Texas, Texas, and More Texas

My dad passed away on February 23, one day after his 90th birthday. His health had been in decline, so his death was not a surprise. He was suffering from dementia and all of its complications. The earliest signs of the disease go back nearly five years. Perhaps smoking finally caught up with him. He began his habit at age 11 and by the time he was 13 he was a regular. This is a picture of my dad, my mom, and me on their wedding day, December 27, 1953. I was four years old.

            My dad’s celebration of life, or whatever you call these things, was held in Denton, Texas on March 10, 2021. About 60 folks were in attendance, a pretty good turnout for a guy who had outlived almost all of his best friends. It was a serious affair which would not have been to my dad’s liking had he a say so in the program. There was a preacher who didn’t seem to know my dad at all, followed by four speakers. My younger sister arranged the entire event, meaning that I was not invited to speak. She was the last speaker. At the 30 minute mark of her brief comments a young woman who was standing behind my sister, a long story here, turned a bit gray, began to appear wobbly, and passed out. My sister continued to speak. The young woman recovered, my sister finally stopped speaking, and it was over. I am sure my dad was happy that it had ended.

            My dad’s passing has resulted in three trips back to the Lone Star state to resolve a few issues. In addition to the production in March, I was back in late May and early June, with one more visit likely in late July. Janet and I own 7/9ths of the house that my dad had lived in for the last 20 years and we are preparing it for sale. How does one end up owning 7/9ths of a house or anything else? Another long story.

            Two of the trips, the ones in March and May, were made in our Sienna. It’s a long ride from Omaha to Dallas with only two options if you don’t want it to take a lot longer. The first option is to drive south from Omaha through southeast Nebraska to Topeka. At that point you jump on the Kansas Turnpike and drive as fast as possible to southern Kansas. Then it’s the 35, I-35, south through Oklahoma City, Sanger, Denton, and Dallas. The second option involves taking the 80 west through Lincoln and on to York, Nebraska. From there, it’s straight, well almost straight, south on Highway 81 to Salina, Kansas where the 81 turns into the 135. The 135 intersects with the 35 north of Wichita and the same route found in Option 1 is followed from there on out. Yikes, 660 miles or so along side a lot of lunatics who are texting, watching movies, and otherwise being distracted. It usually takes a few hours, and perhaps an adult beverage or two, to stop vibrating when it’s over.

            In June it was back to the friendly skies and the relatively short hop from Omaha to Dallas Love Field. Air travel has picked up markedly in the last 60 days, much faster than industry experts projected. While Omaha Eppley Airfield is still down in passenger count, some flights are full and overbooked. My late morning Sunday flight to Love Field was packed, “Spam in a can” to borrow a phase from The Right Stuff. The gate areas for Southwest were abuzz, folks lining up 20 minutes early just like in the old days. The only difference? Masks. No one was complaining about lost liberty, no flight attendants were punched, and overall folks were happy to be traveling at all. I was too. And, the twelve-foot Texas Ranger statue is gone, sent off to a secret storage unit. He first showed up in 1963. It was past time for him to go.

            We have made excellent progress toward getting the house ready for sale. The carpet and  Pergo floor has been replaced by a composite faux wood material that has the look and feel of a classy-looking product. The walls have been repainted, helping to send the stale smoke smell down the road. A bit of patching and painting on the exterior finished the job. It’s a hot market. We expect the house to sell quickly.

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