If there is one constant in a fulltime RVer’s life, it has to be the D on the transmission indicator on our dashboards as we head out in the morning. The only time we put it in R to back up seems to be when we are parking our rigs at the end of the day. A scene from the movie Gumball Rally pops into my head where an Italian race car driver named Franco looks at the guy in the passenger seat and says “First rule of Italian driving…” as he reaches up and snaps off the rear view mirror and tosses it out of the car “…what’s behind you isn’t important”.
And while Diana and I like to examine the history of the locations we visit, there is still that forward movement of wondering what’s over the next hill or around the next bend. Shift to D, turn on the radio and step on the gas. It’s right about that time when life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you that Franco’s statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Part of our preparations to leave Florida and head west have been to take care of authenticating our mortality, so to speak. In other words, preparing wills and similar paperwork. Our home base is the Sunshine State, so this is the place to take care of that business. Traipsing our caravan across the country in two separate vehicles places a greater need for such documentation, especially when one of us has 14,000 pounds following in close proximity. Snapping that rear view mirror off would be ill-advised! So we plowed through the perpetual paperwork (pardon the pun), moving forward with our feet on the gas…just wanting to get it completed. On St. Patrick’s Day, we had a noon appointment to sign our wills and have them witnessed and notarized, so we went about our morning routine in preparation for the meeting. That’s when I sat down in my recliner and checked my phone. There was a text from my former coworker Barb that read, quite simply “Hey. Just wanted to make sure you heard about Richie.” Well, considering Richie was one of the two people I kept in somewhat regular touch with from work (Kenny being the other) and it wasn’t him telling me what happened to himself, I knew this wasn’t going to be good. So I casually replied “No, what’s up?”, hoping to hear he won the lottery or something. It was not to be. A flurry of texts came in from Jeff, Stephen and Barb to tell me he had passed. From what has been told to me since, he had kissed his beloved wife Connie goodnight, took a few steps towards the bedroom and collapsed from a massive heart attack. 62 years old, planning on retiring and looking forward to having more time for golf. Now don’t get me wrong…Dickey-boy had a lot of fun in his life. In addition to golf, he loved NFL football and his Detroit Lions, along with classic rock music. He knew several people in the music industry, played a little guitar, and was close friends with the members of Foghat.
Our VP, Joel, took this tongue-in-cheek photo of us, poking a little fun of the long-standing brothership we shared. I proudly own that, as we worked side by side for 30 years and had each other’s backs. He thought the world of Diana, and we indeed are both going to miss him. The irony of finding out as we were about to sign our wills wasn’t lost on us, nor was the fact that the beach bar we toasted him at was playing classic rock instead of the usual trop-rock.
It dawned on me later that one of the songs playing was The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Nice song selection, Richie…looks like you just picked up a DJ gig upstairs. 😉
Suddenly, I noticed I had eased off the gas and had slipped the shifter to N. Instead of thinking about our upcoming trip, I found myself pondering the past. We were fortunate enough to meet up for dinner with Bob and Pat from Michigan Traveler, and Bonnie and Fred from HappiLEE RVing this last weekend. Bob and I both grew up in Allen Park, Michigan, and we spent a week together at Wild Cherry, so we have a lot of past in common. Fred and Bonnie and us met at the RV-Dreams Rally and we’ve seen each a couple times other since, so we have a fair amount of history. Bob and Fred are both retired military, and the couples spend a fair amount of time at the US military FamCamps, so we thought it would be fun for them to meet.
It was good to pause and reflect a bit and catch up on everybody’s lives. 🙂
Just after that, we had some business we needed to take care of up in Green Cove Springs. We saw that Linda and Steven, our friends we met at Amazon, were very close by. We contacted them, and they invited us to join in on a lunch date in Jacksonville they had with Howard and Linda, founders of RV-Dreams. It was those two who’s seminars at a Grand Rapids RV show in January of 2014 provided the final nudge to get us on the road. With no firm plans to leave our jobs at that point, their presentations caused us to go home and crunch some numbers. By March 21 of that year, I was retired, and Diana was done at work by July 1.
Our lunch turned into a wonderful two hour conversation on what this journey we are on means to all of us. Not only was the future discussed, but the past was reflected upon. I detected a few misty eyes on a couple of heartfelt points that were made. We were so engrossed in what everyone was saying, we didn’t notice that the servers had turned up all the chairs at the surrounding tables and the restaurant had closed over a half hour earlier. Yeah, it was that good. What finally caught our attention was the silence during a pause in the dialogue. The music had stopped playing. Oops…time to head down the road!
We spent the night in St Augustine and toured there with Steven and Linda the next day.
They had not been there before, and they wanted to see Castillo de San Marcos, among other things.
It was fun to experience St Augustine with them and look forward to all the plans we have for the future!
I called Kenny last night. We reminisced and had some laughs, along with sharing what we are currently doing in our lives. It was really good to hear his voice again. So while everyone I’ve interacted with over the past week are ready to shift into D to see what’s around the next bend in their lives, life itself provided us with a bit of a lesson that we ought not forget the images in the rear view mirror.
Even though there is sadness mixed into the joy in our memories, we need to listen to the music of our youth and laugh at the silly pictures in our minds. As George Harrison sang “I look at the world and I notice it’s turning. Still my guitar gently weeps…”
Rock on, Richie…Rock on.
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