In spring of 2009, while at Cal-Expo, we were joined on “The Slab” by wonderful new neighbors, Tom and Gloria. We were side-by-side for a week or so, enjoyed each other’s company, and exchanged email and blog addresses. We renewed our friendship while Odel and I were volunteering in Hood River, Oregon, last summer, when Tom and Gloria came to visit us on a day trip.
I kept an eye on Gloria’s blog, enjoying her reports on their travels. In September, I was shocked to read that Tom had suffered a stroke in South Dakota. Gloria continued to write her blog each night, and we followed Tom’s progress as he recovered from surgery and began rehabilitation. In December, Tom and Gloria were reunited with their motorhome in San Antonio, Texas, and outpatient therapy continued. We followed their progress eagerly.
Early in January, I caught up with Gloria’s blog just before I went to bed, a late night. The title, Home (click here to read it), did not prepare me for the message: Tom had fallen, suffered a significant bleed in his brain, and had not survived. Gloria’s blog post was simple, eloquent, and shocking. It was very hard to absorb.
We are here in Kerrville now, at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, to visit our friend Gloria and to remember Tom. We spent a couple of hours yesterday hearing the story of Tom’s stroke, progress, setbacks, the final accident, the memorial, and Gloria’s plans for the future. Gloria’s strength and wisdom are astounding. It felt good to share hugs and hear her story. Our reunion was full of tears AND laughter, and non-stop conversation.
Gloria has good friends in the park, Jim and Diane, and she arranged for us all to meet for dinner last night. It would be very difficult to find a more animated and hilarious group than this trio. Jim and Diane are also fulltimers, with outrageous stories. One of my favorites:
Driving through Arizona in their motorhome on a very windy day, they were towing their Kia with two kayaks in an “after-market” rack on top of the Kia. A couple of bikers pulled up beside them, motioning for Jim to pull over. When he stopped, the bikers told them that the kayaks and rack had come off the Kia. Oh, oh.
They unhooked the car and went back ten miles for the kayaks, but the rack was so twisted that it was unusable, and the kayaks wouldn't fit in their Kia. Jim flagged down a guy in a pickup truck and told him it was his lucky day - he could take the two kayaks ($4000 worth) for free. Jim says, "He looked at me like I was crazy and said 'Look around, man! What do you see? There's no water within 500 miles!'". Sooo funny.
Gloria, Diane and I went out today for a special tour of a privately owned collection of western art, and lunch afterwards. The talk and laughter was non-stop – a really super time. We feel lucky to have met Gloria and Tom, and now to know Jim and Diane.
We meet many, many people as we travel. Most are friendly, many are interesting. Every so often, you make that quick and happy connection that causes you to stay in touch, to go out of your way to make certain your paths cross again whenever possible. So it was with Gloria and Tom, and I hope we’ll find Jim and Diane along our travel route, too. It has been an exceptionally rewarding visit.
Tomorrow (Tuesday), we will say our goodbyes in the morning and hit the road. Hurray for email and blogs!