And so, like that, the day came when I decided to drive out of Birmingham on the first of what would be a couple of road trips. I had originally thought of leaving for six or more weeks on one long continuous trip. (That’s what I did after Steve died). But there were some practicalities that required me to be back in Birmingham in early June – a couple of weddings I promised to attend, a work obligation around a legal case. And I decided as long as I would need to be back, that would be the right time to plan Tommy’s memorial service so I set that date in early June as well. As I wasn’t able to leave until mid-Afternoon as I seem to have had something to do at church that morning (I can’t for the life of me remember what it was…), I didn’t plan on a long drive that day and made it as far as Louisville. I then published the first of my dateline posts so that the world could keep track of me as I headed cross country.
Dateline Clarksville, Indiana, just across the river from Kentucky.
I left Birmingham about 2:30 this afternoon after church and some chores and some final packing and I am on my way on the first leg of the trip. I used to come up 65 somewhat regularly for business purposes but it’s been some years. I think the last time was in 2008. Tommy had just had one of several back surgeries and was moving slowly and we had to go as I had a speaking engagement in Chicago and then meetings with the mineworkers in Kentucky. I think we stayed a little bit north of my current location on our way to Chicagoland but I remember very little about the trip other than having to help Tommy in and out of the car with his cane.
Tomorrow, I should hit Chicagoland, then head up into Wisconsin and Minnesota. I have no idea how far I am going to get. It will depend on whether I detour into Chicago at all. I might, but I have a business trip there in late August to give some lectures at a conference so I might save it until then.
The new Prius is running smoothly and I have a name… Tommy had no nostalgia or regrets and always looked forward, no matter what. Therefore, the car, after the legend of Pandora, is Hope, The Great Red Hope. (Thank you Betty Tackett for the suggestion).
I originally thought that these would be relatively simple updates but the germ of the idea of storytelling was already there and it was going to take full form over the next few days. I’ve always been interested in story and narrative and, as I have aged into what is the grandparent generation, I have become keenly aware that this is the role of the healthy younger elder. Tell the stories. Make those younger than you aware of what has gone before so they can take some of it and use it and create a continuity with those who will come after them.
The closing number of Once On This Island encapsulates this as well as anything ever has.
Life is why – we tell the story
Pain is why – we tell the story
Love is why – we tell the story
Grief is why – we tell the story
Hope is why – we tell the story
Faith is why – we tell the story
You are why – we tell the story…