I don’t remember how old I was, maybe eight or nine, when my family drove from our home near Berryton, Kansas to Buffalo Creek, Colorado to bring my granma back home at the end of the summer. She had spent the summer working for a family friend who she had known since the friend was a baby many decades before. When my Granma was a young woman, before she was married, she regularly helped new mothers in the neighborhood right after the babies were born. She also did this for a family who spend their summers in Colorado. This friendship continued after Granma married and had children. The family gradually bought several vacation cabins in Colorado, then an inn. They needed summer help with the inn and Granma’s daughters and nieces went out some summers to help. This year Granma had gone out to help.
It was the first summer she had worked there that I could remember. I missed her terribly. She lived on a farm across the road from the farm were I lived. Her house was less than half a mile away, across a large pasture. I had been walking to her house, alone, from the time I was two and a half. Her house was my refuge from my screaming mother. That summer I had no escape.
All I can remember of the traveling was that for a short way across Kansas we drove on a recently completed stretch of a new, four-lane highway. This was I-70 before it went all the way across Kansas. The cuts through the hills, exposing the colored strata of the rocks, impressed my father, not me. I just wanted to be with Granma.
The car was hot and crowded with four small children in the back seat. Our mother had provided a few, small games for us, such as one where you marked items you saw along the way. This may have been good for areas with towns and buildings along the highway, but for the empty plains of Kansas, those things weren’t along the highway to see. The drive took all day – and it was boring! I was the oldest and my younger brothers and sisters were a pain!
When we arrived at the inn, I was the first one out of the car. I had been to this place a few years before, so I knew my way around. We had parked by the back door that went to the kitchen. I ran in, expecting to find Granma, but a strange woman was there stirring cake batter with a spoon.
“Vacuuming down the hall,” the woman pointed.
I knew the hall and ran towards it. There, I saw her at the end of the hall, at the top of the few steps that marked the difference between the combined buildings of the inn. I ran. She didn’t hear me until my feet thundered up those few steps. She didn’t even have time to turn the vacuum off before I plowed into her and grasped onto her. To my surprise, I found myself crying with relief. I was with my Granma and I was safe now.
My family spent a few days in one of the cabins, I remember climbing up the side of a mountain with my father and brothers, until my little brother, who was ahead of the rest of us stopped because of an abrupt drop on the other side. We have a photo of us, and Granma, standing beside the car at some place on the way home, but I don’t know where. I was simply glad to have Granma back.
She never worked there again.