On a lonely Kansas hill located by a shelterbelt of old trees and a barbed wire fence sits the place that once fanned my imagination into the field of writing. Strange to say, it was located on a country thoroughfare now named Sunrise Road. Even now the crows that croon is voicing the same lullaby of by-gone days and the melancholy melody of the Kansas farm that once existed, perhaps even bringing solace to the Indians at an earlier time, along the Santa Fe trail near the Little Arkansas River located less than a mile from the farmstead. My great grandparents, Kroeker came from Europe in 1874 with their remaining two boys, Abraham and George (my grandfather) who purchased the farm stead.
We lived on it a few years and the rays of the prairie sunrise from the east used to dance through all the long, lean windows of the old two-story farmhouse in which we lived, fueling my little girl’s imagination with a burning desire to pencil my observations onto my Big Chief pencil tablet. Sunrise on the farm always gave me a thrill. Shortly before the sun’s grand entrance, the rooster would announce her coming like the trumpet of the King. Sometimes this would cause a brief flurry of the barn yard cats as they began them vigil of watching the front door. Even our two farm dogs, Shep and Spot, began their watchfulness, knowing that soon, with coming of their caretaker, they would be fed their morning repast. Occasionally you could hear the plaintive moo of a cow, impatiently waiting to be milked. And then it came. Just a hint of a promise at first, brief streaks of color in the drab gray, then a little more, and suddenly the sun broke out and washed the Kansas landscape in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and the world became alive. A new day had arrived!
Scrambling out of bed in my upstairs room, I’d make my way carefully down the short curving steps and into the large family kitchen where Mom was already preparing breakfast. The stark kerosene cook-stove emitted delicious aromas of bacon and eggs as well as pancakes. The coffee percolator bubbled away in a delightful “chug-chug” song and the day was off with a grand beginning.
For the moment, at least, I forgot about the hot, sultry day a few years before when I, a little three-year-old lost someone I had come to depend on. Here was my first lesson on living: The shortest distance to the sunrise is always to go through the night. We had lived in town and my six-year-old sister and I had gone to the neighbors to play with their little kittens along with some of the other children. The father had come home from hunting and handed the gun to his young son, Billy.
“Why did he point it at Lulu and pull the trigger?” I wondered to myself for the hundredth time. She fell down and closed her eyes. All I remembered after that was a nightmare of activity; The next time I saw her she was in a box lined with satin and she didn’t wake up. I had thought to myself “If I just bend down and touch her, she will wake up!” But I didn’t have the nerve. The grownups had told me she had gone to heaven, but I wasn’t sure I could believe then. I just plain did not understand!
Still, when we moved to the farm, it did seem like the beginning of a new day. My mother did her job as well as she could. When my dad had a night job in town, mom had to stay with my little sister Carol and me. alone in the big two-story farm house without locks on the doors. One night she heard a motor on the yard, so she lit the kerosene lantern and walked out into the yard and called out in her most fearsome voice “WHO’S THERE?”
Evidently someone was in back of the barn, stealing some of the precious, rationed tractor gas from the barrel. When he heard my mom, he jumped in his car and barreled down the rutty driveway, going at least thirty-five miles an hour.
There were times my poor father really had his hands full. He was the only driver in our family and so he had to keep his senses about him. One day when he was working on the motor of the car, he almost severed his finger off. He ran into the house, shouting “I lost a finger!” Then, realizing he was the only one who could drive. he jumped in the car and took off down the frozen field, avoiding the rutty driveway and making it to the Buhler doctor before he passed out. It was no wonder I was taught to drive the tractor and the car at the tender age of eleven. We were all determined to make it work.
And it did, through thick and thin, good times and bad, sad moments and moments of elation, we knew we could trust God to get us through! I had finally heard and understood the message of how I could be sure that my sister was in heaven and that by believing in him and asking Him into my own heart, heaven would be my destination too!
Sunrise always comes and because I am now a Christian, I can do what I love to do and write about it and yes, even blaze the trail for others to follow!
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