Saturday, June 27, 2015

A short wonderful trip--amd so much for my expectations

I just had one of the best 24 hours of my life. As many of you know from my children's Facebook postings, we all five went to Lubbock on a whirlwind trip for my induction into the Western Writers of America Hall of Fame. It was a trip fraught with a few airline delays but marked by much joy and laughter and a couple of pranks on the part of my kids--well, at least one son.
I had been uncertain about this trip--don't like to fly, even though it's a 55-minute flight, unsure of who I'd know since it's been at least 15 years or more since I've been to WWA, uncertain of what to say at the induction (Colin told me I had to speak 30 minutes), and absolutely unprepared for my part on the panel Saturday morning. Yet it all went well. My personal cheering section assured me I was eloquent but brief. It didn't seem to matter that I dropped the trophy as I handed it to Colin or that I forgot the few things I had in mind to say at the acceptance.
It was nostalgic for me--many of the 41 inducted were not there, having either passed on or not in good enough health to attend. I missed some good friends (Who really expected Clint Eastwood to show up?) Others seemed to me to have aged a great deal. I was quick to ask the kids if I had aged that much and they were as always reassuring. But I did get to greet several people I was genuinely glad to see...and I think I acquitted myself well in recognizing everyone. For many years, WWA was a huge part of my life, and if I've had any success as a writer I owe it to that group and the people I met at their conventions. I served a couple of terms on the board and one as president.
The induction was at the Ranching Heritage Center, a lovely setting. After the formal ceremony, everyone adjourned to the patio.
Megan and Jordan on the patio
Jordan had saved us a table in the shade. The weather grew increasingly pleasant as the evening wore on--nice temperatures and just a hint of a breeze. Dinner was a typical BBQ--brisket, roast pork, beans, cole slaw, potato salad, and cobbler. After dinner, musicians played country/western music and one recited a poem by the late S. Omar Barker (SOB), long a beloved member, with his wife Elsa, of WWA. I liked a musician who sounded like he'd taken basic Scottish folk songs and put cowboy words to them, but the kids like another one better. Never mind that Jordan and Megan got the uncontrollable giggles--and never would tell me what they were giggling about.
Jamie and Colin
Back at the hotel, more wine, stayed up too late. But sound asleep when someone began to knock on my door. After a couple of times, I called the boys; Colin said he'd be right there but I never heard anything. Seems it was room service--and had the wrong J.Alter. Jamie ordered hot wings at midnight, and they were on the same floor.

Me. reminding Barry Corbin that
we really had met before--
in my living room.
This morning we had a long, leisurely breakfast and then I was on a panel at 10:30, to talk about the land as a character in Elmer Kelton's novels. I was in high cotton because my fellow panelist were Elmer's son, Steve, novelist and good Kelton friend Patrick Dearen, and actor Barry Corbin.
I felt like I was stumbling and bumbling but my personal cheering square said I was "awesome" and complained about my always getting so nervous when once on the spot I do very well, either flying in a plane or speaking in public.
The minute the panel was over, it was rush out the door to the loaded car and head for the airport--only to find our plane was delayed almost an hour. More wine and airport sandwiches--not my idea of lunch, but it was okay. And then, a little over 24 hours later, I was back home again, with the whole experience seeming like a dream.
I would never have enjoyed this experience without my four children. They know only too well that I am a bit shaky on balance--and this weekend my feet hurt, which made walking doubly difficult. Wherever I turned, there was one of them with an arm out; they dragged my suitcase; Jordan held on to my boarding pass and drivers license and took me through that process until I thought the attendant must think I was in my early dotage. They brought me wine. They beamed and laughed at me when I was onstage. They were absolutely wonderful, and I am so grateful to them and for them. This was one of life's moments to be treasured.

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