Why Us?-Why Not Us?

Last week my great nephew, Ward, was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. He is one and a half years old and the picture of health, except that this malignant mass is growing in and around his right kidney. Instead of celebrating Christmas at home he will be recovering from surgery. The whole right kidney will be removed. He will be given time to recover and then proceed to the chemotherapy part of this treatment plan.

As part of the extended family I am devastated by this news. This little sweet lion will face challenges that most of us never have to face, especially at this young age. This young and thriving family will face many challenges that they never expected to have to face. This is their baby and their love.

When I first spoke with my niece, we had a long and struggling talk. Why us?, was the question that she and her husband asked when presented with the diagnosis. The next question they asked was, Why not us? It is a question to ask, even in the most difficult of times. When things are going wonderfully in our lives we don’t ask the “why us” question. When the proverbial “*#*” hits the fan, often this question is the one that gets asked. Why Us?

Why not us? This is life and none of us are immune to the bad stuff that comes down. What we do with this question can reflect who we are. For my niece and her husband, they have answered the question and they are coming up fighting. More than anything else, they understand that they need to be the strong advocates for their baby. He is too young to take this on himself and this is what parents do. They also know that it is time to call in favors. Forget the stoicism.

Mom and Dad are already setting boundaries. They have asked that no one give them their worse cancer story. Why we humans do this, I am not sure. I heard many when I was going through treatment for breast cancer. Below I have posted a link to the Caring Bridge website that has been set up for Ward. If you contact them there, give them all the positive stuff you can.

The extended family is asking this same question. Why Us? Well, Why Not Us? How we confront adversity, shows our mettle. This large extended family is rounding up the wagons. My sister (Ward’s grandmother) has already made the two day drive to be with them through surgery and beyond. The rest of us, no matter the distance, are supporting, loving and doing what we can to let this family know they are loved and supported and will never be in need.

They have a large, strong community behind them. Trip is a pastor and Brittany is a Youth Minister. Wow, two whole churches of people who will love them and support them. If only the rest of us could have that many behind us. They are loved by their church communities. If you ever met them, you would understand why. They are two delightful and engaged pastors, loving friends, who share a great joy in life, even when the worse happens. And during doubt and uncertainty this background will hold them together and make them stronger, as individuals, as a couple and as parents.

If you want to follow this child in the months ahead, the parents have set up a Caring Bridge site for Ward. The following link will take you to the web site. Ward Porch-Caring Bridge  You do need to sign up to receive updates. The site will not sell your email address. This site is set up, so that one can communicate with the well wishers and supporters without having to tell the story again and again.

I have also added a Caring Bridge Link to the left side of this blog. It is easy to click on that link, whenever you are visiting this page.

Please send prayers to this family. Love them and hold them close, whatever that means to you. All those good thoughts will give more love to them as they walk through this hard time.

We’re Just Walking Each Other Home.

 

 

 

 

 

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It Is All About the Journey

A little over four years ago I began a journey in a little white Roadtrek, Rv. Little did I know it would become my permanent home, for now. It has been quite a journey for me and Miss Elsie the Cat.

As I reflect back on the beginning of this blog, yes I do go back and read entries, I recognize how far I have come. Some of those first entries were pretty raw. That is how it was during that time. Today I may still not be sure where I am going or what I am doing with the “rest of my life” yet I am out there experimenting and trying out my new wings that had to sprout after Jim’s death.

I don’t know if any answers have arrived to the many questions I had and still have today, yet I do recognize that I have grown and matured, well maybe a little. Grief is not easy. Some get through it in less time than others. I thought that three months after Jim’s death I would be done with it. I was wrong. I am able to recognize the steps I have taken. Most have been so small I don’t recognize them as they happen. I have to ponder on it and then there is this little tiny aha moment where I can see the change.

I have been traveling, this time, since early September. I have been exploring the southwestern United States. I have seen some beautiful places and amazing natural things. Nature has been at my beck and call or really, I have been at natures beck and call. I have wandered through Utah, sleeping in a tent, again, for part of the trip. I enjoyed the ruggedness and beauty of the back country. I enjoyed the company of two good friends, Mary Z and Linda, who willingly tolerated my sensitivity and stumbling. It was a good trip and one I am glad I took on.

I spent about two and a half weeks on my property in southern Colorado. The biggest decision of this trip took place while camped on the land. I have decided that 45 acres of property was more than I could take on. I was able to camp on the land and mourn the passing of this part of my life that was really Jim’s and mine.

Remember to click on the pics. It will enlarge them.

When I get back to San Diego and get the paperwork together, the land will go on the market. I am glad I spent the time I did on the property. When I made the decision to sell it, I felt relief and a sense of rightness. It makes me sad to see it go. I hope that someone else will care for it and love it as much as Jim and I did.

After Utah and Colorado, I started to visit places I had never been to before. Even more than the amazing places I have seen, the second part of this trip has been about friendships, new and old. I have met some really fun and interesting people since my arrival at Big Bend National Park. In other posts,  I have told you about a few of them.

Amazing 

&

Beautiful

                                        Places

Since Jim’s death I have withdrawn from people to a certain degree. I have learned that being around people can be exhausting. Even more than that is the fact many feel that it is time I leave my love and caring for Jim behind. But I have learned something – I can move forward in my life and bring my memories and love of Jim forward with me as I establish myself in my world as it is today. I can meet someone new if I want and the memories and love will only enrich any type of relationship I have from this moment forward. I have been forming new friendships with depth and meaning and fun. I am thankful that I am a more whole person for those memories. Will I continue to carry memories of Jim with me as I move forward? You bet. Will this stop me from forming all kinds of wonderful relationships? Nope.

Since my arrival at Big Bend I have been having fun. It is an easy and wonderful kind of fun. I thank the women and couples,  I have been meeting for helping to bring that part of myself forward. Peggy, Mary and I are all living full time in our rigs. Each of us is doing it in our own style. One designed her rig so she could sleep on the streets and no-one would suspect that it was an RV. Another travels with her dog and cat. She stays in one place for longer. I have been learning from these ladies and am very glad to have met them and the menagerie of animals that accompanies all of us. I have laughed more. I have enjoyed the easy company of these women. We all meander and we have been having fun.

Mary, Janet & Peggy * Roxie the Dog*

There are all kinds of relationships in this life. I really don’t mind having to work hard at relationships. If the relationship is good then it is worth the effort. I have been discovering the joy of easy relationships. I like the pure joy of discovering that people like me just for who I am. I can laugh easier and talk more profound with easy acceptance. I am rediscover joy. How cool is that?

Now I am getting ready to return to San Diego, for a little over two months. Elsie and I are going to move out of the RV and into a studio rental for this time period. I am looking forward to it. Although it is only a studio it will seem a bit large to the two of us. We have been living in a very small space. I am looking forward to this with excitement and a bit of fear. Ah, there it is, my friend and ally, fear. I feel that it is time to see how this feels. Is San Diego suppose to be my home? I don’t know. Staying in one place for a little while may help that knowledge to become clearer. Or, it may help me to acknowledge that I really like this lifestyle for now. I am preparing for a new part of the continuing adventure of life. It is going to be so nice to visit with my friends who have been such a major support in my life, before and since Jim’s death.

And so the journey continues. I look forward to it with anticipation and just a wee bit of trepidation. I am human. I am glad for my side kick Elsie. She is getting braver too. We reflect each other. I will continue to take you on my journey as it unfolds. Today the desert, in a few days, San Diego.

COME ON ALONG.

Oh The Places I Have Been-a post by Elsie the Cat

Elsie the Cat here. I have been one traveling kitty. I have seen big mountains and lots of sand and met up with some more dogs. I am one traveling kind of kitty.

It is hard for a little six pound kitty to see the big wide world. I am so glad for my tiny house on wheels. When things get to overwhelming I run for the rig. I know this is my safe place. Every kitty needs one. It becomes a bit hard for it to be safe when Janet, says, “Oh bring that dog in, Elsie is used to them”. Hmmm, I wonder how she got that idea. Being used to them and having them inside are two totally different stories.

Sonny

While we were staying at City of Rocks State Park, I met up with Sonny. He came in my house but only stayed a little bit. He was skittish and so was I. What is that dog doing in my house? He didn’t stay long, so it was OK. Sonny belongs to a new friend of Janet’s, Connie. She rides the same kind of RV as Janet.

Roxie

Then I met Roxie. She belongs to Mary. Another Roadtreking fool. Roxie was a different story. Roxie and I got to hang out for the greater part of an afternoon, while the people went off somewhere. This was not our choice. I even had to give her a hiss a swipe, just to let her know who was in charge. I couldn’t even get a decent afternoon nap. I had to keep one eye on Roxie all the time. I let Roxie have the back bed and I laid on the counter top so I could keep watch. I slept really good that night.

Roxie travels with her own kitty, Frank. I think Frank is a bit nuts to tolerate a dog. Janet better not try getting a dog while I am around. Whew, I was glad when that day was over.

Roxie & Frank

Now Janet and I are back on our own. I  like that. It has been a while since I have had her all to myself, although most of the time it doesn’t matter because I like to sleep a lot. Sleeping is really important to me. I love it. I really love it when I am undisturbed.

I am braver now. For the past month or more I no longer sleep under the sheepskin. I now sleep on the passenger seat. I think it is important to keep an eye on Janet. She tends to take the road less traveled.

For the last three weeks we have been way more social than what I am used to. I am not sure I like this social stuff, yet I am getting used to it. Although everyone has their own rig, Janet has been hanging out with other travelers. I have had to get used to the fact that Peggy often took my seat in the evening. She said that it was actually Janet who took my seat but I know better. I protested a little and then went to sleep on the front dashboard.

Where have we been since we finished up riding with another Mary, in September? With Janet’s help, here is a list.

  • Our land in Colorado-near Durango
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains State Park (I really liked it there), and Marfa
  • Big Bend National Park-lots of mountains and a big giant river. I saw my first Javalina-a strange and interesting looking thing.
  • Silver City, NM
  • Gila National Monument
  • Guadalupe National Park-we camped in a parking lot.
  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • City of Rocks State Park-there were a lot of coyotes there and owls.
  • Oliver Lee State Park
  • White Sands National Monument. This one was just one huge giant sand box. Janet took me out and I did not like it one bit. The wind was blowing and sand was everywhere. I like my litter box-thank you very much.
  • Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area and Campgrounds
  • We stayed at the St Clair Winery in Demming, NM for two nights. We could here owls right outside our house at night.

Now Janet says we are on our way to San Diego. I know I have been there before but I am not sure why we are going there. Janet says we are staying put for a few months. Hmm, that should be interesting. I will wait for this to unfold as I am sure it will. Until then I believe it is time for me to get some sleep. Nap time!!!

Big Bend National Park is a People Experience

I have been in Texas for a few weeks. I kept thinking I was going to Big Bend National Park but I kept getting diverted. There is so much to see and do. I now have the time to explore. It is fun to pull into little towns, wildlife refuges and more. I like casually exploring.

Since my last post I have explored a very small section, of a very large state. Texas is 1.26 times as big as France. It is a huge state. Big Bend is a large National Park and it takes up a wee tiny spot in Texas. See the spot of green on the Texas map. It is above the Texas decal on the map. That is Big Bend.

The Indians said that after making the Earth, the Great Spirit simply dumped all the leftover rocks on the Big Bend. This park is a very rugged mountainous area and recieved it’s name from the big bend in the Rio Grand River, which follows it’s southern border. It is certainly a land of dichotomy. As part if the Chihuahuan Desert, it is arid and dry. Everything either pokes, sticks or scrapes. It is an environment that is always defending itself, for food and mostly water. Yet right along the southern border is this marvelous river and a delicious, green riparian zone. It attracts birds and other wildlife that might not be seen in the desert. Like I said a land of dichotomy.

Big Bend National Park

click on the pic to see it full size

When I first arrived here it was hot. I am not a fan of heat. On the third day a front went through and  the temperature changed over 40 degrees from the 90’s to the 40’s. It was hot and then it was cold. What the heck is with that?

I met another solo RV’er while I was on the east side of the park. Peggy is full timing in her small rig. She was fun and willing to give most things a try. We hiked and toured and most of all laughed together. It was fun to be with someone else. We even took the ferry (a rowboat) across the Rio Grand to Mexico for a few hours. Don’t even get me started on the burro episode.

Today we parted ways but are planning on meeting up again before I head west to San Diego.

I met John and Carol on the west side of the park. They invited me for dinner. I miss having company for my meals so this certainly was a delight. Their excitement was when I told them that I had ice cubes. Margaritas taste just that bit nicer when chilled with ice. 🍹

I enjoy the company of others. It gets a bit lonely sometimes out here on-the-road. Most times I do not mind being alone yet it is certainly nice to have the company of others. I find that after being on my own for a time, I have to make sure I give other people a chance to talk. Maybe i should carry a talking stick.

It is fun to share experiences. It is interesting to share our experiences of living in our small homes on wheels.

Now I am on my way north and west. I am not sure exactly where I am going yet. There are more things to see and do out there, and hopefully more fun and interesting people to meet.

Stay Tuned.

The End of Daylight Savings Time

Does anyone else dislike the shortening days of fall? I have found that for several years now, I am not as tolerant of the shortening days and the less brightness and warmth of the sun. Maybe I don’t like introspection. Maybe I just like more day light. I am certainly not looking forward to the end of daylight savings time. Whose idea is DST any how?

In many of the traditional cultures fall is the time to come inwards. It is a time of harvest and reap the rewards of hard labor. Preparation is on for winter. Without storing enough grains and foods you might not have enough to help your people make it through the coming long winter months. It was time to make sure that their homes were secure, there were enough blankets and bedding. It was a community affair. It was a busy time.

Many animals are also preparing for winter. They are gathering food stuffs for their nests. Bears are eating their fill, in preparation of sudo-hibernation in the lower 48. Birds and rodents are busy gathering nuts and seeds. Ants are doing the same.

Although my culture does not follow the traditional cultures, in many ways we do the same thing. My sister and her husband make sure they have enough wood for the winter, so they can stay toasty warm in their northern NJ home.

I grew up in a family where we put by food for the winter. August and September were spent canning our garden harvest. Although we could go to the grocery store, that old tradition of putting up food for the winter continued. We had a cold cellar to store all the canned goods and potatoes.

Spiritually, fall is also a time to come inwards. It is a time to reap what we have accrued over the past half year. It is a time to begin to come inward and begin to reflect on what we have sowed.

There are times I find it hard to come inward. It is then that I realize I still have a ways to go regarding grief and loss. I find I am more lonely now. Reflection is not always easy and yet necessary as long as it doesn’t drag me too far down. It is good to look at my progress. It is good to take time to be quiet. I just wish that the sun was not dimmer and the days were not shorter.

I am chasing the sun. I am now in southern New Mexico. I have spent the last week in Silver City, NM. The past two days I have been at the Gila Cliff Dwelling in Ruins. It is in the most amazing valley. Yesterday I saw the ruins and a spotted owl. It is interesting, the story of these native peoples. It is even more amazing to see where they lived.

Today I am hiking along the West Fork of the Gila River. It is definitely fall here. I am camped along the river at a natural hot springs. I go soak before I go to bed at night and when I get up in the morning. Not a bad way to contemplate life.

The Gila Cliff Dwelling Ruins

click on the images to enlarge

From here I will continue to head south. My goal is Big Bend National Park. And when I am done there I will be heading for San Diego for at least a few months. My relationship with my dentist continues. And, it is doctor time. I have all my annual visits coming up. It is another way of coming in after a year of basically feeling healthy, on-the-road.

I wait hopefully for the return of the longer days. I celebrate the winter solstice every year, even if it is in a quiet way. I look forward to the warming sun and the longer days. Knowing that is coming helps me make it through the fall and shortening days. Chasing the sun helps too.

I guess I should be more like Miss Elsie and find a sunny spot, curl up and take a nap. Not a bad idea.

Another Year-Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The day after tomorrow will mark the sixth anniversary of Jim’s death. Time stands still. Time flies. It is amazing that it is six years since I last saw him. It is amazing that it has been six years since I last heard his voice. Well this whole process is pretty amazing and not always much fun.

I grieved when my mom died. I grieved when my dad died. I have grieved over the loss of friends and over the loss of others in tragedy, which we have seen so much of this year. The loss of Jim was different. I lost my life partner, my friend and my companion in mischief and dance. I describe the three and a half years leading to his departure, like a deck of cards thrown in the air. Just as they started to come down and I was picking them up, something else happened and the cards were thrown back up in the air again.

I am still picking up cards from six years ago. I didn’t know there were so many cards. Yet I have accomplished a bit along the way and each day I attempt to live life to its fullest. Some days it is a wee, tiny bit and other days are big a luscious and overflowing with awe and beauty.

I am beginning to realize that I may never have an answer to the question “What’s Next?” At my best I look for the large and small around me and find some marvel in it all. At my worst, I still find I can treasure my current surroundings and who I am.

  • I am not homeless.
  • I have this lovely little Roadtrek to call home.
  • My home is heated, which feels good on these chilly fall nights.
  • Elsie is always my faithful companion, in adventure and silence.
  • I know, oh how I know, I have many out there that support me daily, mostly in thought and prayer. Yet I know you are out there.
  • There are many books to read. On days where I don’t have much energy, I sit and read.
  • When I was younger I went through a short, period where everything was gray. I appreciate that I have never gone back to that place. I still can see and marvel at the loveliness of the places I visit and the people I meet. Color is a wonderful medium.
  • I have a family, sisters and nieces, that though not often heard from love me and support me.
  • And there is always my camera-I love taking pics even at my lowest.

There is always hope. In this coming year I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. I really don’t need to make far reaching decisions about anything. I want to focus on what is best for me at this moment in time, in this day and in this year. I want to experience a little more joy, wherever I can find it. And, although I am not sure I may want to settle down. I shall see on that statement.

I now understand a bit more of the statement from others that “you can move forward, while treasuring the moments Jim and you had”. I know that I can do both. And, ever since Jim’s passing he has been very good at helping me find my car keys. I have called on him more than once. This is one of the important reasons to keep him nearby as I adventure forth into life.

If you look on this site you will see a Go Fund Me tag. I have been raising money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship for 6 years. I am close to my goal of $25,ooo to make this a perpetual scholarship. I have about $8,000 more to go. I have been constant and steady in trying to raise this amount. If you would like to donate, small or large, some student out there at Grossmont Community College will thank you for your efforts.  I treasure each donation because I know about the thought and caring behind it. If you would prefer to donate directly to the college, here is their information.

Mail your donation to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Contributions are tax deductible

On to another year of discovery. Who knows what it will bring. I will continue to follow my own path, carrying the memories of my time with Jim forward. This year I pray that it will be just a wee bit easier. Each year seems to be getting that way. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for 21 years of love, caring and relationship. I am thankful for being able to have those memories to help me move forward with my life, no matter what direction it takes.

Today I am thankful.

 

 

 

A Day at White Pocket-Final in a series of three

 

White Pocket

There are moments in life, I believe, I will remember and carry forward with me for the rest of my life. Sometimes it is a chance meeting, Jim, or a wonderful movie or play. Often for me it has to do with nature. I love the outdoors. I love the wildness of it, the unpredictability of it. I have been known to stand in storms, watching the wildness of a very restless, big ocean with giant waves. Thunder-storms enthrall me. A perfect fall day, hiking through the woods can ease a restless soul.

When my friend and mentor, Mary and I arrived in Kanab, I was introduced to two good friends of Mary’s, Sky and Bobbie. They opened their driveways to us as well as their home. When camping there is nothing better than taking a nice, long warm shower. Bobbie and Sky were gracious and wonderful hosts. And–they gave me a day of their lives to visit White Pocket.

White Pocket

Mary and I have tried for reservations for “The Wave” several times. It is a place many want to visit for its natural beauty. They allow 20 people to hike in there a day. We were thwarted on each of our attempts to visit it. Sky suggested we visit White Pocket instead. He said that it is larger than the wave and just as beautiful, if not more so.

On a lovely fall morning I joined Mary, Sky and Bobbie for 4-wheel drive to White Pocket. The ride in was bumpy and definitely needed a high clearance vehicle to get to the formations. When I first walked into the area all I could say and think was “WOW”. It seems that this word applies to most of this back country journey into southern Utah, this fall.

A pocket is usually a small area of land, this one is approximately 1 square mile, that is markedly different than the surrounding area. White Pocket is a group of domes and ridges, white and gray being the dominant color. Doesn’t sound too interesting does it? But wait, Mixed in with the predominant color are yellows, reds, oranges and more and it is swirling. This area shows upheaval in geologic time.

Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

For a photographer it is eye-candy, everywhere. Yep, you can take a lot of photos here. The formations are beautiful, amazing and just wow. We climbed up and down being careful of the fragile formations as we explored this area for approximately four hours. Sky was our faithful and great tour guide. I don’t believe we missed much.

Off to the side was a cave with petroglyphs. I love this stuff. I have for years been totally fascinated by the ancient ones of the southwestern United States. I love to sit and imagine what their lives were like many hundreds of years ago. And where did they go? Lots of theories and yet no one knows for sure.

This was a memorable day. It was one more highlight of a three week journey that had many. It was the final highlight for me. I enjoyed the company of the people I was with for this day. I believe that Bobbie and I would be friends if we lived closer. I enjoyed spending time with her in the formations talking of deep and wondrous things. These are my kind of people.

Sky

Bobbie & Cyo (not sure of the spelling)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All too soon we returned to Kanab. The ride back from White Pocket and the Vermillion Cliffs was a beautiful late afternoon ride. The photo-ops continued to occur. The conversation was fun. After spending one more delightful evening with Sky and Bobbie, Mary and I departed. She was heading north and west to Oregon and I was heading east to Durango.

The Drive back to Kanab

Departure was hard for me. I enjoyed the company of the people I traveled with as much as I did the awesomeness of the places I saw. It was hard to say goodby. Teachers come in all forms in my life. People come and go, sometimes for a brief moment and others stay much longer. I can’t thank Mary enough for being a good friend and mentor. Linda, the other travel companion at the beginning of this adventure hopefully will be a life long friend. I can’t thank these two women enough for including me in their adventures and lives. Hopefully we will travel together again. Chance meetings, Bobbie and Sky and Bob in Escalante make me feel so honored and special to have met them and even for an instant, shared their lives, feelings and laughter.

Mary, Linda, Janet

Today I am thankful for September, for the wide open expanses, for the quiet, peace and solitude of the back country.

Today I am thankful for friends.