where u at?

Dear Mom,

History repeats itself. Updated, of course. When your granddaughter Molly began driving, she had to insist you get with the program and wear a seatbelt. Once, when you didn’t want to wrinkle your dress, you pulled the seatbelt out part way and announced, “I’ll just hold it.” Molly wouldn’t start driving until you were buckled up.

Now my graddaughter Grace (Molly’s daughter and your great-granddaughter) wants me to get with the program and text. But she’s only eight, and despite the “lessons” she tries to give me, I just don’t see the point. After all, when I’m in Kansas, it’s illegal to text while driving.

Each month when Jim and I drive to Kansas, we get several texts from Molly: where u at? I leave it to father and daughter to text back and forth. But during the last two hundred miles of the trip down to Ft. Scott, I’m driving alone to visit you, Mom. We’re mother and daughter spending time together, and the rest of the family knows to call my cell phone if it’s important.

Here’s a secret just between us. Lots of times I don’t know exactly where I am during the last two hundred miles. Usually I don’t take the interstate and toll road almost to Kansas City, turn south and drive the highway on to Ft. Scott.  Mostly I drive south out of Topeka. I love the two-lane roads, the blue highways between little towns and across the plains. If the weather is good, I sometimes take side-jaunts around state parks and lakes. I’ve lived in Colorado more than two-thirds of my life, but there’s still something Kansas in me that breathes in rolling plains, growing fields, and open spaces connecting the land to the bright sky. While still loving many things about Colorado, I have to agree with Kansas’ native-son playwright, William Inge:

“A person lives in this mid-country with an inherent consciousness of the sky,” Inge wrote. “One is always aware of the sky in these states, because one sees so much more of it than in the mountainous regions where the horizons are blocked and the heavens trimmed down like a painting, to fit a smaller frame.”

It doesn’t matter which route I take, Mom, I always arrive in Ft. Scott, bringing Colorado treats and some of your favorite foods, wearing a smile and opening my arms to give you a hug. My family doesn’t text me, asking where u at? They know I’m with my mom.




Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren

10 responses to “where u at?

  1. juliabarrett

    This is so beautiful. I’m from Iowa, now transplanted to California. One thing nobody around here understands is my love of the Midwest sky, the fields of corn and soybeans and the smell of the soil. I miss it. Truly lovely post.

    • Then the William Inge quote is also about the scenery of your memories, Julia.
      For me, there is something renewing about going to Kansas, where the sunset is bright gold-orange-pink-magenta, and it lasts
      so much longer than in Colorado, where much of the sunset is swallowed by the mountains.
      Thanks for sharing your love of the Midwest sky, too.

  2. Molly

    where u at? Well I am guessing you are on Cloud 9….you just wrote ANOTHER fabulous blog…and have recently won the writing contest through one of the local colleges, AND you just had a visit from two little people (and a big people too) who all think you are the most phenomenal person and writer in the world.

    Your descriptive writing always leaves me in awe….thank you for painting a visual picture of how beautiful Kansas is. Although a Colorado native I may be, my roots run DEEP in Kansas, and I am proud to call it my home.

    But, now that we know your little secret of taking little side jonts while driving to Grandmas, we are probably going to have to implant a GPS unit into you!


    • We’ll save the GPS units for Grace and Gannon. THEY’re the ones who take off at a run and disappear. Drat. Didn’t I say in the blog that this was a secret between me and my mom? How did you find out? ;=)

  3. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Ha! I thought sure we were in for a grammar lesson. If asked that question, my mom would always reply: right between the “a” and the “t.” Good thoughts, Marylin. The grammar lesson can wait!

  4. I know, Nancy! When Molly first started writing that text, I thought that surely, with two English teacher parents, she would see the problem. I asked her why she didn’t write “Where R U?” and she (and Grace) both gave me this look like I was clueless! I’m so far behind the times, but I do love those side trips on my way to Ft. Scott!

  5. Great post Marylin, nothing like turning off the well worn road onto the side tracks of life as so much is missed as we whizz along. A bit like life really, we get so used to going down the same track every day you sometimes miss out on experiences and the same can be said for relationships.

    Talk and LISTEN to your family at every opportunity because if you don’t you miss opportunities to say the things that mean the most, when they should be said …

    but definitely no texting while driving good advice

    • I get enough of road-raging drivers on Colorado’s I-25, Tom. Taking the back roads in Kansas is a wonderful pace, plus I get great story ideas (and blog ideas) in the little towns. It’s a lot of driving each month–1,300 miles round trip–but I’ll never regret it. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
      Absolutely no texting while driving! Especially since I’m a non-texter; while I’m driving down a highway is not the time to try to learn!!

  6. My 10 yo granddaughter has a cell phone – YIKES!!!!!

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