Earlier this week found me back in West Texas for my great-uncle’s funeral. Great doesn’t even begin to describe Conner. On his eighty-eighth birthday he left behind a family that loves him, misses him, and had a great time celebrating his life. Someone called him the “glue” that held us all together. That would have probably embarrassed him, but I think it would have made him smile just the same.
Post, Texas is where my mother is from and where her people are buried. What is it about those open plains that has a way of drawing a person in, making you feel insignificant and an important part of something big – all at the same time? Located on the edge of the Caprock (you geography buffs can look up “llano estacado” if you like), Post was founded by Mr. C.W. himself, cereal magnate and visionary. Post Toasties anyone?
As far as I can remember, it has been 10 years since I’ve been to Post; the last occasion was my grandmother’s funeral. I miss our family gatherings and reunions, especially the ones that revolve around happier life events such as births and weddings. Once I finally have all the “who is related to whom” sorted out, it’s time to leave. Typical of many Texas towns, this one has a main street, a courthouse square, some old buildings, and a Dairy Queen. The schools my relatives attended are still there, along with the small house in town and the homeplace out in the country. My great-grandmother ran a dress shop after Granddaddy passed away. It’s still there.
Some things will never change, but I doubt my pioneer relatives would have known what to do with the daily special at George’s Cafe. I should have figured something was up when the front of the menu featured the story of the Parthenon. And that artwork on the wall sure didn’t include cows, farms, or a single lone star. The clientele may have been turned out in their best starched Wranglers and Tony Lama boots, but the cuisine was decidedly international. Right next to the chicken fried steak and enchilada plates was…Gyros and Souvlaki. You bet I tried it! Tender chunks of marinated and grilled pork, served with fresh pita, onions, peppers and a killer of a tzatziki sauce. I’m not sure you’d find these sides on the Mediterranean – french fries and Spanish rice – but it was a tasty plate just the same. (What is “George’s” last name you wonder? I asked. It began with “K” and ended with something like “-iatides”. I wonder who he is and how he ended up here?)
We finished the afternoon at the cemetery, saying our goodbyes to each other while the sounds of the bugler’s Taps still lingered. The USAF officers had performed their flag ceremony with ritual grace and precision, presenting the thankful reminder of my uncle’s service to my aunt. The drive away from town brought still more history lessons: the mill where my grandmother walked to work, cotton fields, and oil. Standing next to grazing cattle, bobbing their own dark heads are the oil wells. Some are still while some still generate a check once a month. And windmills! These aren’t the stuff of vintage photos, rather they are white, energy producing monoliths. They are planted everywhere, like some giant space alien flower garden. Old and new, both finding their place on the landscape. Reminders of where we came from and where we’re going.