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Today, I must plead guilty to a WUI charge.
Writing Under the Influence.
Under the influence of a one-week vacation, seeing my parents and other close relatives, returning to the places where I spent my first 10 years, and stopping in Hannibal, Mo.
Earlier this month, my wife and I spent a week in Seward, Neb., the town where I was born. My family moved to Lincoln when I was 6 and to Washington, D.C., when I was 10. Eighteen years later, my parents returned to Seward.
I have been back to Seward many times, but this visit seemed special. We had no agenda. Mostly, we just visited.
That’s always nice, and I never fail to learn something from my folks. This time, among other things, I learned more about my grandparents.
I had the good fortune to have spent a lot of time with all four of my grandparents. They were all pretty bright people.
I knew that none of them had gone to college, but I didn’t know the details. I learned on this trip that Grandma Vrana had the most formal education of my grandparents. She finished the 10th grade, then stopped. Grandpa Vrana had a sixth-grade education, then worked full-time on the farm. Grandma and Grandpa Flowerday each had seventh-grade educations.
I also learned that the tiny house I was brought home to after my birth had, at that time, no indoor plumbing.
During the week, I went to a Seward City Council meeting with my dad, who is finishing up his last term on the council. I met the city attorney, who turns out to be a second cousin. I met the mayor, Josh Eickmeier, who mentioned to me that his parents met in Columbus, Ind., and in fact were visiting Columbus as we spoke.
Dad took us to Seward’s Evangelical Free Will Church, which recently moved into a former WalMart and turned it into a one-acre church building, complete with a gymnasium and other places for people to gather in a positive, loving, supportive environment.
And then there was the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The current cover features a young lady named Amy Heidemann, of the music duo Karmin. Amy was born in Seward and graduated from Seward High School. She has been quite the entertainer throughout her young life, and her stardom has been no surprise to the locals.
During our week out there, my dad and I went to volleyball matches at Seward High and Concordia University. We’ve done a lot of things together in my 60 years, but a volleyball match was not one of them. The match at “the college” was especially exciting.
My sister and her husband also live in Seward, as do their daughter and her husband of two years. My niece and nephew-in-law had their first baby, Sadie Elizabeth, on Aug. 6. Spending time with them was wonderful. We all agreed that Sadie is perfect.
After driving the 725 miles from Columbus to Seward in one day on the way out, my wife and I decided to take two days to come home. We stayed overnight in Hannibal, Mo., the boyhood hometown of Mark Twain. We had been there before and taken a cave tour. During the tour, the guide turned off the lights to show us “complete and total darkness.”
This time, Laura spent a lot of time in a quilt shop while I roamed the stores and didn’t buy anything. The closest I came was a refrigerator magnet featuring Mark Twain’s observation, “My books are like water, those of great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.”
It was a fine week. Then, recharged and relaxed, it was good to be back.
Tim Vrana, of Columbus, is a community columnist. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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