We were able to catch up with Curt’s family in Nebraska (and Iowa, sort-of) last week to celebrate the 4th of July. And in addition to spending time with the Lemrick family, it was a chance to finally breathe some pollen-fresh air sans drippy noses and sneezing fits that had been plaguing our little family for the last month. Of course, Laird couldn’t help but soak up all the attention from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. For a week, he was in heaven eating cake frosting, Cali Tacos (Yum!), chips and a whole host of other things he never usually gets. Mommy is getting to be a softy.
Nebraska. If someone had told me I would end up living in Nebraska for 9 years, I probably would’ve laughed and said “no way.” What is a girl from Hawaii doing in a state so far away and so different from her home island? Not to take anything away from the midwest itself, it is a beautiful land with amazingly kind and friendly people, but if nothing else, living in Nebraska taught me that it doesn’t really matter where in the world you are, you can be happy as long as you are surrounded by good friends and family. Not only did I meet Curt there (just the day after my arrival), but also my best friends with whom I have shared some of my most memorable times with. We put up with the incredibly frigid winters, unbearably hot and humid summers, and endless acres and acres of corn, mainly because we were too busy studying, stuffing our faces with sushi, playing poker until no one cared who won (just finish the game already), gossiping and making lovingly, snide comments about each other that continue to make us laugh even now.
Going back to Omaha is always a little bittersweet for us. All of our friends have since moved away and thoughts of “this is where we always went for lunch” or “Curt, do you remember the time we….” come to mind as we drive around old stomping grounds. Thankfully, Curt’s family is here and is a reason to visit the place we once called home.
I think the highlight of the trip was visiting with Grandpa Barton. Having been moved to a nursing home a few months prior, due to dementia and physical deterioration, I had been told he has good days and not-so-good days. The latter being days that are spent mostly in bed, with little to no conversation or wakefulness. After experiencing dementia with both my grandparents, I came prepared for the worst. Amazingly, though, he was not only awake, but he also laughed, smiled and spoke. Not surprisingly, he even shared his two bowls of ice cream with Laird (and Curt). It really was the Grandpa Barton I have known and loved all these years, minus the walking and story telling. I’m not sure what was in the air that day, maybe it was Laird’s youthful energy or just seeing familiar (but not too familiar) faces, but he was nearly his old self and nothing could beat the smile on his face.
About the Missouri River flooding in Curt’s hometown of Percival, Iowa that I wrote about before. The day I left to meet up with Curt and Laird in Nebraska, as feared (but not unexpected), a levee just north of the town broke and essentially “opened the floodgates” to more water. Curt, his dad and Laird had just been on the levee two days earlier surveying the elevated river and surrounding flooding. Thankfully it hadn’t broke then. We drove down again to Percival 5 days after the levee had broken and were met with road blockings that hadn’t been there earlier. Disregarding the road block sign (oh so rebellious we are), we were able to get within a mile north of Curt’s old house, his grandparents’ and cousin’s houses. Floodwaters had completely washed out a couple roads inundating corn and bean fields and aerial photographs revealed water nearly up to the doors of their houses and the road fronting them also submerged. No one knows how bad this flooding will get (hopefully no worse), so please continue to pray for their homes, livelihood and faith.