by Ron Cook
I’ve always loved John Steinbeck’s book, Travels with Charley. John had terminal cancer, yet wanted to take a trip throughout the parts of the United States that he had not seen, before he passed this life. His family outfitted him with a specially designed camper/truck, and off John went with his poodle, Charley. It is my favorite book of that era. Loved it! (Charley has a lot of speaking parts…:-)
A year ago, on August first, I set out from Colorado to find my new life. Retirement rarely comes with a gold watch and a golf course condo for us gypsies (although I almost got one of those deals). I don’t have a terminal disease, but I do have an acute case of T.A B. (Temporarily Able Bodied). Let’s face it, none of us are getting out of here alive, right? I had been retired two years (finally), and needed a place where I could find Purpose, Spirituality, Community and Support. I did not want to live alone, yet I also did not want to be a burden to my family. During this year, the switch flipped from my sixth to a seventh decade. I know there are many folks in Louisiana that seek out camps, and travel, in these Golden Years. I thought I still had some gusto-to-go yet … what I found on the road was going to be beyond my wildest expectations.
The journey started with a day drive to Hartley, Texas from Florissant, Colorado; destination – a Catholic rest home operated by a loving retired couple and a wonderful Louisiana priest. I had spent eight days at the home earlier in June. I was on my way, at this time to an ACTS retreat in Louisiana, but wanted to touch base in Hartley. The home is spacious, housing three to four very elderly clients. For me, there were all four of my goals (PSCS, purpose, spirituality, community and support), but I wanted to experience ACTS first.
With their blessing I drove two more days to Alexandria. I drove north and east to avoid Dallas … OMG! I’ll use better GPS next time! So long a drive it was!!
I spent a few days visiting before the retreat. The retreat … was nothing short of SPECTACULAR! It lit a fire under me to seek the four goals in Louisiana (PSCS). I did find great joy in working with mission churches, soup kitchens, Ave Maria, nursing homes and the Salvation Army. I met many amazing Louisianians including the wonderful people who publish this online magazine. I found the P and the S, but couldn’t quite nail down the C or the big S all the way.
After a few months of joyous experience in Luzyanner … I moved on to my next stop, Florida …
Now Florida is where I got to experience condo-community living. But before I arrived, I had to make a compulsory epic journey through Hurricane Michael! I drove 100 miles north of where Michael had touched down, yet still found almost complete devastation. The roads were shut down, whole cities were without power, there was no gas, and no hotel vacancies! I slept in my car, then drove four hours the next day through Georgia to find a cup of coffee! I finally made it to the sunny state, and settled into a seven month stay…
The condo community was awesome! I got back into playing tennis three times a week after a twenty year layoff. Winter was mild, colorful with flowers, and active. I made many more new friends, found many supportive volunteer groups, and enjoyed baking bread. Once again, I had found the Purpose, the Spirituality, but not quite Community and Support I felt I needed. So … off again across country back to family in Colorado. I haven’t quite landed anywhere permanently. I am staying now with a spiritual-community where I am getting my feet back under my life.
Who knows where I’ll end up next …?
I don’t, yet will keep looking. There is a follow-up series of poems I wrote from different porches. It kind of feels like my journey has become a view from the front porch of life.
So be it … may your journey be joyous, exciting, productive with purpose and all the things you need. May you find people who need and love you … and may you have plenty of very good things to eat!
“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”