After all the trips to Jefferson City and Tipton on Sundays, no matter the weather, Kelvin was scheduled to come home on Sunday, the 4th of March, 2004. Dakota and I made our last trip to Tipton to pick up his daddy. He had longed for his father to come home and Kelvin had vowed to be a changed man. Every Sunday when we were not down there he would call home to see how we were doing. He sent tapes of stories for Dakota to listen to on the tape player, even if he couldn’t be there to read to him this was his way to be able to read and bond with his son he had lost so much time with. Dakota was 9 ½ years old then. I had taken him to ball games and watched him play since he was 7. He had been in Boy Scouts for a year but there were just too many things that he needed a father for and I couldn’t continue taking him or help him with making a race car etc…
We got up early, about 4 AM that Sunday morning. I stopped at Speedy’s on Riverside road before leaving St Joe and heading East on 36 highway, to Chillicothe, then South on 65 to Sedalia then eventually Tipton. I liked the trip and the drive. I had my plastic bag of quarters for the vending machine, some pop to drink and a full tank of gas after leaving Speedy’s. It was a long drive. By going that direction instead of South through Kansas City I avoided traffic and the countryside was comforting. He pointed at the cows and a few horse and buggies that we met along the way as the Mennonites lived throughout the area. We traveled South past Marshall and other small towns, under the bridge and the South 435 traffic I had bypassed. The next town was Sedalia, home of the Missouri State Fair every year in August. Highway 65 had many crooks and turns, the traffic started to thicken now and the lanes spread out into four lanes of traffic. I stopped at a gas station at the intersection where I needed to turn East on 50 to go to Tipton to fill up the gas tank for the long drive back with Kelvin. Another 30 miles and we had arrived. Every time I had to remember the left turn off 50 highway in the middle of the small Missouri town that held my husband prisoner. Is it this one or is it down further? I consoled myself that this would be the last time I would have to remember that.
When I parked my car in the parking lot we got out and I had to try to control Dakota’s movements as he always tried to be the first one to cross the highway to the building where his father had been housed the last two years. The road was a busy one and there was a hill. I knew no car would be able to see a little boy darting across the wide two lane highway topping that hill. I had to lock the car, make sure I had my purse and the plastic bag containing the quarters and round up my son so he wouldn’t end up in a hospital (I didn’t know where there was one, Sedalia I’d guessed, thirty miles back West from where we’d come). We both got across safely enough. Once inside they said for us to wait there after using their “Magic Wand” over us. We sat in the chairs, there was a small waiting room, and they said they would send him out. We didn’t have to wait too long when we saw him carrying his sole possessions. He was dressed up in new clothes his Mother had sent him to go home, had a duffle bag of sorts and wearing a big grin on his face. He had lost so much weight, was tanned from mowing the “Yard” and running around the track several miles a day for exercise and something to do. He had read all the books they had in their library, had worked in the kitchen for a time, he was always a pretty good cook. Once he had everything done, papers signed, whatever was left to do, we headed for the parking lot. The first thing he wanted to do was go to the store in Tipton to buy some snacks. He hadn’t been in a real store for four years. He had always liked to shop, unlike most men. Going to Wal-Mart was a chore since once he was there he never wanted to leave until every aisle was searched from top to bottom, in case we ever had any money to buy anything we would know how much and where to get it. His mother had been putting money on his account there so when we left he had about a hundred or so dollars to spend. He was happy, easy going and best of all he was calm. We drove back the way we had come without a rise out of him. We talked and laughed. He didn’t complain about my driving or “Why did you go this way?” He was glad to be coming home at last.
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