Celebrations, Hiking and Issues

On my mom’s birthday, when she turned 90, she was there for her first grandchild by her only grand daughter. She has four grand children, seven great grand children and her first great-great grandchild is due in a few months.

So much to write about, so little time! Yes, not enough time to keep our blog updated. We just blinked and three months have flown by. Our last post ended with a teaser of the birthdays we celebrated in August while in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We also had two anniversaries to celebrate. And then our oldest grandson started kindergarten and that was a reason to celebrate. And then he learned how to ride his bike without training wheels! And then there were the issues….Where to start? With the best of the best!

We had three celebrations on one date!  Let’s start off with a bang! We had a joint birthday party for my mom and our oldest grandson. She turned 95 and he turned 5. What a gift for her, her only granddaughter to give her a great grandson on her birthday, her 90th as pictured!

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Heart Disease: Metabolic Syndrome

We are a bit behind in our Travel posts. But we have been a bit consumed with our health concerns. Fortunately, it looks like we are on the road to recovery and hope our journey down this road might encourage others to have the best health possible!

Real life....

IMG_0851 April 2017. Bill has lost over 40 pounds and I’ve lost over 20. We didn’t try to do this, just changing our diet caused the weight to literally melt off! Our before picture is below.

Have you ever heard of Metabolic Syndrome? If you are like us, we never did, until December 22, 2016 when Bill was informed he had it. He was still reeling from the fact the week prior, he was told he was at risk for a massive heart attack and/or had heart disease. Like everyone who gets such a scary diagnosis, you never imagine it could happen to you.

In one way, it was a relief! It explained why Bill couldn’t lose a pound when he tried! We are a very active couple, living a lifestyle that demands activity. Or else, we chose this lifestyle because we love activity!

We love the outdoors, either to take…

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Heart Disease

From my personal blog. Our winter travels are officially over, but still have a few more blog posts. This post was what we were coping with all winter as we learned about heart disease and learned a new way of eating and better exercising. We also learned a lot about traveling although it’s been 3 1/2 years! We know one thing, we’re going to keep on keepin’ on!

Real life....

7 (1) Aren’t we the picture of health? Photo taken August 2016 Is it just us, or has anyone else noticed something interesting about pharmaceutical commercials these days? They show a good-looking couple, middle-aged (whatever that is to the viewer) out having fun: bike riding, playing golf, playing with their child or grandchild, walking and holding hands in a romantic setting? (Maybe like this picture?) Then the commercial begins, “See your doctor about taking XYZ drug.” Then in fine print and a VERY low and fast voice, you are warned that this drug could cause paralysis, blindness, heart attack, or some other more serious cause of death? And then as soon as that is over, a law firm advertises: ”If you have ever taken such and such drug and you have cancer, it’s been determined that drug caused the cancer and we will sue for $millions for YOU!” What’s with this?

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Growing Old Together!

I wrote this on my personal blog. But it fits here under our marriage category!
And I always pray when I learn of another couple divorcing. My heart aches for them. We understand. We’ve been through it. And then we had a miraculous reconciliation! That’s our hope and prayer for all concerned!

Real life....

Previously used in Arpita’s Life as guest blogger.

We’ve been members of and active in three churches. In the last church, I was on the visitation team. I loved visiting our shut-ins and people who just needed a friendly visit. Most of those I visited were on the elderly side, generally, 80 and older. I relished the wisdom they shared as we talked. Several of them said things to me that I’ll never forget and some I want to model into my old age!

One very dear man was bordering on depression. He had been such an active and very giving man. Always wanting to help others. He also used to do visitation, but now, he was the one in need. As we talked about his days growing up on a farm, he said he wished he knew he would live to be so old. He would not have played so…

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A tribute to my step-dad

Beautiful couple!

Beautiful couple!

What a blessing Clifford Duncan was to our family. He and my mom married in July 2003. Mom was beginning to lose her vision, but he gave her a new vision: Travel!

My mom and dad were married 54 years when he passed. Cliff and his first wife, Hazel, were married 49 years when she passed. So both knew the joys, tribulations and blessings a long marriage brings. Losing his wife was difficult. Talk about lonesome! He told me he prayed for a wife. And did I ever imagine my mom was praying for a husband? No, but in spite of living near family, she was lonely and with her loss of vision, her life was becoming more lonesome.

So that was the scenario when my middle sister and Cliff’s oldest daughter “fixed” them up after he had recently lost his wife to cancer. He and Hazel traveled extensively in an RV around the country, including to Alaska in a motor home! They started small and owned about every type they make. My parents owned a travel trailer, but they kept it in an RV resort. Mom always wanted to take it on the road, but my dad was a home body….so she finally got on the road with her new husband.

They dreamed of traveling cross-country together.   While Cliff and Hazel traveled extensively, it was mom’s dream. Mom especially wanted to make it to California to see one grandson and his family. He and his wife had four children, but it had been years since she saw them. Did I mention their ages? Mom was a spring chicken at the age of 79 and Cliff was on the older end of 69!  You really couldn’t tell they were 10 years apart in ages. Oh, if mom could see and read this, she’d be mad I’m telling her age (she’s now 92). So shhhhh…..

They began their journey, after selling his home, to be full-time travelers. And at the time, that was the last thing we ever dreamed of doing, ourselves (ha and look at us now). But we did admire them. My middle sister and her husband bought a Class A motor home and traveled with them for a while. And much of the time was spent in Florida so my husband and I would ride our motorcycle to visit them.

Full Time Travelers

They weren’t on the road long when they began to think they needed “roots.” Cliff had heard about a place in Alabama, where you could own your land and have full hook ups for your motor home. I said, gently, at your ages, you may want to live near one of your six children! Mom had 3 and he had 3. Well, since we lived in Florida, I always say we won that lottery! They moved near us. And my middle sister bought a snow bird home there was well. And eventually, Cliff’s oldest daughter and her husband semi-retired and moved there as well. So we had lots of great family times and especially for the holidays.

We kids helped put on a  beautiful and simple wedding. Then we entered the life of a blended family with six adult children.

Wedding Party

I loved Cliff right away because one thing he told me early on was that he reads the Bible every morning and had since 1994. And then he began reading it to my mom every morning. He was a regular church attendee as well. Mom always wanted the continuity of church membership. Cliff became such a wonderful blessing to her, how could I not learn to love him like a dad? And at my age, that was not going to be easy, but we quickly bonded.

Cliff and mom became active in their new church.  It had an outreach ministry to the community with a used clothing store. They worked in it faithfully until it closed.  I can’t begin to say all they did, but they were very active until recently. They even began to bowl with a group of friends from Sunday school. Imagine my nearly blind mom bowling. Yep and she wasn’t too bad.

Their days of traveling in the motor home soon came to an end after mom suffered a serious fall in one of the parks. It was so sad to see them have to slow down, but at their age, it was worrisome to all of us kids to know they were on the road full-time. They really didn’t plan their trips, just started driving, and then used an RV membership to find a place to stay over.

Eventually, Bill became more vocal about wanting a motor home, so Cliff helped him want it even more. They could talk for hours about the dream. We fell into a rhythm, where we mainly were together for the holidays. They did take occasional trips and eventually, their favorite place was Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

We did little things for them around the house that were difficult for them. In particular, I helped maintain Cliff’s computer. He amazed me at how he liked to stay up with everyone via email. We even got him and mom on Facebook to better stay in touch with family. But mom really struggled with it due to her vision loss. Bill considered him a friend.

Cliff was a real patriot. I love seeing the American Flag hanging outside of homes. It seems the only people who fly the flag were in the military. And that was Cliff. He served a tour of duty in the Army.

What was there not to like? He and mom were very loyal to each other. But they never imagined Cliff would pass first. But he did have a number of health issues. He is survived by five siblings, with only two siblings older, and he was the first to pass.  He was just so engaged in life, it was just hard to hear that he was terminally ill. He was diagnosed the end of March. He called each of us kids to let us know. We were in Talbot Island, Florida at the time, getting ready to head to Virginia, to be at our daughters April 1. What should we do? We didn’t think long about it. We turned our rig around and headed south and spent a week with them.  It was tough. He was told he had two months to live, maybe six if he took treatments. He decided to fight it and survived over eight months.

We also managed to visit them over Mother’s Day, then spent a month with them in September. We all thought the end was near, but he seemed to improve and the hospice nurse finally said he could last six more months or even six years. So he had a second chance and he began to get out and walk as well as change his diet to help his body heal from the radiation and chemo. He began to gain weight and felt like eating out again.

Life was good…and then, a few weeks ago, he became miserable with pain. The hospice nurse came and had another nurse come to help him. They ended up sending him to the Emergency Room. He took a turn for the worse….and in about two weeks, he quietly passed from this world into the arms of Jesus. My oldest sister traveled there to help mom as my sister and I were unable to go help. But we were there in prayer. Mom stayed with him in the Good Shepard Hospice House for the 10 days he was there. My oldest sister traveled there to be with her as his local daughter had a prearranged travel obligation arranged with her sister. They were both with him over Thanksgiving. They thought they would see him when they returned. But no, he didn’t make it.

So now to reflect. Just like my dad when he was terminally ill, he never cursed God for the disease. And more important, like Job as told in the Bible. Both accepted their fate. And Cliff kept his faith to the end, saying he didn’t understand it, but he accepted it. He and mom tried their best to be prepared, but there is just no way to really prepare for the loss of a loved one.

We seek our solace in the Bible. We understand life is short. And our bodies are only temporarily here on this earth. We know we will be reunited for eternity.

 LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Psalm 39:4

So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

An update, sort of….


2015 ICE, Gaylord Hotel

Phew, what a journey we have been on since we first attempted to leave Myrtle Beach. Since purchasing our 40 foot Class A motorhome this past May, we’ve really tried to travel at a leisurely pace. But things keep coming up to hinder our desire – or to cause us to hasten our journey. While we do completely enjoy our new spacious and luxurious home (but with a minimalist theme), we miss our nibble X-tra Lite 5th wheel that handled speed a little better.

Here is a synopsis of our journey from mid-November to today (December 9, 2015.)

Arrival:  We wrote about our difficulty getting out of Myrtle Beach here to arrive at our current location. We are near our daughter and her family (including our two precious grandsons).  Our total stay will be about six weeks.  While we averted a major disaster (and those of us in the lifestyle know that is always a possibility), the worst part is we arrived here a bit un-rested to begin helping our daughter as she returned to work after three months of maternity leave. The oldest is now two years old and three months and the baby is three months old. At our age (eligible for social security), we don’t have the energy we would prefer to have as we care for these precious boys. We’ve heard being grandparents helps keep a person younger. We are sure hoping for this!  Anyway, we wanted to arrive a day ahead to set up camp and get “acclimated” to our new environment – from the beach to a forest-type campground. And REST from the trip. Since we didn’t have that luxury, we set up “camp” quickly and then headed off to pick up our two-year-old grandson from daycare. Once at home, we packed his overnight bag and he spent the night. He loves our motorhome and we love having him spend the night. Rest is over-rated, right?

Getting in the swing of things: Aside from wanting to be with our daughter and her family for the holidays, our main reason for being here is to take care of our infant grandson while our daughter returns to work. We don’t want the baby in daycare until as long as possible….so we hope to have him ready for daycare by the end of December/early January.  While we wished we could keep him out of it, his parents both work and we just can’t do it at this time. Bill told our daughter before she had children, he would not help her raise them….but he is eating his words a bit….he can’t get enough of them and time will tell what happens down the road….

New adventure:  In the past 10 years, at any of our church congregational events, I was usually seen holding a baby. What a great legacy to be known as a lover of babies! And the greatest privilege was to be asked to help take care of 6-week old infant twins. That really got my juices going to one day be a grandma. And people told me frequently I would be a wonderful grandma. So when our first grandson was to arrive, we did change our lifestyle to see him more (sold everything and began traveling full-time).  Aside from being present at the birth of #1 grandson (and subsequently #2), we also took care of #1 for a month to also keep him out of daycare a little longer after our daughter returned to work. What a time of joy and special bonding that was! But at this same time, Bill was beginning to live his dream of traveling. And I was on board, but I’m very torn….I want it all!!!

So we are now watching #2 grandson as we did with #1. But we are two years older. And sadly, we are now 30 minutes away from their house, rather than the 10 minutes the first time.  So all that to say, the JOY of this new baby is like an adrenaline rush! I am getting up very early to be at my daughter’s house by 6:15. In essence, I put in a 12 hour day, not including the commute. While here at the house, since he does sleep a lot, I help with housework, laundry and shopping. Bill is the chief cook! And then we play and enjoy our grandsons to the fullest.

We love our daughter tremendously, but honestly, we don’t remember all these fun times with her as we are having with our grandsons.  Since we both also worked full time, we just don’t remember much about her early months and years. So how wonderful now as grandparents, we get to experience the awe and wonder as we watch these babies and toddlers go through as they explore life.  We are cherishing our time here, but it is winter and cold….so we will depart the end of December or first of January for warmer climates.

Grandson #2 is helping us etch into our minds the beauty of birth and dependence of precious children on the adults around them.  It is like a new adventure with #2!

How is our new home handling winter?  When we bought our 5th wheel, a sticker by the entrance door said, “Polar Pack.” And we latched on to the statement while the salesman warned us, it didn’t mean it could go much below freezing. And we discovered it didn’t like freezing weather as our pipes froze on us as we fled south last January.  Remember the polar vortex that hit the east coast of the US?  We couldn’t outrun it….

We are happy to report we are very pleased with our new home. While it doesn’t have any type of “polar pack,” it has better insulation. We have been able to keep it toasty warm for our grandsons when they come to stay overnight. That is huge! We also learned a few lessons last winter. For one, we now have an insulated and heated water hose. We also did learn a few other tricks for surviving in freezing temps. I’ll save that for a later post….after we bonafide survive this winter!

What are our fun adventures besides our Monday-Friday routine?  During the week, we also still have our own responsibilities, like processing the mail, balancing the checkbook, seeing doctors for routine stuff us older folks have to deal with, grocery shopping, and for Bill, to keep our vehicles clean and shiny! We are constantly asked if our home is a 2015 or 2016! Everyone is shocked it is a 2010! Yep, Bill keeps it polished! But come the weekend, we do want to have fun with the family.

Here are some links for a sneak preview about the fun we have been having: We started out with our visit to the ICE 2015 Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort;  a day trip to the Shenandoah National Park to hike; a return to Williamsburg, a family tradition; and more!

We are also enjoying our Sunday morning times of corporate worship at Spotswood Baptist Church. We especially love attending church during the Christmas season. It just makes it really Christmas, singing Christmas carols and hymns about the birth of our Lord and Savior! I wrote a blog, here, about this past service.

So that is all the good. Sadly, we also experienced the sad part of life. I remember being told as a child, there are three things you can count on in life: births, death and taxes.

Bill and I have already experienced the death of our dad’s.  I was so blessed to have a dear step-dad, Cliff Duncan when my mom remarried after being alone for five years.  Mom did pretty well, but she began to lose her sight. And then my middle sister and his oldest daughter “fixed” them up. He had recently lost his wife.

Cliff loved traveling in an RV. He and his first wife traveled extensively around the country, including to Alaska in a motorhome! They started small and owned about every type they make. My parents owned a travel trailer, but they kept it at an RV resort. Mom always wanted to take it on the road….so she finally got on the road with her new husband.  My tribute to him..

There is A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:3-8