In hindsight, there were many reasons why I moved to Kansas:
Following-of-the-heart, love, non-regrettable reasons and bio-chemical ones, too. Maybe stir in a little quantum physics, as well as faith, adventure, truth – and because I was coming home.
Kansas is a place of roots. Families begin or end here, begin and end here. Our ancestors are buried here. My ancestors are buried here.
In this photo is my great-great grandfather. He was born in Kansas, and left it, and returned. He had a peach farm in Colorado, divorced, traveled to Alaska and down the Amazon. His peaches won awards at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. He contracted some intestinal disease in South America, and he killed a monkey who bothered him at camp. He later regretted it, missing the company and the sound of the wild beast swinging in the trees.
These are the stories I remember.
He is buried in Valley Falls, Kansas. Twenty minutes from where I lived. His sister was married in Topeka, where I made home. A long lock of her blond hair marks a page in the family bible, dated 1800-something, from Marysville.
My great-great grandfather’s grave rests next to his parents, my great-great-great grandparents. Emanuel and Elizabeth, their faces hewn and stern, stuck in a time when you didn’t smile for portraits.
I visited them once, driving 20 minutes on a freeway and down a windy road. I picked wildflowers, and left them next to their headstones. Then I went to the sparse local bar. I had a Bud Light in a bottle with the old men getting off work, sharing my onion rings with them.
Our ancestors rooted together right down the road.