We are Dalhart bound. For those not in the know Dalhart is like the next to last outpost in the upper reaches of the Texas panhandle. Marty grew up in Dalhart, she went to school in Dalhart, her father farmed and raised cattle in Dalhart, her mother still lives in Dalhart and we make a semi-annual 500 mile odyssey to Dalhart to revisit roots and Mother Jean. We went to see Great and Wise today, had blood tested and the good Doctor passed us as good to go, so color us gone early in the a.m...
It is a long way to Dalhart from our home and for Marty, the only way to go is to drive, so we load up the van with all of the associated appurtenance and drive. It's nine hours, one way, no matter how you cut it, so for Marty and Erica, our caregiver, I have two seasons, yes two, of The Shield; for me I have three books on tape, it's gonna be a real party.
This trip Matt, Sarah, baby Noah, Erin and Lyle (all our children) are flying out to meet us. We all really want baby Noah to meet Great Gran Jean for the first time, it should be interesting to see the interaction as Jean has a bit of age-induced dementia. I suspect she will be thrilled; she is always happy to see Marty and somehow seems to remember Marty's fate.
Marty and I got married in Dalhart; we spent many Christmas's there, at least one white Christmas, a bit of a rarity in Texas. Marty had deep roots there, and through her, I developed a real affection for that part of Texas. Marty's father is buried in Dalhart. He was quite a guy, sometime I need to tell about how he shot me. Regardless of the assault we both really miss him. Marty’s Mom is in a really small, well run nursing home and has managed to do well given her circumstances.
The panhandle is a unique part of Texas, flat, pristine, and clear where you can literally see as far as the eye can see. Farming, ranching and the support commerce for farming and ranching are the life blood of the area and you see cattle, wheat, oats, corn and pivot irrigation systems everywhere. The people there are the people of this country, strong, straight, frank, independent and marvelously kind. That country is a part of Marty and part of what made her who she was and is.
The land and the people provide a sense of connection, a real sense of heritage. That’s why our kids still want to make this trip every now and then. I think our kid’s want to take their significant others’ to Dalhart for this sense of connection. Neither grew up there, but both are proud they have a connection to this land, both want others to know their families history there even though there isn’t that much of our history left. We all still see Dalhart as part of our home, as part of our life, as part of our personal history, so we go back, almost instinctively, like salmon swimming up-stream.
As is our life everywhere we have something of a routine in Dalhart, go see Marty's mom, drive through the country, see family friends, eat out, pack up and go back home. It's hard, its’ something of an arduous journey for both of us, but it is worthwhile.
Marty feels a sense of normal there, she feels like the caregiver for her mother, she feels loved by the friends who come to see her or take her out to eat. Marty remembers there, she remembers her life before, she remembers the snow, she remembers the friends, she remembers how good life was particularly if you are looking backwards. For Marty it’s home like no other place will ever be. Dalhart still has a hold on Marty, me too.