Saturday I left Chicago, much more confident than when I drove into the city. I really enjoyed my visit in Chicago with Helen and Norb. I was also ready to get out into the open spaces again. I admire people who can live in the “city”. One thing I learned is when you get up in the morning you look out the widow and up to see what kind of day it is.
Helen and I have been friends for a long time. We met when we worked together as nurses at San Diego Children’s Hospital. I can’t remember when our friendship established itself, it was so long ago. When she lived in San Diego we started hiking together with the Wednesday in the Mountain Group of the local chapter of the Sierra Club. We found we had even more things in common and attended many lectures, plays and theater over the years. Eventually Helen moved back to the mid-west, Chicago, to be nearer family and to create change in her life. Not too long after she returned she met Norb. They have been happily married for quite a few years. She really has blossomed with this move.
When Jim died she told me she was coming to San Diego. it was perfect timing. My sister had been with me for almost two weeks. I had about two weeks on my own and then Helen arrived. We didn’t sit around and mope we kept busy and caught up. I love Helen she is so much fun and she really cares about me and that is really all I need to understand. It warms my heart to know that when she found out about Jim,she made a plane reservation while we were on the phone. she didn’t ask me if I wanted her there, she knew and came. Thank you Helen for always being my friend. I look forward to more fun times with you. I appreciate your caring and your love.
While I was in the city I also had the opportunity to meet up with another friend, Terry. She is a new friend. We met on the Breast CancerSupport site (bcsupport.org). Terry, Zoe, Jim and I met each other in Washington DC in May 2011. That meeting bonded our friendship. Terry lives in the Chicago area. I was was able to meet her for dinner the first night I was in Chicago. It was so good to see her again. Her life has really taken off and I am so glad to see her happy. The four of us had dinner and we all caught up on the latest happenings in our lives. I am glad I met Terry. She has continued to be a great support for me through breast cancer and through the events with Jim. I am thankful for Terry being in my life.
Chance meetings: Saturday night, September 7, I drove into Wisconsin. I had a wicked headache and it was hot and sticky and I didn’t want to find place to camp. I did my first hotel experience of the trip in the Wisconsin town of Prairie du Sac. I think I found the last room in town as the Iron Man had been that morning. I walked down to the closest local restaurant, green Acres, which was packed. I sat in the bar while I waited for a table. Six people sat down at the same table and the next I knew I joined them for dinner. They told me about the town they are from, Baraboo. They not only invited me to dinner, Jen and Tracy bought my dinner. These moments of kindness touch me deeply, whether they come from a friend or a chance encounter. The best part of this meal was how comfortable we all were with each other. I hope to stay in touch with them.
This morning I drove to Baraboo to explore this little town. The Ringling Brothers Circus got its start in this town. The Circus World Museum is an attraction in this town. It also had a lovely town square which I explored. The Sunday market was in progress when I arrived.
I really enjoyed the ride through southern Wisconsin. I once again struck out on the local highways. If you ever have the chance to visit I high recommend Rt 33. I rode through the bluffs and rode the ridges of one of the coulees to the Mississippi. This is Amish country and the farms were so pretty. I even ended up at the end of a parade in the town of Cashton. I really Kline finding the local flavor of these places.
Last night I camped at a very pretty lake outside of Fairmont MI. I woke up to acorns dropping on the roof several times during the night. Once I realized that I was not being attacked by squirrels, I slept through the night.
Today I am in South Dakota and heading west. I have a few more things I want to do and then I am on my way southwest and heading for home.
This morning I was contemplating my life with Jim. What did I learn from these past 21 years. Whew, where do I start? I have not always had the best self image. Jim always saw more in me than I did in myself. I am my own best critic. After seeing so many on this trip and talking to many others I can longer deny that I am worthy of being cared about. With this recognition come new responsibilities, although I don’t know quite what they are yet. I have time to work that out. There is always the drive this afternoon.