"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Feb 10, 2021

"If I don't come back, I'm dead."

At the moment I’m clearing out my beloved RV in preparation for heading East again. The circumstances this time are particularly sad, for my nephew, Christopher Jon Volk, passed away in his sleep last Friday night at the age of 49.  It’s still too raw for me to compose a fitting tribute for my Godson, but I thought I’d post a note about my intentions.  (Photo:  here's Chris on Mom's lap, with Dad and Chris's father, Scott, in the 1970s.)  I find it a comfort to know Chris is surrounded by loved ones already gone, not to mention his menagerie of pets.

Travels with Buttercup 2021. I’m heading back to support my sister Hillary. Of course she’s devastated and in shock; as only a parent can understand.

Grief is a universal malaise. Those who have passed on no longer endure the trials and tribulations of life on Earth; it’s those of us left behind who are suffering. I spoke those words knowing they hold little comfort, for when you’re in the depths of sorrow it’s very hard to get past your heartache to face the here and now. After Tino died I recall watching life continue as though through a filter; how can people act like nothing's changed?

So here we go, preparing to hit the road but in a car this time. BC’s watching my activity but she’s not as distressed as before past trips. I’ll never forget packing up to leave my first RV, toting armloads back and forth. I wish I had a camera, for when I went inside one time BC, still a puppy, was waiting for me with a little stuffed bone in her mouth. “Don’t forget this, Mom!”  Now she looks more like, "What, again?"  but she loves road trips. (And I won't forget the bone.)

This reminds me of when I left to move on to the boat, at least as far as what to bring, what to store and where, and what to sell or give away. You know how things happen to take your life in a different direction, and I’ve no idea how long I’ll stay in ‘Jersey. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, for I’m considering reaching out to old High School friends as long as I’m there.

I’m leaving my teardrop behind with friends because of weather and road conditions I might encounter along the way. Truth be told, I may talk the talk but secretly I was dreading dragging the thing across the country. Driving the RV was like a large truck, but dragging something lightweight, swinging behind like a fishtail? Hmmm…have I still got the nerve?

Well, the decision’s been made for me, so after I get new tires on Friday, car repairs next week (already planned for, and Oregon mechanics have to be less expensive than East Coast) and BC gets one last grooming (also cheaper here), we’re on our way, weather permitting.

As to the title? Well, the part I’ve left out is that I’ll be selling my home on wheels, it’s time. I’d have sold when my name hits the top of the Section 8 housing list anyway, which won’t be for who knows how long. Oregon has gone from a housing shortage of 140,000 units last year to 144,000 today, that’s going in the wrong direction.

Which could be moot if I don't survive crossing the country without catching Covid.  That doesn't worry me because other states (except Florida perhaps) can't be worse than Oregon.  People do what they want here, and back up their rights with concealed weapons.  Out for errands yesterday I watched school children (teens) walking, talking and gathering sans masks.  Either their parents feel the same way, in which case I'm happy to leave; or they don't and the kids go home and infect everyone, in which case I'm happy to leave.

Don't get me wrong, Oregon's a great state, except we're barely through vaccinating 3 percent of the entire population. I think there's time until it's my turn.  No one can tell me whether I can get vaccinated in another state, you'd think they'd allow it for the sake of HERD immunity.

So back to my debate of what to bring or leave behind: what if I don’t come back for awhile and need some of the things I’ve left behind, like my Christmas crafts or painted antlers, which took forever to dry after I wrestled it from the neighborhood pack?

That’s when it hit me this morning: “If I don’t come back, I’m dead,” and my friends can have their pick of  my remains, so to speak. That certainly helps with the decision-making process.  It also gives my friends, and me, a sense that I’ll be back at some point in time, like that proverbial Bad Penny.

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