There I am, sitting in a small rural western Kansas town. The church is at the center of this town that is about 3 blocks by 4 blocks wide. And there is a gymnasium that is on the north side of this small town. A sign of what this community used to be. There used to be a school connected to the gym but it has now turned into a parish center of the church.
Inside, the basketball goals are still there hanging, as if they are clinging onto the teams and town that gathered on Friday’s night because when you live in rural Kansas, that is what you do on Friday nights. There is a cloth poster with the names of business’s that supported the school. Many of these businesses have closed their doors now as the farming community could no longer support them.
On the old basketball floor there are rows of tables covered in white linens, old pink and blue painted liquor bottles, with large center pieces. In the middle there was two rows of barbeque. Just the type of food you expect now when you attend a family gathering.
There is a DJ in the southwest corner of the gym playing soft country music as everyone was eating the ribs that just fell off the bone. I look up from my plate, I see the wedding party at the head table. The last of my cousin’s had just been married to her high school sweetheart. I look down the table that I was sitting at, lined with my grandparents, my mom, aunts and uncles that I haven’t seen in a year, and cousins I haven’t seen in over five.
I felt at home.
There is something beautiful about a western Kansas wedding. It isn’t just the bride in her pure white dress or their first dance. (not to take anything away from a bride on her wedding day) It is the coming together of family and loved ones who haven’t had a chance to see each other for years. In our family, it has now become difficult for the cousins to gather together.
It used to be easy. Every holiday we would all gather on the farm and spend some quality time as a family. We would play board games on the dining room table while some form of sports was on the TV in the living room.
Sitting there, at that table, looking down at everyone smiling and enjoying themselves made me reminisce about those times. It may me want the Rookie to understand that this is what I consider family.
The Rookie has been so interested in things that have happened in the past. While we were at this wedding, he wondered when mommy was going to dress up in a white dress and get married. He also looked at a picture from his baptism and wondered why it wasn’t the two of us holding him and who the two people were that were holding him. It was his Godparents and we had to explain who they are and what they mean.
I want the Rookie to know where I have come from and the things that mean the most to me. I want him to understand that there is nothing more important in your life than family, no matter how far extended some of those family members are. I want him to have those childhood memories of playing with his cousins.
Those are some of the memories that I hold close to me and I hope the Rookie will hold close to him.