective, and all the time loving us. And we love him.
We talked for a day and a half, and I could use more. But my three favorite lines from the whole visit are:
Jack: "I'm really glad I came."
Randy: "It's good we're cousins."
Uncle Ronald: "I will see you again."
He looked straight into my eyes when he said it.
"I know it," I told him.