A Memory-Building Detour – Creating, Reviewing, Protecting Legacy!

Posted by on Nov 29, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Memory-Building Detour – Creating, Reviewing, Protecting Legacy!

Today I struggled to come out of a fog. I had a nap—longer than I intended. I bolstered myself with a touch more caffeine. Still, I needed something. So, I put on some baroque music and the constantly moving lines of the pieces start to wake up my brain. On the counter I spotted the tea cups I brought home with me from our recent trip. Ah, yes. A cup of tea. Just the thing. I smiled as I poured the water over the tea bag. This cup will always be a special memory of our detour to see cousins.


Usually, when we come home from South Dakota we shoot east and drop down through Chicago, or at Sioux Falls drop down to Kansas City. This time we chose to come back through Nebraska and Kansas.


In Nebraska I had two goals; the first was a stop in North Platte to research the next Double Cousins mystery. The other was a visit with my cousin Gordon and his wife Jan at their ranch.

photo (6)

Something about that ranch fills a hole in my heart. The hole left when Grandpa moved off the ranch? Maybe. The hole left when Grandpa died? I’m not sure. But what I know is that their hospitality is a challenge and a blessing to me each time I am there. Their love for the stories of our elders, the details of the history of our family, and determination to leave a godly legacy for the children remind me so much of Grandpa and Grandma Jones. And, well . . . there is the fact that Gordon is a horse man, through and through, just like Grandpa, AND the fact that his ranch is right in the place that Grandpa loved more than any other, the Sandhills of Nebraska. We stayed at their home one night.


First we met in Gordon, NE, for pizza before Jan went to work the night shift at the hospital where she is a nurse. (Yes, my cousin Gordon lives outside of Gordon, Nebraska—how cool is that?)  While Jan worked, Gordon, Bruce, and I spent the evening talking about family history:  Gordon found another barn built by our great-grandpa Jones, memories of our grandparents, Grandma’s ability to do what she wanted without making a scene, and the project at hand, the re-publishing of Grandpa Jones’ books.

me and Jan

By the time Jan got home in the morning, Gordon had decided he needed to get on the road with some cattle he was moving. A storm was coming. We ate a quick breakfast—delicious cinnamon buns—and Gordon was out the door, a bit ahead of us.


A quick visit, but what great memories. I wish I had taken a picture of Gordon and Bruce talking politics the night before, but I didn’t . You’ll have to imagine that!

Gordan and Trigger with Windmill

From there we drove to North Platte where I lived as a child and where Carly, one of the “double cousins”, lives with her family. I’ll write more about that for a later post, but we spent the night there and got out just before the brunt of the storm. We drove through wind and rain to Kansas for another “cousin fix.”


Nearly 60 years ago now, my dad’s younger sister married a boy from Kansas. They had eight children. We laugh that Grandpa couldn’t understand it. After all, when he left Kansas in a covered wagon 102 years ago at the age of eight, he had no intention of ever going back. “Why would ANYONE want to live in Kansas?” was his motto. But love will do that to you!


Phyllis welcomed us to her home and we slid into our easy more-like-a-sister-than-a-cousin relationship. It was Phyllis that used to meet Cheryl and me at Grandma’s house where we would work on the family cookbook, cook for Grandma, and make memories. Phyllis helped me pack my house twice, once when I was getting married, and again when we packed up the house in Newberry.

alice and phyllis

Phyllis and her sister Alice encouraged me to come to the Christian school at their church. They wanted the children there to hear my presentations. Oh what fun! For one thing, I’ve never given the presentation in Kansas, and since I talk about grandpa leaving Kansas as a child, it was such a full-circle moment. Besides, Alice’s two youngest were there. They heard stories of their mom and great-grandparents. And then there is the fact that Alice and Phyllis are both cousins who were at the ranch with us when we were kids. A bit of them is in my mysteries. It is their story too.


One afternoon their sister Linda, the oldest girl cousin, came over. She has been faithfully working on getting Grandpa’s books ready for re-publishing. She passed the baton to Bruce and we discussed the process. It was a committee meeting in two easy steps. Step one at Gordon’s house, step two at Phyllis’s house.


While at Phyllis’s house I saw these old tea cups in the cupboard. I complimented her on them. “Do you want them? I don’t really care for them.” Before I had the word “yes” out, Phyllis was wrapping them up. She was always fast with dishes.

teacupSo now, as I sit here on this gloomy Sunday afternoon listening to Vivaldi, I can sip tea from a cup and remember a few days of memory bridge building. For, that’s what we were doing:  building bridges from past memories to the future through creating new memories, reviewing the memories of the past, and planning how to protect and re-publish Grandpa’s memories. Hopefully for the younger cousins it was a lesson in the value of family connections. What went before does matter, and we hope what we are doing will matter for those to come!


We’ve just had Thanksgiving. Perhaps you heard some new stories. Write them down! And make a plan for Christmas. Spend some memory bridge building moments with your family. You won’t regret it. Not one bit!


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  1. Deanna Klingel

    Lovely memories to linger on until you meet again. I’d love to have a reunion with my cousins.