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The Cody Blog: Goin back to Kansas, to Kansas, to Kansas. Hunh, I don't think so.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Goin back to Kansas, to Kansas, to Kansas. Hunh, I don't think so.

Kansas was great. But it wasn't the same without Grandma, the only grandparent I ever knew -- my mom's mom who had spent almost all of her adult life in tiny little Madison, KS.

We'd made annual road trips to Kansas my whole life as a kid. And my parents and I had used each of our own hard-earned money to send me to basketball camp a few summers in a row when I was in elementary school. It's where I stole the line when someone asks me "what's your range on the basketball court? 20', 25'?" and I answer, "Two court lengths, man. Two court lengths." Maybe that line is only funny to a 12 year old. Doesn't stop me from using it to this day though.

My favorite trip to Kansas is probably actually the worst trip we ever had as a family. At some point on the drive from NM to KS, my brother had talked his way into playing some silly football tag game on the van's couch that my sister loved for me to play gently with her to pass the time. The very first play with my brother resulted in my head shattering the side window and my brother catching me by my belt buckle as we drove down some lonely highway at 65 mph. He pulled me back in, but my head was all bloodied (and still scarred from it) and my father was pissed. A few backhands for the sons later and we finally drove onto some dive hotel to recoop.

The van's battery was dead the next morning of course. Two days later I was going deep for a hail mary in a game of football when I tripped over a golden retriever who had come out of nowhere to play cornerback. Head into frozen ground. Yup, you guessed it. Concussion.

Anyway, a few years back, Grandma had just recently moved into a old folks' home in Emporia, KS. I hadn't seen her for several years, so I bought a ticket to go surprise visit her for Thanksgiving in 2000. The day I was leaving my parents called to say that they were heading up to surprise my grandma for Thanksgiving --- total coincidence!

It was a wonderful visit and while the rest of my family went to some sort of college sporting event (later this week, I'll write about how last week I watched my first college hoops game since the day I walked up the ramp at the Pit for the last time in 1995, but that's a different topic...again), I spent all of one afternoon and night playing Scrabble against my grandma.

I won like 2 out of 12 games. And I found the roots of my hoops-trash-talking extravaganzas, as Susie laid me out with a verbal assault that would make Jordan blush. Everytime she and I talked after that, she teased me about wasting me in Scrabble.

Grandma died just a few months later. I'm so happy that I'd snuck down there to see her, to bond with her and to spend some time with Grandma.

And while I'll always associate riding in a van, playing in corn silos, hunting pheasants (as opposed to peasants), the smell of old stairwells (from playing in the dorms during basketball camp) and so many other little things with Kansas --- the place, the feeling, the trip will never be the same without my grandma, Susie. I miss her.


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