I suppose it would be easy enough to dismiss this whole episode as owing to an infirmity of mental capacity. The idea on the face of it seems plainly ludicrous: driving over three hundred miles into a winter storm to go to a football game when the wind chill is in double digits below zero. Yep, plainly ludicrous with likely overtures of deficit cognitive functioning. And yet, so entirely sensible given a deeper understanding of the situation.
It was my birthday.
And, in celebration of my birthday, my son Sam not only bought tickets—great seats, by the way—he also flew his son Gammon up from San Antonio to Kansas City so he could be with us. Three generations, first pro football game together. In fact, for Gammon and me, first pro football game, period. Sam had been to a Chiefs game when he was just a year or two older than Gammon, who is a fourth-grader.
Since I am, occasionally, slightly smarter than a fifth-grader, on Friday afternoon I did rent a four-wheel drive vehicle for the winter trek. And prayed for safe travel just about every mile from Winfield to Wathena. Although freezing rain had caused a massive number of accidents and closed I-29 and US-36 near Saint Joseph, Missouri, I made the entire trip without any slipping, sliding or fishtailing. A combination of prudence and Providence served me well. Driving at slower speeds than normal and a timely response of salt trucks worked well together. I was up to our place at Blair by eight-thirty Friday night and celebrated by stringing Christmas lights around the round pen by the horse shed. Encircled by lightly glazed branches drooping toward the earth, the lights looked magical in the freezing mist that was falling.
On Saturday morning, I cooked waffles and sausage to share with my friend Neil. We enjoyed a good visit for a couple of hours, then headed on to the separate parts of our day. I stopped by Saint Joe and visited Jay and Leah for a little bit. Leah serenaded me with her own custom composition of “Happy Birthday.” Then I drove on through the snow and whipping wind south to Fort Leavenworth. Sam and I shopped for winter clothes for Gammon then picked him up at the airport in Kansas City. Sam cooked chili and hot dogs. After supper, he, Gammon and I made signs for the football game: “KC Chiefs + My Son + My Grandson = Happy 63rd Birthday,” “3 Generations, 1st Chiefs Game,” and Gammon made his own “I Came to See Kansas City Win.”
Sunday morning, Sam cooked us waffles and sausage and we loaded up the vehicles and headed to Arrowhead Stadium. It was minus three degrees with a “light” wind. We were bundled up like fragile packages for safe shipping. After standing in the cold for two hours, I held up my other sign: “Next Year, My Birthday is in August!!”
I had thought Gammon might get tired of the cutting cold and not being able to see very well because of all of the adults standing up in front of him. But he found a space where he could see and started cheering and dancing during the second half. We stayed for the whole game, including the last second loss to the visiting team on a fifty-three yard field goal. No frostbite, no shivers, no shaking and no aching. It might have been a bit more fun if it was sixty degrees and the Chiefs had won but what an incredible memory!
Then we drove for four hours where Randa welcomed us with homemade chili, fresh homemade cornbread and a homemade strawberry chiffon birthday cake just like the ones my mom made for me. Mom never put a six and a three on top of the ones she made but never needed to, either. Randa and Sam and Gammon sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I made a wish (prayer) and blew out the candles.
There are times when we have to remind ourselves to reflect on our blessings and be grateful. And then there are times when we are almost overwhelmed at the abundance of grace and mercy falling on our lives. Times when even the most unpracticed heart cannot help but overflow with thanksgiving and appreciation.
What a wonderful weekend! What a wonderful life…