Was written on February 8th, 1977, by my mother Marie Boling Cornelius (1903 - 1988). Born in Greeley Kansas when she was three weeks old, her father and mother loaded two covered wagons and seven other children and moved to Nowata Oklahoma. In a short time they move back to Kansas City, then Greeley and Lane. A wonderful mother and “A KANSAS PIONEER.”
Could I but have the words to describe you, as you always were and as you always will be.
As a soft sweet woman you could steal one’s heart away in the soft, mellow moonlight of a summer eve, an aching buoyancy filled my being as sleep was far away.
You turned on me suddenly, weak human that I was and as a dragon, scorched and seared me with your tongue of fire wind and left me fighting in the dust for my breath.
Cattle were thirsting for water, dying of starvation for want of blessed rain which you withheld from the earth day upon day. When the sun slowly glided down the molten sky it was a relief for a few hours to search my innermost self and ask “Why do I stay in this Hell” and there was no answer.
I laid on my steaming bed with eyes wide open and said “No more tomorrows of this”. I drifted off into a restless sleep filled with dreams of snow covered mountains and awaken to clashing thunder and searing streaks of lightening as if the parched earth was flinging its intense heat into the clouds in anger.
Then at last the sweet smell, and the sound of rain on my roof. Blessed, blessed rain pouring from your overflowing breast
Into my arid world. I must go outside to stand and let it infiltrate my parched body and soul, a thrust of hope and power filled my whole being.
But were you content with enough? No! not you wild one, you continued to pour down your bounty like a guilty miser giving his gold to the poor until your rivers flooded into the low lands and finished ruining my crops.
You sat like an avenging angel on my hopes and my dreams, feeling satisfied that you had punished me enough, you subsided into the long soft copper days of autunm. I forgave you for everything, the days stretched out like a long golden chain around your ample waist.
You never really took everything from me you were a teaser, you always left just enough to see me through the long cold days ahead. I was so young, so vulnerable with so many needs and desires, so willing to work with you, why did you treat me so cruelly, what was there about you the lusted for power over me?
I had forgiven you for the devastating summer when you retaliated with your icy blast of winter. The sad time of year when you killed all growing things and covered them in a cold desolate grave of snow. You iced my beautiful trees in white steel and broke the branches, your wind screamed around my dwelling and left me fearful. I vowed “There will be no more tomorrows of this hateful place, I shall seek sunshine and warmth."
But, Oh sweet siren that your were, you called me on a special morning to see and feel the spring and that lulls one into a false sense of security. You pridefully showed me the tender new buds and flowers peeping thorough the ground and asked me to pause a moment to listen to the glorious bird symphony. You beckoned me to run through the dewy warm grass with you, all forgiving and with a abandon I did: and was lost once again in my love for you. You are so sweet and cunning when you try.
Oh yes, you had me in complete control again, once more for a short time you led me on to plant hope and dream although I knew within my soul you would heap trouble on me again and again.
But my dear one, you fostered a hardy lot of stubborn children that you crushed time after time, but you also lifted them up to fight back, Oh! How they fought, you disciplined all of them. At the time we did not know why you were so cruel, unrelenting at times and then again so sweet and generous.
You sent many fine distinguished children out into our beautiful country to do their work for mankind, many of the lesser children worked and struggled also to keep our great land free and equal for all.
My Kansas taught me to fight back, to work and pray, but most of all you made them realize they must never be indifferent because indifference is the rotting of the soul, and for this dear teacher I thank you.
I will always love you, your wooded valleys and hills, your softly rolling plains, the lovely sand hills where you can look far away for a moment and your vision was not clouded with petty cares, the small towns where on a quiet night you can still hear the sound of a train as it snakes its way over the lonely prairies. For the beautiful understanding people who inhabited you “little piece" of the world and for the deep memories I thank you.
You starved and nourished me and sent me quivering out into a strange world that I knew little about. But with your harsh and gentle lessons I learned quickly to take advantage of opportunities that were presented for me. But also to always consider the feelings of my fellow man and for all this I thank you again.
On leaving Kansas I moved to a state with a more temperate climate, I still have my hopes and my dreams, but there is not the challenge of fighting and striving that I had with you.
You have had the good and the bad, but never, never indifferent and this, I think is what make your children more able to bear difficulties and hardships better then most. I am thankful and glad “My Kansas” that you were my parent and teacher and I salute you.
Written by Marie Boling Cornelius