On To Oklahoma and Kansas – #271 – (2009)

Chris & Marlo

Rob, Gary’s son putting the pedal to the metal,  the crew cab Ford pickup radar detector on guard duty,  the 200 miles of Interstate 35 route to Edmond Oklahoma, normally a 3 hour journey captured in far less time.  Dad and Grandma Willson, along with Nancy, Rob’s soon to be wife,  on their way  to Gary’s eldest daughter Marlo’s house .   Rob and Nancy  staying but briefly desiring to return to Texas, Gary bidding a heartfelt goodbye.  Chris and Marlo’s Edmond residence was impressive, the swimming pool,  its acreage,  the creek flowing below the house, a spacious kitchen and living room, all a marvels,  but most impressive was his two Granddaughter,  Allison and Hollyann, both gleaming pyramids to the family.  Settling in for a brief stay, Ally having a weekend rehearsal for an upcoming school event,  Marlo providing dad and grandma a tour of the exclusive private Cassidy School.  The school with its uniformed students,  80 acre lake, spacious grounds resembling a small college campus, the school recognized as one of the foremost educational facilities in the nation.

Marlo, Ally and Hollyann

Marlo, Ally and Hollyann

Hollyann - pool side

Hollyann – pool side

The Denton's driveway

Marlo and Mom on the  driveway

Sarah and Hollyann

Sarah and Hollyann

Sunday morning Gary and Grandmother Betty accompanying the family,  with the exception of Chris  who was on duty at the fire station,  to the Edmond Baptist Church.  Gary most impressed with the visiting minister,  the President of Oklahoma Baptist University at Shawnee.   Having heard many latitudes and sermons in his lifetime, this being one of the best.   Accompany the visiting speaker was a quartet of musicians from the University playing and vocalizing an outstanding performance,  giving amplitude to character of this University.   The Sunday afternoon at the Denton’s, found a reunion,  his son Scott,  Lana Norwicki and Gary’s Granddaughter Sarah,  along with Tad Norwicki and his fiancé Kelly whom Gary thought bore a striking resemblance to Jennifer Aniston,  Gary’s mother finally having the opportunity to meet more of the Oklahoma faction of the Willson’s and their lineage.   The following day,  Gary had the opportunity to telephone his Oklahoma City friend of over forty years,  Jerry Willis.   Jerry driving to Edmond,  the afternoon spent with this remarkable guitarist and twice the best man at Gary’s weddings,  the two reminiscing their days as musicians in the 60’s.

Jerry Willis

Gary and his Mom

Gary and his Mom

The evening providing and excursion,  Chris  providing a tour of his work place fire station and  a one of a kind national acknowledged  Children’s Safety Village complete with a city park,  buildings, streets with traffic lights, the attraction a show place to educate the youth about safety.   Chris broaching that the Children’s Village had educational school district’s from throughout the State of Oklahoma busing their students to this applauded safety inducement.   Before leaving, Chris acknowledging the name Garrett Way,  posted on one of village’s street signs,  a tribute to Gary’s only grandson who had joined his Heavenly Father at the age of 12 on April 7,  2001.   The night ensuing the family enjoying a fiesta meal at a Mexican Restaurant,  Gary discovering why it was chosen,  a group of firefighter from another station were seated at an adjoining  table,  this establishment a favorite of these communities guardians.  Another sortie the following evening, the group briefly acquainting the familiar Brick Town for a short duration,  Chris pointing out its new boardwalk and the waterway canal that flowed towards the recently name changed North Canadian River, Gary questioning why the state would change this historic rivers name to a new bland non historical name,  The Oklahoma River.  Before leaving an introduction to a specialty,  a self-help ice cream parlor presenting their product not sold by the scoop, but sold by weight, one able to sample a variety of flavors, a scale at the checkout stand providing the cost

Brennan and Great Grandmother Willson

Brennan and Great Grandmother Willson

It was time to journey to Wichita, Gary’s eldest son Scott offering to navigate the elder Willson north on Interstate 35,  the 160 mile trip a  2 ½ hour venture.   Gary reluctantly having to relate a farewell to his daughter and grandchildren,  especially Hollyann, her vigor a paramount architecture bringing new meaning to the Denton family.  His departure bringing forth an overwhelming sensitivity of  loss, this part of  his life missing.   Traversing north in Scott’s aged Nissan the afternoon hour beginning, the threesome halting at Blackwell Oklahoma to partake of a McDonald’s,  a halfway stop.   An arrival at the Birzer residence on W. 18th in Wichita,  his daughter Sandra a welcoming sight.  Scott desiring an immediate U-turn,  having to work that night,  Gary grateful for his eldest son’s assistance,  Scott having lived in California being the only family member making annual trips to Modesto thru the years to visit Dad.

Brennan not much into the food.

Brennan not much into the food.

Father and Son

Father and Son

The Birzer home was inviting,  a two-storied structure with a superbly finished basement entertainment and office room with a large screen LCD screen,  a large sectional and Jeremy’s desk.   Great Grandma delighted with Brennan  who was just beginning to walk, knowing that this new-found experience fun,  his  smile a lively exponent reflection of Jeremy and Sandra.   The morning found Sandra desiring to shop for Brennan,  Gary and his mother about to enter Sandra BMW mode of transportation,  when Gary noticed that above the rear fender of Jeremy’s pickup parked in the driveway,  a bullet hole.   Gary questioning his daughter about the abnormality,  Sandra laughing,  replying she wasn’t suppose to say anything about it,  but during a visit by Rob,  his concealed handgun fell to the ground discharging,  resulting in a bullet hole in Jeremy’s pickup, Gary saying he wouldn’t tell anybody.   Sandra with Brennan firmly position in his car seat,  she proceeded to take dad and grandma on a tour of Wichita.  Gary discovering  Wichita had changed,  it being almost 10 years since his days of frequenting this majestic city.   The evening found his son-in-law adorning his culinary expertise, providing an outstanding specialty meal,  including an adorning glass of wine.   Jeremy securing a day off from work entertaining all for a luncheon engagement at a favorite bistro adjoining Old Town,  a pavilion that mimicked Brick Town in Oklahoma City.  Gary remembering when the area was first resurrected from the old abandoned warehouse district and now a showplace bordering the Arkansas River.

Brennan and Great Grandmother Willson

Brennan and Great Grandmother Willson

With a solemn feeling,  departure time and a return to California having descended,  Gary once more having a feeling of loss, a farewell to the meaningful people in his life.   Jeremy providing transportation in the morning hour to Wichita Mid Continent Airport,  Gary and his mother boarding a United Airlines flight for their return journey to Modesto.   Unlike the Boeing 557,  nonstop flight to Texas,  the smaller 737 was destined to Denver,  a connecting flight to San Francisco awaiting.  The delay in Denver was short-lived,  but during the escalator travel between gates Gary noticing that his mother didn’t look well.  Questioning her about her medication,  finding that her nitroglycerin patch that she was required to apply at high attitudes was never exercised,  a brief halt was made,  the stubborn matriarch Willson complying.   Gary enjoying the flight from Denver, having traversed this journey many time before,  never a monotonous journey,  the scenic view from above an august array displayed below the buoyant aircraft.   A gentle touchdown at the San Francisco International Airport,  a two-hour delay before a welcomed boarding on SkyWest to Modesto.   The traveling couple finding an interesting display at SFO,  an exhibit of the history of gambling slot machines,  the walkway between terminals lined with these historical relics from the past.  Both finding the history absorbing,  stopping and reading the placard that accompanied each exhibit.   The short Embraer 120 flight to Modesto was enhanced,  upon arrival  expecting Gary’s his sister Nancy to meet them and return her mom home to Columbia, to his surprise it was Gary sister Kay and husband Donald.  The transient adventure fulfilled,  Gary sad in one respect that it wasn’t shared with Fran but happy to be back.  Giving his mom a loving parting hug, thanking her for the time they spent on their journey and their togetherness, his sister and brother in law’s short visit ending before continuing on and as they left,  Gary mentioning to Fran that  this was only the third time in nine years that his sister Kay who lives only 70 miles from Modesto had ever visited,  he guessed she didn’t have much to say.

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