The plan had been to blog my adventures along the way of 2200 miles to my hometown and back home again. I was excited about that, and believe, me I wrote a whole lot in my head. But when it came to getting it onto this blog, I either did not have time or was too exhausted. I spent a total of nineteen days in a whirlwind of travel and activity, one campsite to another, driving down the highway, visiting with precious cousins, finding my way down backroads. The twentieth day, the day I woke up in my own bed, my body protested, so the past week has been spent much in resting. Thus I move to plan B and share a spattering of meaningful lessons and memories.
One enormous lesson came in the form of disappointment on my second day of camping, when I discovered that the water leak beneath the galley sink, the same leak that the dealer service department had supposed to fix, twice, (and at great inconvenience to me) was in fact still not fixed. How do professionals not fix a problem twice? Just imagine my reaction when I looked in the cabinet beneath the sink and saw all the water. If you imagine me with my hair on end, you are correct. I grabbed towels and mentally castigated the dealer service manager. The good news is that I’ve learned to bring a lot of towels and the leak was relatively small, manageable with towels changed every twelve hours throughout the trip.
I telephoned my son: “I have learned something big about disappointment and quality of life.”
“Oh, yeah?” he said, his normal absentminded response.
“The quality of our lives is directly proportional to our ability to respond to disappointment.”
“Well, yes it is,” he said, and with a bit of a chuckle, as if wondering that I had not known this.
I thought happily that I had taught him better than I had taught myself. “I’ve known this, but I mean I really, really know it clearly now. I’m so happy to have learned.”
The entire rest of the trip, with every disappointment, I thought of something for which to be grateful: Thank you, God, that the refrigerator, the hot water heater, stove, wheels, microwave, are all still working wonderfully. Thank you, God, that I never have to go on the Atlanta bypass again. (The Atlanta by-pass needs a by-pass.) Thank you, God, that I also don’t ever intend to go on that section of I-85 again. Thank you, God, that I’m towing my own bathroom!
I learned how to level my camper with leveling blocks. When my camper ended up setting so crooked that I had to grab the counter to keep from flying out the door each time I neared it (ala Lucille Ball), I went to YouTube university. I had spent a great deal time worrying about and avoiding something that turned out so easy to accomplish. I think at least 80% of my worries are of that nature–meaning no need to worry.
I got to visit the church and cemetery of my ancestors on my maternal grandmother’s side–Springfield Friends Meeting Cemetery in High-Point, NC. Faith and I were welcomed right into the offices by the kind secretary. I found a few relatives’ headstones and later learned that the couple first buried in the cemetery, in 1780, are in our family tree.
Then on to my hometown.
I walked sidewalks I’d walked a hundred times before in my youth, and usually with my hand in that of ones now gone on before me. I could remember my feet crunching on cinder-paved driveways and even the smell of boxwood so prevalent.
I visited the graves of family members in cemeteries all over town. As one woman put it: “Your people are sure spread out.” The woman at the monument company kindly shared with me a product to clean headstones, and once began, I was cleaning all my relatives headstones. I post examples above to show the before and after. I discovered I enjoy the chore immensely and from now on, whenever on a trip, I’m going to keep Mold Armour (from Lowes in the paint department) handy, just in case I might get the opportunity to spiffy up a headstone.
And then Mama’s ashes were buried in her family plot and her headstone set in place. As I gazed at her simple and beautiful stone, I realized a great sense of completion. I sat in the grass. I took one of my cleaning rags and polished the stone. I felt as if I had finally laid Mama to rest, as strange as that sounds. Mama has been gone to heaven since 2018, and I find it hard to believe that she cares one way or another where her ashes end up. She was always, like me, of practical turn of mind. Yet, I realized quite starkly in that moment that the entire trip had truly been for that one act–seeing my mother home. Mama had loved her people, her hometown, her state very much. I think, too, that the trip had to do with my honoring my mother one last time, that it was important somehow, in a way I can’t fully understand, but that God does. He had prodded me until I had made the trip, and I had leaned on Him the entire way.
With my writer imagination, I pictured Mama and God smiling down at me.
My last day in the area was spent resting and enjoying a visit with local historian Brian Forehand. What a wealth of knowledge of the area and my family he provided! He told me about my great-great-grandfather on Mama’s daddy’s side. And Brian and I agreed that what he told me would remain our secret.