Home is where there is someone to love you.

~Charles Swain

I have spent the weekend in my hometown of Lee’s Summit.  When I’m here without an agenda, just to spend time with my family and visit lifetime friends, I am reminded (as I have been this trip) of how gentle life is in the old town of Lee’s Summit.  The decades-old central area of town (roughly bounded by 50 on the south and west, 291 on the east, and Chipman Road on the north) is where I went to high school, and where the church of my youth is located, and where my sister lives in the family home (the one since 1979, not the one I grew up in as a kid).  So much of my childhood took place in those environs and in the area just east of M-291 where my folks built a house in 1971.

Driving down 3rd Street after church today, and stopping by the cemetery to see my mother, I was very aware of how this town has shaped who I am and what I value.

Adding to this sense of home was my visit today with Tom Flint, a childhood friend who is now back in my life.  Tom and I each found the Episcopal way of life as adults; today we sat side-by-side at St. Mary’s Church in Kansas City.  And for a while, all felt right in the world.

I also visited today with Aunt Esther, the 99-year-old matriarch of the Gutshall clan.  She lost her primary caregiver three weeks ago when my cousin Jim died, but she’s looking forward to her 100th birthday next year, and seems to be doing well.  We had been talking today about food at the retirement home where she lives, and she was telling me that she’s unimpressed.  I asked “How’s the food?”  “Well, not very good.” (Of course, I know that she was in her time a wonderful cook, so I’m not surprised.)  At about 4.30 the announcement came through: “The dining room is open.”  I commented that it was dinnertime, and she deadpanned “So?”  I laughed quite a bit with her.

The best story of the day from Aunt Esther had to do with her ‘boyfriend.’ –

“Have I told you about my boyfriend?”  I said no and looked stunned.  “He came up to me in the dining room, brushed back my hair, and kissed me on the forehead.  Then he told me he was my student in 1937.”  Aunt Esther dug out a rolled up piece of paper, and true enough, there was her signature on the copy of an eighth-grade graduation certificate from Austin School in Cass County, dated May 1937.  She had taught this guy – now in his 80’s – when she was 25 years old.

So I’ve seen all the immediate family this trip as well – Karen yesterday for lunch, Pop and Jo today at Red Lobster for dinner (and each day at their home), Beth and Robert and the kids each day, the kids yesterday for Thor in 3-D.

And Monday will hold another joy, more of which after it happens.

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