Driving West, The Cancer Word, Moving On

Sunset over Lake Erie

In mid-September I left New Jersey and my sister’s home and began heading west. Elsie the cat and I moved back into our little home on wheels and took off. I have been slowly making my way west, exploring Pennsylvania, stopping to visit family in Ohio and taking time to bird watch along the south shore of Lake Erie.

I spent three lovely days visiting good friends, Helen and Norb, in Chicago before once again heading west. I am now in Lincoln, NE visiting with good friends, waiting out a cold front that is coming through before once again heading west.

For all of my friends that are experiencing very cold conditions at night, I am afraid I am going to bypass you this time. Why? 10 degrees F. is just a bit too cold for my rig. I am going to be driving south and then west so I don’t have to winterize my little home on wheels.

I will arrive in San Diego on October 20. I am scheduled for surgery to remove the other half of my thyroid on October 25. With the support of my doctors I put off this surgery until after my grand summer vacation in Africa. Now I have to move ahead. I guess the vacation is over.

I have been contemplating, otherwise known as thinking, about my life coming up. I am nervous about this surgery. I am apprehensive about the outcome. A few days ago I woke in the morning with the realization that I am experiencing the “C” word for the second time in my life and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, a bit nervous, and a bit scared, and a bit emotional. Ah life continues to hand out the surprises.

There is another feeling I have been experiencing this time with cancer and that is the sense of feeling very alone in this big wide world. When I had breast cancer, Jim was alive and was my major every day support. This time I am having to create my support team. And, honestly?, I am missing Jim.

After seeing Jim go through head and neck cancer I swore that was the one type of cancer I did not want to tackle. Now here I am. I am trying very hard to separate the two experiences yet that is hard to do. I know they are different kinds of cancer but seriously who cares? Cancer is cancer and it is a hard thing to handle.

I know I have heard all the words; “I have a friend (aunt, sister…) who had thyroid cancer and they had their thyroid removed and are fine”, “If you are going to have cancer, this is the a good cancer to have” (that is a horrible thing to say to someone, there is no good cancer to have), “you will be just fine” (how do you know?), “God never gives you more than you can handle” (bull on this one-don’t ever, ever, ever say this to anyone-ever), “It is a simple surgery” (What? there is not simple surgery). And the words go on.

On the positive side of this is that my friends are stepping forward.

  • During the weekend of surgery, Nancy is taking care of Miss Elsie.
  • Cynthia and Ward are taking me into their home to love me pre and post op.
  • Phyllis, I know, will be waiting in the wings to help however I will let her.
  • Helen and Dave, my friends in Lincoln told me to let them know if I need them and they will get into their tiny home on wheels and head west. (this was enough to bring tears to my eyes)
  • My friend Sharon, in southern Utah wants to be contacted post surgery so she can, from a distance love and support me.
  • My immediate family are too far away to physically help out, but I know they will be supporting me from a distance.

I am more than a bit overwhelmed by my friends near and far who will be loving me as I face this newest challenge in my life.

And in the midst of all this “C” stuff well here I am, once again in another October. Today would have been Jim’s birthday. Yesterday he went into the hospital for the last time. Six days from now I have a birthday. The day after my birthday Jim died. Now I have surgery on the 25th. Well isn’t that an actioned packed month. October seems to be more and more a month I struggle to get through. I appreciated when November 1 comes around.

Isn’t this an uplifting post? I have always tried to be honest with who I am in the moment and what I am going through. From the moment I posted my first post I told myself to write from the heart and I hope that I have succeeded in doing this.

Today this is who I am and tomorrow, well, I may be different. Tomorrow I will be moving south and west. Just like the other snowbirds I am heading to the sun and warmth. To my friends in San Diego, I will see you in about ten days and I look forward to reuniting with you.

In the meantime I will drive and explore and be amazed at the places I see. I will remember to breath, deeply and long and relax. And yes the camera will be coming out and join me for the ride. Miss Elsie is as always is my sidekick. I am looking west toward the rest of my life.

Slowly, Very Slowly Moving East

Zion National Park

Mojave Desert

After a beautiful drive across the Mojave Desert, last Monday, I arrived in southern Utah. I planned on a few days outside Zion National Park (ZNP) and then would be on my way east. I am here a bit longer than I expected.

A good and very long time friend, Sharon, is in need of some assistance so I am going to be here through the end of the holiday weekend and depart next Tuesday. She was in an accident and is bruised and banged up with a few fractured ribs and sternum tossed into the mix. This is what friends do for each other. They help each other out. It is my honor.

This is not a hardship. I have known the whole Hatfield family since I was a girl and I love this woman dearly. We have ample time to talk and relax in each other’s company. And when she is off to take a snooze, ZNP and surrounding areas are there for me to explore. It is amazing country out here and I never tire of walking off down a wash to see what I can find.

Sharon has a lovely yard. It is big and currently needs grooming. Since she cannot tackle it, in her current state, I am gardening for her. There is nothing I love better than getting some gardening gloves on and digging, prune the trees, pull up weeds, and get things organized. It is probably the one thing I miss, living my current lifestyle. I love the smell of dirt and loam. Earlier in the week it was raining, which brings all the smells forward. There is no other smell like it.

Elsie and I are camped in the driveway. I chose to live in my small space this time, rather than finding a bedroom to sleep in. I have gotten quite comfortable in my cozy tiny home on wheels. Miss Elsie the Cat has too. I spend my day letting Elsie out and into the rig. She has discovered the catmint in the driveway and is a happy camper lying in the midst of it. When Elsie is out, Dharma the dog is in. When Dharma wants to go outside, Elsie goes back into the rig. I am the animal monitor. Who is in and who is out. I definitely need to stay on top of this. Dharma would like to meet Elsie but Elsie is not so fond of this idea. So I remain the door monitor.

Having been to this park many times before (it is good to have friends that live so close), I have not felt a great urge to hike every trail. Instead I have wandered from Sharon’s home and explored what I can find on foot. The Virgin River is at the end of the drive. It is an easy walk. Currently there is a lot of water in the river which adds so much drama to a river visit. When not there I have wandered the town of Rockville. I have visited the cemetery and meandered the side roads. This is a delightful and quaint little town. And, how convenient that it is so near the entrance to ZNP. On Monday I may decide to explore it by bicycle. That would be a new experience for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so my adventure unfolds a bit at a time. I have rather enjoyed the slow pace yet I know that I need to move east. Africa awaits. Next stop southern Colorado.

Friends

I wasn’t planning to post again until after my Wednesday visit but….this will be short.

I have all kinds of friends in my life. Long term ones, short term ones, ones who are occasionally there and ones I can rely on through thick and thin. I love them all. Sometimes I mistake what one friend can or cannot do. This is often my assessment of a situation that turns out incorrect. Mistakes can also come as lessons I need to learn.

This morning I am sitting at this lovely campsite and trying to figure out where to stay in San Diego. Yvonne is a friend who has surfaced since Jim’s death. She worked for him at the college. She is a fellow tour guide. When I asked her to accompany me to my appointment on Wednesday, she said yes. She is going to get off work early so she can be my second set of ears, a very important role.

Today, Yvonne offered me her driveway to camp in. Oh my goodness this is exactly what I needed. I don’t need to ponder and think alone in a campground for the next few days. She and her home, at the moment, are a gift to me. I am feeling blessed and overwhelmed and oh so grateful. It will be fun to catch up with her and Elsie will enjoy her backyard.

Today I am feeling grateful for all my friends in whatever form they take.

Today I am feeling so grateful for Yvonne.

Travel Themes

Sunset on Puget Sound

After spending two months in Northwest, I am heading, slowly south. Well I am picking up speed on Friday.

It has been a good summer and fall. I have figured out a few things about myself and this mode of living and travel. I have adjusted accordingly and I am more content, less lonely and have loved meeting new people. Elsie the Cat remains my faithful buddy in travel.

As I reflect back on the past seven months I have seen a theme emerge for this time period. Friends are wonderful, old ones, new ones and those not yet met. There is something about long time friends that is a bit of a mystery to me. I have visited with friends I haven’t seen in years and yet, when we meet it is like we just saw each other yesterday. Why is that? I love the feeling of comfort and acceptance this gives me. I hope my friends feel it too.

In the past seven months I have had the opportunity to visit with five very long time friends.

  • Joy I have known since high-school. We traveled together and laughed a lot. Thanks to her and her sister I was able to enjoy a real family Easter.
  • When I reach the east coast, Chris and I try really hard to connect. I have known her since my first job as a nurse in 1973.
  • I had the opportunity to travel with Leslie in Alaska for two weeks. We had not seen each other in a few years. We were roommates on a small ship Alaskan cruise. Not only did we have a fun adventure, we also had ample time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Helen and I explored Indiana together. She is one of those special friends we talk deep and still find plenty of opportunity to create adventure and laugh.
  • Melissa and I re-met after having not seen or communicated in over forty years. Wow-I swear it was just like yesterday.

I have know all of these friends for twenty or more years. It has been a special event to spend time with each of them. Each of our lives take their own path. It is so much fun when those paths intersect and we have time to catch up.

My good friends, getting ready for the Artisans Market

I have been in Oregon for the past week. I have another long time friend in Corvallis who I am visiting now. Kat and I met Scottish Country Dancing in San Diego. We became fast friends. We reconnected two years ago after a long period of absence. Her and her husband, Charlie are artists. Kat spins and weaves and Charlie is a potter and basket maker. The last time I was here I learned to dye wool with natural dyes. This time I an learning how to weave on a Turkish spindle. I have new beautiful yarns to play with and pet. Kat and I have had a week to catch up and enjoy each other’s company at a leisurely pace.

Today my RV is getting new shoes (tires). On Friday I am moving south. Once a year I return to San Diego to get “stuff” done. Over the next few months I will get my annual mammogram, visit with my doctors and see my dentist. Once I am done, I will be given the all clear and then I am ready to figure out what is next.

San Diego Here I Come

Heads up all you southern California friends, I am heading your way. Miss Elsie and I have been asked to house and chicken sit for good friends in San Diego. Ah the life of the urban farmer. We are house sitting for a month and then will move to a campground through the New Year.   I look forward with anticipation to visiting with all my San Diego friends, who have supported me faithfully since Jim’s death six years ago.

Today and every day I thankful for all of my friends. I feel blessed and special to know so many absolutely wonderful people.