Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Yes, you really can go home again

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 10:00 pm | Updated: 3:44 pm, Sat May 19, 2012.

They say you can't go home again.

I know the saying has some deep, metaphorical meaning, but I've never quite understood it.

Christmas morning found me sitting with my daughter on a plane winging its way toward snowy Oklahoma. The anticipation of spending Christmas in a winter wonderland was tempered by the anxiety of knowing I had absolutely no experience driving in snow. That anxiety was compounded by the growing excitement of being able to surprise my mother and other family members.

No one knew we were coming home.

Landing safely at the Tulsa airport, we gathered our bags and jumped into the SUV I had enough foresight to rent a few days earlier. My snow-driving phobia melted as quickly as an early morning thaw and I sent heaven-bound thanks when we found the roads to be wet, but clear of snow and ice.

The surrounding countryside, magnificent in its white splendor, was simply beautiful.

Theresa Larson

My heart beat a little faster as we neared Mom's house and then pulled into her driveway.

My son Ryan and his family had driven in from Denver and he led the way, our feet making crunching noises through the snow. We walked into the house to find Mom standing in the kitchen. She turned as she heard us come in, her face first registering confusion and then surprise. Then, her face crumpled and tears flowed as she gathered me into her arms.

Who says you can't go home again?

Mom's house was instantly filled with chaos and pandemonium.

We spent the day laughing and hugging, talking and watching each other open gifts. My granddaughter Haylee toddled around the room. My heart melted when she reached her arms toward me. I gathered her up, planting kisses on her chubby cheeks.

With so many unexpected visitors, Mom fretted about having enough food to feed everyone. But just like a biblical tale, the food prepared seemed to be never-ending and everyone left the table with full bellies.

Just after Christmas, I piled my mother and daughter into the rented SUV and headed out to visit family. Two days on the road took us to the panhandle of Oklahoma and then north to Andover, Kan.

Finally heading back home to Mom's, I granted her wish of taking the back roads home, avoiding the boring drive along the turnpike.

"It takes a little longer, but we can see the countryside and then stop in some little town to get a bite to eat," she said.

The flatlands of Kansas soon gave way to the gently rolling hillsides of Oklahoma. The snow was nothing but a memory and we passed through towns that were sometimes little more than a bump in the road. Farms sporting red barns with silos and stark, weathered gray prairie houses, abandoned long ago, dotted the roadsides.

"There you go, Melissa," Mom said teasingly. "A nice little fixer-upper."

"I don't think so, Grandma," Melissa replied while rolling her eyes.

I slowed the car down as we approached another small town: Burden, Kan. Cowley County. Population 560.

A small sign on the edge of town proudly proclaimed they were regional football champs in 1987.

I spotted a simple sign outside a sandstone building reading "Cafe."

"What do you think, Mom?" I asked.

"Well, it can't be too bad. Look at all the pick-up trucks in the parking lot. I'll bet all the good-old boys eat there. Let's give it a try."

I pulled into the muddy parking lot and we walked in. The surroundings were clean and modest. Heads turned as we entered, locals taking note of the arrival of strangers. The waitress came promptly to take our order and looked surprised when I asked her which item on the menu was her favorite.

"Me? Well, we make a pretty good chicken fry."

Chicken fried steak, comfort food at its best. I had died and gone to heaven.

As we ate, I kept watch as a large table next to us began to fill. I soon realized the cafe served as the community gathering spot. Nearly a dozen people wandered in and sat down, laughing and joking with each other. The men wore cowboy hats and well-worn baseball caps. They ate dinner and discussed planting crops of corn and wheat, truck repairs, turnips and the dangers of automobile hoods flying off while driving. We eventually began to strike up a conversation with those seated at the table.

"Where are you from?" one man asked. I later learned his name was Bill Gates and he laughingly tried to link his name with Microsoft.

When we replied that we were from California, he replied solemnly, "Oh, I'm sorry." This remark, of course, provoked quite a laugh from his tablemates. But as the conversation wore on, we learned about the nature of the community - small, agriculturally based and inhabited with people who seemed to truly care about one another. It reminded me a lot of Lodi.

The family-owned "160 Cafe" was named after Highway 160 on which it sits and I was reluctant to leave. I felt so at home, I wanted to stay a little longer. Talk a little longer. Eat more chicken fry. But we had many miles ahead of us.

Rising to leave, we were wished a safe journey as we headed for the car. I sighed as we pulled away, reluctant to leave, happy to go home.

Who says you can't go home again? Not me. I can't wait to return.

Theresa Larson is the Lodi News-Sentinel's administration manager. She is married and the mother of five children. Her column appears the first and third Wednesday of the month. She can be contacted at 125 N. Church St., (209) 369-2761 or via e-mail.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 2 hours ago by Joe Baxter.

article: Letter: Vote for a better future for all

Mr. Viall, are you saying that blatant disregard for American citizen rights and the Constitution are not the stellar qualifications of a c…

More...

Posted 2 hours ago by Joe Baxter.

article: Letter: Tim Katzakian responds to Jerry…

Those that CAN, do, those that CAN'T, complain. No CHANEY for City Council signs anywhere in Lodi.

More...

Posted 3 hours ago by Robert Molle.

article: LAPD deploys fewer patrol officers than…

Race card being pulled in 3...2...1....

More...

Posted 3 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Gwin Paden: On learning Welsh, and kind…

Another wonderful article, Ms Paden. Glad you are doing well now and able to write. I also love this time of year, and your thoughts have…

More...

Posted 3 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Steve Hansen: I still vote, even though…

Good article, Mr Hansen, and accurate for the most part. Seems like every one knows the system is corrupt, but yet it goes on and on... …

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists