Two August weeks in 104-degree temperatures outside Wichita, KS seemed a poor swap for beach breezes along Kona’s coast, but I was overdue for a visit with daughter, Janet, and family. She, Grant (19), and Ethan (16) have summer birthdays, along with me (can’t remember!), and hometown friends kept calling to see when I was returning to Fredonia. I booked United, steadily improving in service recently. I flew Kona-to-Denver and got on stand-by to arrive in Wichita three hours earlier than scheduled. Movies were free, so I caught “Lion” between snoozes.
Grant loped in and cleared a place his white Taurus. He talked about the coming diploma for engineering tech and hopes of Associates in Mechanical Engineering in December, then suggested lunch. At Sutter’s 10 acres, everything looked green. Janet’s woodworking shop had added a second metal structure, and Ethan was cooking a pizza on a countertop oven. I chose a dip in their pool before a nap. Bowls adorned my bedroom shelves.
Minty, KC friend, drove 2 hours south for Stearman’s burgers and a swim next day. The small plane airport’s fan blades reached almost to the four walls. We looked up the 4-digit price online. Evening cooled, so we walked Larry-the-Labradoodle on gravel roads and watched “Blue Bloods”. Tom Selick had left Hawaii for NYC, I found. It’s habit-forming, that police family!
Enterprise rented me a metallic blue Focus across from Brian’s workplace, and I set out for 3 Kansas City days. Everything flowed over long visits–Joan bought me birthday brunch at redecorated LePeep’s, I found (4 pairs) sandals not available in Kona, Georgia and Dick hosted me with Judi bringing deviled eggs for her birthday dinner. I joined Helen for lunch, Ruby for a foot massage and catch-up (plus a note to Mailyn, just widowed), and Cheddar’s dinner with Charlie and Colleen, Mike and Lisa, and Jo and Bill (first time met). More catch up! They suggested a discussion class next morning before Prairie Baptist service. Lots of lively questions and opinions about justice, politics, accepting others, feeding and housing new people, and now-white haired familiar faces.
Safely 250 miles south near Wichita, we made plans to meet OK sister, Gayla, at Penny’s Diner in Wellington. Railroad Museum, Chisholm Trail Museum (three floors that looked strangely familiar from childhood days), and Depression Glass Museum (a nice surprise) filled our day, with wooly mammoth bones surprising us in the courthouse. Little towns try hard to keep their heritage alive in the Midwest, a good thing for us. Ethan took it all in, went back to games on his phone, and asked for Sumo’s for a birthday dinner.
Janet (conductor at Train Museum) invited an ex-colleague and kids out to swim the next day, and we told her how one of their Alternative School grads had shrimp, chicken, and fried rice at Sumo’s with us. Small world, chance meetings happen in KS’ largest city. We met another teacher for Mexican food and saw “Dunkirk”, a story of common people doing the life-saving, right thing.
Sailing Cheney Lake didn’t happen, since Sunday weather turned windy and rainy. We met Texie and Bill at Le Monde (worldwide cuisine) and warmed to the story of a facebook request to boycott the Muslim restaurant followed by Wichita customers turning out in large numbers to eat there ever since. I’ll go back!!
Ivan, also class of ’56 grad, took me to the Rib Crib and “Wonderwoman” (surprisingly enjoyable, this one!) and suggested we drive to hometown Fredonia. His older brother-in-law was killed in a collision, so it became an important trip to sit with four bereaved generations. We also visited briefly with an ex-sis-in-law who had been hospitalized 31 days and was gaining health back. Another stop let us deliver a walnut bowl to friends who had given Janet much wood for her after-school lathe-turning club. Why did everyone else’s hair turn white? Are they shrinking? Is it my memory or aging?
An I-35 tollbooth worker asked me, “Aren’t you afraid to live in Hawaii now?” I joked, “Aren’t you afraid you’re watching too much news?” Back home in HI, I sang in choir as we buried friend Kayoko, a beautiful hula dancer, grandmother, and church member. Today’s sermon reminded us that fear can make us unrecognizable to those who love us. Love seems the restorative word needed day-to-day and across the world. I certainly experienced it in KS and again, as I sat with birthday friends at breakfast at king’s view, across from the statue. I love this interesting, imperfect world on both sides of the Pacific!