Remember the rides we used to take, Mom?  I’d arrive from Colorado and you and I would “go drivin’” somewhere.  We’d go south, almost to Pittsburg, turn and go east to eat at Chicken Annie’s, and then carry home the leftovers.  You said if we got lost, we wouldn’t starve.

Another favorite drive was east to Nevada, Missouri, to visit the beautiful red brick and white trimmed buildings on the campus of Cottey College.  We’d have tea and talk about the projects of our PEO chapters that contributed to many of Cottey’s programs.

On other drives we visited local nurseries, and you walked among the rows of flowers and plants, identifying most of them by name.  One day, as we returned via back roads after an outing, you pointed toward a grove of pecan trees and reminded me of the times we carried sack lunches and went pecan gathering with friends.

That was years ago.  Now, if we take a ride, we stay in Ft. Scott.  A few months ago, when the weather was nice, we drove by Ft. Scott Community College. You remembered when the college was much smaller, and for awhile your writing group met in the lobby of one of the dorms.  Later, we took our usual drive to the cemetery, stopping by Dad’s gravesite and headstone.  When we drove away, just around the bend was a large polished marker, and you asked if we knew who was buried there.

I reminded you that it was not a grave, but a life marker for Gordon Parks, author of THE LEARNING TREE, the book (and movie) based on his life growing up in Ft. Scott.  As I read aloud his message of “Homecoming,” you listened.  Then you surprised me by remembering our drive around the community college, saying, “Didn’t we see something else about him?”

As I reminded you of our drive that day, I realized the many connections.  The message in the marker was connected to the art and writing and photography on display at the Gordon Parks Center for Culture and Diversity, which showed how his influence connected with people and places well beyond his Kansas roots. Parks inspired many people all over the world, including CNNs Anderson Cooper, who called Parks his hero, the man responsible for his spark about reporting.  You smiled when I told you that, asking if that Cooper was related to our neighbors.  I said I didn’t think so, but you did know the executive director of the Gordon Parks Center,Jill Warford, the daughter of your dear friend from church, Beth Warford Robinson.  And the Gordon Parks Center is housed in the Danny and Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center, and Danny and Willa were close friends with you and Dad.  Their daughter, my friend in junior high and high school, died in 1997 of breast cancer, and in her memory the Kathy Ellis Academic Hall was built.

Mom, you always said that our lives connect with everyone else’s lives, so what we did…or didn’t do, made a difference.  Like throwing rocks in a pond, we had to be careful of how hard and where we threw them, because they wouldn’t just sink to the bottom.  They made ripples, which made more ripples…

Thanks, Mom, for leaving a lifetime of ripples that make the world a better place.

Love, Marylin


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren

18 responses to “IT’S ALL CONNECTED

  1. Oh wow, great post. Great reminder, too, that none of us is as alone or isolated as we might sometimes believe. Thanks.

  2. Molly

    Mom….the way you write is so phenomenal …the way you tie and connect things is so amazing. Thank you for creating these stories for your grandchildren! This will be a priceless gift for them. 🙂

    • They have an amazing Mor-Mor-Mor, and I want them to know and appreciate her as she once was, as well as the sweet little old woman she is now, even if she can’t remember very much. Thanks for keeping Grandma real to them. You’re an excellent “Mor” (mom)!

  3. Marylin,
    You are so right…we are all connected…more or less. Glad it’s a case of more with you…so happy to be able to read your posts.

  4. Thanks, Vivian. I really enjoyed your recent blog on music as the shorthand of emotion. Nicely done. And congratulations on your
    2011 TOP BLOG WIKI MOMMY award!

  5. Another lovely post. I love hearing about your mom.

    Thank you for sharing

    • And I always learn new things from you. I’m still processing the Kabbulistic essay, can’t stop thinking about it. But it’s something I probably won’t try to discuss with my mom, especially the barbed wire.

  6. Nancy Gibbs

    So glad, Marylin, you have continued in your mother’s tradition of gathering writers at the table. Your ripples ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at!

  7. Had a rubbish week, thanks to you and your Mom for making me smile XX

  8. Enjoyed your blog…your rides go to areas I know and live near right now. Love that Pittsburg chicken!

    • I’d ask which chicken you like better, Chicken Annie’s or Chicken Mary’s, but it might start a fight. A food-based Civil War. And Kansas has already been called Bloody Kansas over slavery, so we won’t start another fight over Annie’s or Mary’s. (Did you know that the granddaughter of one married the grandson of the other? Hmm…wonder if the great-grandchildren take turns going to each place to eat Sunday dinner?)

  9. Sarah Emerson

    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog! I grew up in Pittsburg and your reminiscing about Chicken Annies made my mouth water! Many memeories flooded my brain, and I could see my family going to Chicken Annie’s after church on Sunday. Thank you!

  10. Donovan Tucker

    Interesting, but even though a majority of us are connected somehow there’s going to be those that are completely unaffected by what you’ve done…no matter if you’ve met them or not. Not to say I don’t like the way this is written, or what’s written within it, but it’s impossible to just say everyone. Stepping away from that for a second to say excellent post!

    • Interesting, Donovan. You’re probably right. But the longer I live–and I’m also amazed about how this has worked in my 93-year-old mother’s life–the more I witness the surprising “7-degrees-of-separation” that include us all…er, at least most of us. The very good things we do, as well as very bad things, have a scope of influence we may not even imagaine.
      Thanks for another perspective.

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