This is the home where Steve’s family has lived since he was in middle school.
And this last full week in April saw Steve and I going back to his home town, Newton, KS, for a wonderful visit with family and lifelong friends. Meanwhile, our first born was making final arrangements to go forward with his new life in Albuquerque, NM. Needless to say, it has been a full week.
We are both very proud of Matt, as his move comes from a promotional opportunity in his career. And we are also very happy seeing how excited he is to move on to this next chapter. Obviously, as parents, those feelings are bittersweet as we accept that our young man is no longer going to be just down the road from us.
So, our little family gathered for my pot roast meal with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread last night. After spending the night in his old room, Matt left bright and early this morning having hugged the dogs and his parents good-bye.
I’m just going to have to make frequent trips to Albuquerque to get my fill of this handsome face.
So right now, I prefer to think about the great visit we had in Kansas.
That’s our rental car in the driveway of Steve’s childhood home, where his widowed dad (I call him Pops), who will be 80 next month, still lives.
This visit home was made very special the day we arrived when both of our nieces came by with their young families (one made the trip from Kansas City), to show us a welcome. We have two grandnieces and one grandnephew. It’s so heartwarming to see the fourth generation between those walls and playing in the front yard.
And the next day, two of our very favorite people arrived from the Kansas City area to spend time with us. This couple is special to us for many reasons. You see, Gary grew up with Steve. They’ve known each other since boyhood, and Gary was the best man at our wedding. Kathy was my college roommate and maid of honor. We got together and did what we usually do…eat and laugh. When we weren’t eating, Kathy and I were beating the guys in a game of pitch. In college, Kathy and I used to beat everyone when playing as partners in pool. We’re kinda hard to beat, just ask our guys. 🙂
We also spent time with several of Steve’s home town friends and his cousin and his cousin’s wife. It felt so good to reconnect and we so appreciated how everyone made time and went out of their way for us.
So, Pops often had a houseful, which I think suited him just fine.
When it was just the three of us, Pops took us fishing. We all caught a few, including my decent-sized channel cat and Steve’s impressive bass. It was catch and release.
Then on Wednesday, we decided to explore the small town of Newton. It was windy, cool, and cloudy, so fishing was out.
We spent quite a bit of time at Meridian Grocery because Steve and I had never been there before.
It’s a quaint little distressed groceries store where they make their own baked goods and German sausage.
These lovely ladies kept Steve and Pops out of trouble with fishing stories while I walked the store taking pictures.
Then we drove around town to see some of Steve’s history. For instance, this is the house Pops and Rita were renting when Steve was born.
And quite literally behind it is this house, which is the first home they owned.
We were told that Lincoln Elementary, where Steve attended school, has now been converted into apartments.
And this is St. Mary’s Church, where Pops and Rita, Steve’s sister Sue, and then Steve and I were married.
And in addition to the old, Steve’s home town also boasts some thriving new businesses. Including Back Alley Pizza, a relatively new place where we had some amazing personal brick oven pizzas for lunch.
And then it was time to go back to the house, because our tummies were stuffed.
At the house, I had to get a picture of the mulberry tree. My mother-in-law loved this tree to the point that she would not allow anyone to trim it, as evidenced by the stained driveway where the tree limbs and fruit fell on the concrete.
Our niece, Amanda, makes jam from the fruit. You can see this year’s crop just starting to emerge. There are going to be a lot of berries this year. They’ve had a lot of rain in Newton this Spring.
We had a wonderful visit with Pops, family, and friends. And then it was time to come home.
Thursday morning saw us landing back in Phoenix, picking up the dogs from boarding, going home, and doing laundry.
Friday saw us sharing the last family dinner for a while with our two boys.
This morning saw us hugging our Matt-man goodbye. I got a little weepy. I struggled to write this post about our lovely time in Kansas.
Then in the middle of this writing, the phone rings with Matt’s number on the display. I no sooner answer than he is regaling me with stories of hail and then snow after he crossed the border into New Mexico. His lighthearted chatter brought a smile to my face and reminded me that Steve and I have lived several adventures. He’s just starting his own. And I am really happy for him.
Mary Tappe says
Loved this post! You really are a wonderful writer, I didn’t want this to end. I want to read more about Newton, what a quaint little spot to escape to. I grew up with 3 mulberry trees in our backyard here in Phoenix, but they must have been males because there was never any fruit. My parents probably knew that down the line there would be that one kid of theirs who loved climbing trees and probably would have gotten sick from eating too many mulberries. Thank you Lori.
You are so sweet, Mary. I wrote from the heart. Steve’s parents took me in when we first started dating, as if I was one of their own. His family history means a lot to me, given that my own is so scattered over two countries. I love the years of history that comes with his heritage, including his home town and the precious friends that made up his youthful world.
Karen Jessen says
Lori, You painted such a clear picture of a quaint hometown, special people, deep emotions, and lives surrounded by love. I enjoyed every word.
It makes me happy, Karen, to know that I might have successfully conveyed what inspired me to write this post, but even happier to know that others can relate. It gives me a wonderful sense of community. Thank you for taking the time to comment and letting me know.
Edward Casey says
Lori , you definitely wrote from the heart, and I loved reading this latest blog. My oldest will be graduating College this year, and my younger Son will be graduating HS. Long story short my Wife and I will be empty nesters…
I will need your advice and Steve’s , so that my Wife does not kill me…;-)
Congrats to Matt for getting promoted so soon, proud to hear that news.
Love you guys, Edward
Thanks, Edward! Matt will see your good wishes on this, but I’ll let him know as well. Empty nesting pulls at the heartstrings sometimes, but like everything else in life, there are a couple of silver linings. I’m sure you guys will be just fine, with no dire consequence to your physical safety. 🙂 And let me know when you guys are ready so I can have you to the house and cook for you. You know how I love to do that! <3
Matthew Kemph says
Thanks for the shout out! Love ya!