It was just this last Sunday morning. I was at the store my cell phone rang. As much as I hate to answer it in public, I looked at it didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway. The voice on the other side said, “hi Hamid”, and like the decent Kansas son he has always been, Bob introduced himself,
“… its Bob Threlkel. ”
“Oh, hi Bob, how are you? What pleasant surprise!”
He chuckled and pleasantries were exchanged. We quickly found out how our wives were, how his kids were doing, how his parents, whom I know very well, are still healthy and fine. Bob was my wrestling coach in high school. He and his wonderful family are the perfect picture of kindness from the American mid-West. Born and raised in the farmland of Kansas, the Threlkels are good folks.
So, Bob quickly got to the point why he called. “Well, your name is in the local paper!
“Is it good or bad? I asked.
He laughed and said, “No, its part of the list of the graduates. It's your 25th reunion.”
Holly shit, I thought to myself and didn't say it, of course. Bob doesn't talk like that, nor does he like to hear it. (Sorry you have to read it Bob) I couldn't believe it, 1980 was when I graduated from high school in Hays, Kansas, where he and his family still preside. So, I thanked him for reminding me that I'm that old. And in a few seconds so many memories rushed through my head.
The first Easter vacation, when Bob asked me to go with him to his family farm and spend the holidays with his family. It was absolutely amazing. Everyone was genuinely nice, giving, and kind. They were so interested in who I was and where I was from. I was surrounded by questions about Iran and our customs, holidays, language, food, and just about everything. I wouldn't shut up. I loved talking about all I knew of Iran. Truly, it was the first time I felt I belonged and didn't miss my family so much.
I met all of Bob's family and Karen's family. Karen was Bob's fiancé and now his wife for 26 years, I think. I ate real, home-cooked, wonderful, delicious American food. I saw the plenty of Kansas, where all of your bread comes from. Long, set table with every good wholesome food on it. A list, that if I started naming will make you run to the fridge, for sure.
Soon after, his family adopted me, well not literally, as a son. I saw them often and when I graduated on that wonderful Kansas June from high school, his family's loud cheer was there when they called my tongue twister name. I, forever, cherish and appreciate that. They even threw me a graduation party, with home-made cake and sun-tea. For those who don't know what sun-tea is, it is tea brewed in the sun for hours. It is wonderful.
Bob and his family visit relatives in California every few years. We have been fortunate to have them for a few days. One cold Christmas, when Bob asked me to spend the holidays with him and his family, his family gave me a silver medallion with an Indian head penny imbedded in it. On the back there is a engraving, “to Hamid from your Kansas family. I cherish that as a wonderful reminder of how wonderful the Threlkels and the Wilkinsons were and are.
I will miss my 25th reunion of my high school this year due to my busy schedule and plans of moving back to California. Knowing that a family, “my family” will always be there, warms my heart that I'm always welcomed in Kansas.
Thanks Bob, Karen, Mom and Dad Threlkel, Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson, and the whole gang. Thank you for making me feel like I belong. Thanks for loving me without knowing me. I love you too.