We are getting older. And so are our friends and family. And we are losing some of them, seven in the last few months. We remember all of them fondly.
My cousin, Sandy died last Fall.
Sandy grew up in MN, got married to Klaus, raised a family, and worked for many years at a Law office. We will miss her at our Senior Cousin’s lunch get-togethers.
Our friend Ted died in November.
Ted and Karen, were long-time Foretravel friends. They were full-timers for 13 years. They stopped and sold their coach just before Covid-19. We met up with them whenever we could. We played Quiddler (a card game) using ZOOM from wherever we were every couple of weeks. Ted liked to wear silly hats when we played. In Quiddler, you use your cards to spell words and Ted would always try to make a story with his words no matter how little sense it made.
We miss Ted. He was a steady hand for me during cancer treatments, always had a smile, was a bit contrarian at times, and a good and ready friend.
A dear friend and gracious and gentle lady, Shirl slipped away from us, her husband Norm, and her many friends towards the end of last year.
We had known them from our stays in Fredericksburg, TX where they spent the winters and went home to Colorado for the summers. Norm and Shirl moved to Fredericksburg full-time a few years ago.
Last winter when we were here in Fredericksburg she was feeling good. She was even going to Line Dancing and the Texas Two Step evenings wearing her fancy cowgirl boots.
I talked to her a couple of times, last fall. She kept her spirits up even as she began hospice care, her kids got to come and see her, and then she was gone.
There is an empty spot here in Fredericksburg without our friend Shirl. We still see Norm almost every day and many of her other friends in the RV park too on our daily walks with Maggie. Shirl is missed by everyone who knew her.
Another Foretravel friend, Brad, lived on a small farm in western Virginia. He liked the retired farmer lifestyle. He raised feeder calves from Spring to Fall. He had a collection of tractors for every job, a Foretravel in the barn, and a big selection of side-by-side and 4-seat ATVs. He had trails that he rode on at the farm but mostly like to take his favorite (usually new) off-road machine to the desert in Arizona in the winter and the sand dunes in Idaho in the summer. He would spend a couple of months at each place. We met Brad and his wife Phyllis at both places when we had our Jeep Wrangler and went off exploring with him. He was really surprised that our Jeep could do as well as it did in the sand dunes. I told him it was just like driving in the snow.
Brad was riding one of his ATVs on a trail on his farm and had an accident that left him with serious injuries. He died shortly after. He was in his 80s doing what he liked most of all.
Brad was quite a character who will be missed by many Foretravel folks, Phyllis, and his standard poodle best buddy, Barney.
Our friend Rudy was determined to get me to meet Chappell and his wife Mary Elizabeth who lived in Nacogdoches, TX. Chappell was a skilled woodworker because he wanted to be. Before he retired, he repaired and restored antique clocks at his shop in Houston. He brought all of this detail skill with him to Nacogdoches when they retired. Their home in Nacogdoches is like a clock museum. His small woodworking shop out back reminded me of pictures of Andy Rooney’s shop, stuff everywhere, piles of boards, machines pushed into every corner, projects underway here and there, and then emerging out the door with beautiful results. From a small box made from curly maple to a large cherry kitchen table, patience and skills learned over a lifetime were evident.
We shared our projects every time we met. We shared a lifelong passion for learning new skills and improving all the time.
Chappell was dealing with back pain when we last saw him less than a year ago. It didn’t get better and later in the year, they discovered it was because of cancer. He died shortly after this diagnosis.
Another friend from the Fredericksburg RV Park, Curtis, exemplified (to me as I imagined it) the kinder, gentler side of a Texas gentleman just as Chappell had. Curtis and his dear wife, Peggy, have been here in the same spot in the RV park as long as we have been coming here. They have a home on a lake about 60 miles north but spend most of their time here where friends are closer. Curtis died in early January.
Curtis helped us understand a lot of the personal level of Texas history, what it was like over the past few generations in the Hill Country. And he organized twice-weekly Texas Hold’em card games. What a collection of players, mostly serious and skilled about the game. Many who we’re no longer in the RV Park. It was a $10 buy-in, and the top three at the end of the allotted time shared to pot. Sometimes there was only one or two left.
Like our Quiddler games, everyone was willing to help the new guy learn. I sort of understood the fundamentals but my strategy was weak at best. I never won any money but always enjoyed playing and the players.
Susan’s cousin, Patsy (Patrica) died in February.
Patsy and her husband, Joe were long-time Florida residents and raised their family there. Patsy and Joe got back to see friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We would often see them when they did. Those trips got less frequent and then stopped after Patsy’s mom, Susan’s aunt, Jessie died.
We visited them once in our winter motorhome travels at their home near Orlando. We will miss Patsy too.
We start seeing this as more real as we get older. When we were younger and a grandparent or maybe later an aunt or uncle would pass away, it was almost surprising. This is what happens to old people, we thought. Wait, we are old people. When my Dad died 25 years ago it hardly seemed real for a long time. And then my Mom died, leaving my generation of cousins waiting for that surprise phone call about something we have now come to expect.
Treasure and celebrate your loved ones, friends, and family. Someday you may be the sole survivor.
More Later, Much Love,
Roger and Susan and Maggie Mae