NORMAN — I’ve been insanely homesick lately. Seems like summer is always harder to be away from “home.”
It’s probably because during my collegiate days, I, willingly, couldn’t wait to go back home. It was there I didn’t have to lug my clothes up two flights of stairs to do laundry like I did at my apartment complex.
Summers meant that I could do anything with my personal money because my parents funded most of my adventures, such as gasoline in the car and food. Electric bills were off the table and I never had to take out the trash. It was, indeed, summertime and livin’ easy.
But, also, there are the many beautiful Kansas summers that I’ve kept in my mind. The perfect sunsets. The extra hours of daylight were always appreciated when we were younger. The longer day meant that the chore of pre-bedtime bath was prolonged just a few more hours. Important things when you’re too busy playing to take time for hygiene.
I don’t know if this has just been a good year for sunflower growing, but I’ve noticed more and more crops this year in the inner city. I’d personally like to thank each and every sunflower farmer in the area for planting this bright yellow flower. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, but you’ve no idea how much easier being homesick is when you have a little piece of Kansas right in your backyard.
Another reason I’ve been homesick this week is that I found out a high school classmate of mine died. I heard the news days before I ever saw an obituary. It was shocking that early morning when I read the news online.
But still, for some reason seeing the fact that someone at the young age of 39 was taken from this world was still hard to comprehend. After the third or fourth time I read his obituary, things started to become real.
But what’s even harder to cope with is the fact that the world also lost another great journalist.
Growing up, Russ Morgan and I weren’t very close. In fact, I hated Russ Morgan before I even knew him. His dad was a principal at my elementary school. When my fifth-grade teacher decided it was time to sell her little sports car for something a little more family friendly, guess whose dad was there with the check? His intentions were to save the car until his only son would be able to drive it himself.
Jealously is never an attractive trait for a young lady, at least that’s what my mother always said. Now I agree, but back then, I was too upset that my dad didn’t shell over the money for his only daughter.
But time goes on and you realize that a Mustang from the 1980s, although cool, doesn’t really define who someone really is. In high school, we had a few classes together. I always thought Russ was insanely talented, but his quiet nature always held him back.
He always seemed too smart for the rest of us. And when he did manage to make a comment, you could always guarantee it was either going to make us all laugh or make us all ponder something philosophical. Looking back now, it just seems that Russ Morgan had an old soul.
Then we graduated. Life pushes you in different directions and you stop thinking about the people who where in your life when you were a teenager. You start meeting new people and doing new things. But, like it’s designed to do, Facebook puts you back in touch with those from your past.
Being a fellow journalist, Russ and I had reconnected online. We talked about the ups and the downs of the industry. Both of us had similar thoughts and neither of us had the heart to leave the business. No matter how many family events this job takes us away from. No matter how many sleepless nights you encounter. No matter how many times you sweated making deadline. Every day is a good day when you are a journalist.
I toiled with the fact all week if I should make the two-hour car ride to Kansas to attend Russ’ funeral. After all, it would have helped cure my bad case of being homesick. But then I realized something. I could pay better homage to Russ Morgan sitting at my desk working on a deadline. So that’s what I did.
And, although he would be incredibly embarrassed that I dedicated an entire column, almost 20 inches, to him, I know that Russ Morgan was one of the most dedicated, trusted, talented individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to meet — even if he did get the car that I always wanted.