Most of the Tipps family reunions over the last 25 years have been held in Lubbock, Texas, hosted by my Great-uncle Robert Nolan “Red” and Hannah Tipps. Red was my mother’s favorite uncle and beloved by everyone who knew him. When he fell head over heels in love with Hannah, she found a place in our hearts right next to Red.
My son Paul attended his first Tipps reunion in 1984 when he was almost two years old. He and Red were both in the family line of readers, writers and men who love the power of words. Paul wrote this poem as he flew home to Portland after Red’s funeral in October 2011.
I'm one thousand feet above lubbock, leaving, for the last (?) time. Rising, rapidly, retreating from my childhood. take me home. I'm twenty nine years old, and heading, north. The grid of lubbock is choked, in dead, brown, earth. Circles trained by decades of sprinklers, lay parched, dying as a way of life is dying. slowly forgetting what sustained it. Water is worth more than gold, IF, life is valued. The proverbial, perilous, big if. Red, you were valued. I'm sorry to say I'll never bravely (?), believe, that you can hear me now. (my cynicism is finely honed). But leaving lubbock I feel more in tune with you, more in line with my past, more a manifest of melodic malady –family than I ever have before. I have to be honest. I don't see this ever happening, again. end of an era? When you're asleep, do you ever tense up, breathe faster, flutter your eyelids, before the nightmare even begins? FYI: Our towns are built upon rivers, of life, that we've poisoned, and bled, until they're dry. Then we piss a trickle into, the creek bed, and call it, a torrent. But I digress. Because, honestly, for first, and last (?) time, I feel a part of it all. Lubbock I leave with twenty years, of condensed, memories (as if there were any other kind). Some would call it a lifetime. I saw 14 month old Nathan, staring, enraptured, by the koi, carelessly careening. And I tripped out, HARD. I'm still learning what I learned, long ago, in lubbock. Isn't your entire life, just a childhood? An adolescence, of who you become? Now. I'm descending now, I can feel the tilt (as always, all puns, parodies, and plays on words, are, intended). It's gonna get really, REALLY, bumpy, says the pilot ‐I better finish my beer. There's no telling where, we'll, all, land. I'll see you when, when we get there. Leaving: Lubbock Heading: Home To all those who came before, who washed this dirt from their skin, inhaled, exhaled, this dry texas air‐ I hope we make you proud. The pilot was right, it's bumpy now.