In August, I posted photos of my trip to Idaho for my Oldest Son's wedding. His new bride is someone I liked from the moment I met her. And her family are the type of kind-hearted people you want your son to marry in to.
At that very same time, we were learning that my Dad's seemingly minor surgery prep (cataract removal to improve his vision) resulted in finding lumps. A lump in his head. A lump in his lung. At the wedding in August, I learned that he was withholding information from me - he had three months to live.
As soon as I was able, I asked him if that was true. He told me he'd be gone in November. My dad was an ornery, intelligent, hard-working man. He was a man of his word. Even to the end. He passed on November 30, 2015.
|Me and my Dad|
I traveled from Idaho, back to Baltimore, then back and forth from Baltimore to Indiana multiple times. I spent periods of time with Dad as he prepared to pass away. And I spent brief moments filled with great joy in my Youngest Son's family home. We chased each other with "spiderwebs" around Halloween. We watched Inside Out and I Lava You several times. And we just spent quiet time together. My grandbaby is precious and my son's presence is a healing thing for me.
I had a dog named Daisy. I loved that dog and miss her to this day.
While fostering a sweet dog named Sugar, people became aware that I was saving room in my home and heart for another rat terrier some day. That day came when a rat terrier needed a home and Sugar's family contacted me. Was it coincidence that this dogs name was Daisy too? I think not. I agreed to pick her up when I returned from the wedding. I am a three "baby" home. Willy, Mittens, and new Daisy.
Now to some background - the beginning of all of the changes. Prior to the wedding (and prior to learning of my father's health crisis) I finally made the right decision to change jobs. I was hired prior to the wedding and scheduled to begin after the wedding.
As a brand new employee, I missed periods of time on a new job while traveling to see my Dad. It was a surreal time. But I could not have made a better decision about changing jobs. Making that transition was one of the best decisions I've made in many years.
Initially, I planned on transferring my meager retirement fund from the old job to new job. But the reality of the cost of travel quickly set in and I decided to cash out that retirement account. I am vaguely aware that at age 51, emptying a retirement account is financially the wrong thing to do. But I lived check-to-check, often with $12 to spare each pay period. I needed travel money. To assuage some of the guilty feelings, I promised myself to reinvest some of that money into land. Land that I could live on in my retirement. And the closer I could get to paying cash for that land, the better.
I have been dreaming of homesteading and moving to off-grid land for years. Much of my free time was spent browsing "land for sale" ads. I chose a small piece of land on top of a West Virginia mountain ridge. It includes a plywood "hunting cabin" that we lovingly refer to as The Shack.
On a chilly autumn day, I drove from Baltimore to a small town in West Virginia for closing on the land. I was not able to pay for it in full, but I managed to borrow a relatively very small amount. After I signed, I drove to the shack and sat for a bit. I sat quietly looking west across the valley. Wondering about the mysteries of life.
Then I hopped in the Jeep and drove west to Indiana to sit with my dad for awhile.
This New Year
It is now nearing the end of January 2016. I am still reeling from all that has happened. I am a changing person. Oh, we all change. Whether we move forward or regress, we always change. There is no staying the same. My dad used to say something like that. He'd say "you move forward or backwards, you don't stay the same". He usually said that to me when I was a teen and not doing what I should. But oh how right he was.
My year was certainly full of change.There was not a nice and tidy linear timeline of events as each change completely intertwined with the next. Each event led me forward to today. And today is full of promise and love.