Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Trip Home to Say Good-bye...

I have just spent 3 of the past 6 days in Oklahoma. The first 3 of those days were in Arkansas, where I gathered with the rest of the Campbell/Wheeler clan to say goodbye to my sweet Grandma. Evelyn Leachman Campbell Wheeler passed away on Friday, August 5, 2005. She had suffered for a year from ovarian cancer and is now at home with Jesus, completely healed. It was a bittersweet time; saying goodbye is never an easy thing. But it is good know where she is at and whom she is with and that I will see her again someday.

The funeral service was in a small Catholic Church nearby her house in Van Buren, Arkansas, where she has lived for the past 7 or so years. She was buried later that same day in Enid, Oklahoma, in the same cemetery where my Grandma Myers, Great-Grandma and Grandpa Leachman and several other relatives have been laid to rest.

She leaves behind her husband, Bill, 8 children, 2 stepchildren, 1 foster child, 33 + grandchildren and many, many cousins and extended family. There are countless stories I could tell about my grandma, but simply put... She loved unconditionally, knew how to have fun, loved to laugh and tease, was strong and wise and she will be missed by all.

After the burial service I got to spend sometime with my Grandpa Myers and his wife, Millie. My parents and Jonathan and I stayed a few days with them in Enid. It was good to be with family. It was good to reconnect with my roots.

I was born in Oklahoma. A fact that very few people know about me. My heritage runs deep there. It's where my grandparents, both sides of the family, met and fell in love and it's where my parents met and fell in love. Many generations have lived and died there. Many more will follow. It's a place of big skies and open fields. A place where everyone smiles and most people still say "howdy!" as you pass by. "Ma'am" and "Sir" are everday language. Manners may be a little rough at the table, but never around their elders.

If you're from Oklahoma it's always in you. People say that Texans are the proudest sort around, but the truth is Okies are; we just have a more gracious kind of pride. One that wraps you up and includes you in its stories and makes you feel right at home.

In spite of the circumstances, it was good to go "home" for a visit. I come back feeling like I learned a little bit more about who I am and where I come from. I used to think that being an Okie wasn't really that big of a deal, but there's too much there to be proud of, and it is a big deal.

(Besides, my husband thinks it's cute when I talk with my twang)!