Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Visit to Kansas

I grew up in Kansas.  I was born in Lawrence, and lived the first 43 years of my life in that area, mostly in Topeka, until we moved to San Antonio in 1997.  Now that my mother is gone, I don't travel up there as much as before but I try to make a trip once a year.
One of my primary goals for my short trip to Kansas was to visit my dear friend, Pauline.  Pauline turned 100 years old on April 22nd along with her twin brother, who lives in Salina with is 105 year-old wife!
Pauline has failed a great deal recently, having fractured a hip the day after her birthday.  She was a career librarian with the American Library Association, a voracious reader, and a wonderful friend and advocate for my mother at the end of her life.  I have accompanied Pauline on two Elderhostel trips:  one to Seattle to see the art glass scene (even getting a tour of Dale Chihuly's home!), and one trip through the San Juan Islands, Victoria, and Vancouver BC.  Her memory has begun to fail her.  I really didn't know what to expect today when I prepared to visit her.
This photo was taken last year.  I drove Pauline to Salina to visit her brother, Paul.
Kansas Prairie grass
Pauline and I always drive the Skyline Parkway.
Pauline grew up in this area and we love to see it any time of year, but especially early summer!

Yes, Virginia, the buffalo still roam out here.
Just not very many of them.....

Pauline today
She enjoyed looking at photos on my ipad!
What a privilege to have such a friend as Pauline.
I don't think she recognized me when I arrived, but she had moments of clarity.   I do think she remembered me, eventually.  She seemed to phase in and out of that clarity throughout our visit.  I am so glad I spent time with her today.  She is an absolute treasure.

On my way out of town I drove by our old houses as well as the house I grew up in.  It was a bittersweet experience.  For the first time, I felt somewhat disoriented by the city I grew up in:  little subtleties in the environment that sort of threw me off.  It is strange to see all the trees I planted around the last house I owned at full maturity, knowing I could peer over the tops of them all when they were first there!
My last Kansas home (and trees!)
My "brick" installed in front of the Amelia Earhart birthplace museum in Atchison, Kansas.
Amelia was the first president of the Ninety Nines;  I am a member of the NE Kansas Chapter.


  1. What a wonderful, emotional trip for you. I'm in awe of your beautiful friend and the descriptions of your memories. Sometimes it makes my head spin when I think how fast life is passing by. Thank you for sharing.

  2. So true, Dion. It is astonishing how quickly the time passes.


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