Sept. 24, 2009
Things have been a little monotonous around here for the last couple years. Except for Gary’s ‘illness’. So when he was diagnosed with mycosis fungoides earlier this year, it was a shock. A cracker-jack dermatologist (Dr. Gruman) was the first to be suspicious of the rash that Gary had battled for years with creams and ointments – even biopsies. His symptoms would be roundish, slightly raised and scaly spots from ½” to 3” popping up anywhere, then subside into light pinkish spots and then even disappearing. But some got very swollen, cracked, bled, weeped and painful. Several biopsies, and 3 different results from labs across the country later, there was finally an answer. It was a rare skin cancer that normally (but not necessarily) stayed on the skin. Suddenly the future looked a little precarious, and life reaching into our 70s and 80s and beyond looked very hazy. It was the fulcrum, the straw and the turning point in our lives. We had wanted to do so much, see everything, travel the world. Would that not be possible? The doctors assured us that this rarely went beyond the skin, but they couldn’t guarantee it. He would need PET and CAT scans every six months to take a look inside. Meanwhile, it had to be treated on a daily basis. Larger spots needed radiation, and small ones could disappear on their own or be treated with creams and/or and UVB treatments. Well, now what? Were we doomed to sit around waiting for a cure, or worse - bad news? Nope, not us.
We decided that renting the house, moving Granny back up to North Carolina and buying an RV and traveling the country was what was needed. We were not going to waste any more time. We were going to have the adventures we always wanted ‘someday’. Now was the word that was uppermost in our minds.
This was a huge decision, but right from the conception, we felt it was right. We were following our north star. Thank you, Martha Beck, for your book. We could picture ourselves working at National parks, Disney World or ranches. We would have our own little house on wheels, parked wherever we wanted to be enjoying and cooking outdoors, kayaking, meeting friends we don’t know yet. Deep inside we are both country kids. We loved exploring as children, looking under rocks, and enjoying all that mother nature offers for free. We both did the city thing for years raising our children, buying the obligatory home, cars, memberships. Well, you could take me out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of me. Ditto Gary.
When we thought of this harebrained scheme I remembered my Mom’s journals about the months they spent on the road in their fifth wheel. I dug them out and read them from beginning to end. They were not just on vacation, but living in it. Mind you, they stayed on my aunt’s place in Zephyrhills for free while they were looking for a place to build a new house. But if they did it in a 32’ fifth wheel, so could we. The fifth wheels these days can be like their little one, but many are made with slide-outs which give you instant extra room. It’s not a narrow little tube, but is wide and spacious with stairs!