We’re spending the night at the campground, resting for the next leg of the trip. We met our neighbors around us. Jim and Linda are directly behind us, we learned their story first. Linda is turning 67 on Sept. 24th and they are on a birthday trip for her, leaving from Dallas, TX, heading to Norfolk, VA. They’re taking a month, we are taking three weeks. We are going to Memphis tomorrow, they just came from Memphis. Their trip will be 3000 miles, ours 4000 miles. We’re doing the same thing in opposite directions. They are traveling in a tear drop camper, for their adventure. Jim walks with a limp and a cane. Linda had quite the story to tell.
Linda married her high school sweetheart. They were married almost 40 years. He was a pastor who, at 48 years old was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He was told he had 6 months to live. He lived another 2 years. After his death, two daughters, Cindy and Vicky had difficult questions. Her Dad had served and prayed for so many other people, why didn’t God heal him? I wish we had dug into that a little bit more, but we got side tracked in our conversation. Linda felt alone, and had no one to talk too. A friend suggested she try PenPal. Linda met Jim through PenPal. Jim is divorced and lived in Sacramento, CA when they first connected. They started writing back and forth. Jim fell in love with her and the feeling was mutual. Eventually she moved to California and they were married, celebrating 15 years this year.
Our neighbors beside us are from Johnson City, TN. They design and maintain pipe organs. Ron asked them if there was still a market for it, apparently there is and it’s very lucrative. From my research, they average between $500,000 to a million dollars a year in revenue. We saw the pipe organ at the Biltmore, that according to them is a very small one. They maintain the pipe organ at the Naval Academy. Their company is R.A. Colby Organ Builders. They travel all over the country in their RV for designing, building and maintaining pipe organs. I didn’t get their names, but they look like Roger and Ellen, so we’ll call them that. Roger is flying out tomorrow for Pennsylvania for a job while Ellen stays here for doctors appointments. Their home away from home is much different than Jim and Linda’s, an A Class RV. Roger and Ellen haven’t been home since June. In fact, Ellen told me the realtor called her today, he has a buyer for their house if they can be out in 30 days. The problem is, the house wasn’t even on the market and they have other problems to worry about.
Roger is a cancer survivor, jaw and mouth cancer that started from a sore tooth. He has spent months at Vanderbilt being treated with radiation and chemo. He’s cancer free now, but unfortunately the treatment has caused him other issues. He now needs his carotid artery operated on, which means they will have to cancel the family trip to China next year. Their dog realized they were out here talking and not paying attention to them, so he blew the horn. Literally, the dog crawled up on the steering wheel and blew the horn to get their attention and tell them it was time to come in.
In the meantime, while I was having those conversations, Ron met our neighbor who is diagonal from us. Again, I didn’t get his name. He worked 35 years at the Newport News Shipyard, living in Chesapeake. He now lives in West Virginia. Ron doesn’t ask questions like I do, so that is all I have for him. And, of course, a picture of his home away from home.
Those are the people I met, sitting outside our camper, not moving an inch. Lives I would have never intersected with if we weren’t on this trip. Lives who, for a moment in time intersected with ours.