This past weekend, I had the pleasure of flying to Kansas and going with Heather to all 4 days of the Country Stampede. What a great time! We talked and danced and ate and laughed and talked and cried and sang and talked and just had the very very best time!
One of my favorite parts of the festival was the people watching and getting to know our festival neighbors. We were in the VIP Section which has assigned seats, so for the most part, we were sitting by the same neighbors all four days.
Sitting right beside me was an fella named Luke. He is 81 years old. Been married for 56 years and has 5 kids. This was his 8th Country Stampede. He comes alone because his wife 'smoked for 60 years and never walked around the block, so her legs don't work so well anymore.'
Luke and I struck up a fast friendship. We had an instant camaraderie because we both have 5 kids - 3 boys and 2 girls. We talked quite a bit about our families. You could see that Luke was just as proud of his grown 40-50 year old kids as I am of our school age kids. We talked about raising the kids and he was so complimentary of his wife. He told me how he had worked a lot to provide for his family and of how his wife did most all of the parenting. At one point, he teared up and told me that he wasn't around enough for them when they were growing up and that he worries about it. When I asked to see a picture of his kids, he said he had left it in his planner. Sure enough, the next day he showed up and busted out a wallet size picture of his family. There was no doubt that this is one very proud dad with loads of love for his family.
The other incredible thing about Luke is that he LOVES country music. He knew every artist that was performing and the names the artists he had seen in the past. He also knew what he liked and didn't like. And let me tell you, he was not pleased at all by Tim McGraw only playing for 51 minutes a few years ago. He will be happy if McGraw never comes back to Country Stampede because 'you just don't treat people that way!' And he knew the names of the songs, the words to all the songs. And on the songs that he really loved, he was dancing and clapping!
It was such an honor to sit beside someone with so much heart. I believe that things happen for a reason, and we ended up neighbors with Luke as a reminder not to ever stop living.