Friday, May 30, 2008

Random Thoughts From the Road

Hello. It's been a while. As I write this, I am sitting in the Wendy's restaurant inside the Pilot truck stop in Augusta, Georgia, off I-20, right on the state line with South Carolina. There is much on my mind to write, but I don't know what will make it in the final cut.

I delivered a load to Grovetown, Georgia, just up the road, this afternoon, and in the morning, I'm picking up a load over in Beech Island, South Carolina, that is going to New Milford, Connecticut. Those of you who know me or who have been reading this blog for a while {crickets chirp into the silence} know that I am not fond of driving in the northeast; on the other hand, it's been months since I can remember being in New England, and it should be cooler than the summer heat that I've been in for a while now.

Actually, over the past couple of months, I've gotten to spend most of my time in areas that I enjoy driving, so that's been nice.

One cool thing that happened recently was that the Friday before Mother's Day, I had a load from the St. Louis area going to Villa Rica, Georgia, and my route took me right through Rome. So I was able to see Mama and Cindy and her family, and we all got to go out to eat at a nice restaurant for Mother's Day. That was special to all of us.

The next day when I was in Atlanta, I wrote the last blog entry about Mother's Day.

Visiting Rome. This past weekend, I took some time off to see my family in Rome. As always, it was too short, but I got to spend some good time with people I love.

Mama and I spent a very special afternoon together on Monday. We went down to Kennesaw, ate at one of my favorite restaurants there ( Rafferty's), did some shopping (I got some new shorts I needed and bought the first season of The X Files ), and then went to see the new Indiana Jones movie. We both enjoyed the movie, although, for me, it was more about remembering the first movies in that series. If I wasn't a fan of the previous movies, I wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly so much.

Sunday night, I was planning to spend the night at my sister Cindy's house, and was looking forward to spending some good time with her family. On my way down there, my cousin Kristi called me. She had been at the hospital all day with her husband, Bobby, who had fallen off a truck at home. They determined he fractured his back, and were sending him to a hospital in Chattanooga that could better evaluate and treat him.

She needed to go, and wasn't in very much condition to drive. I was able to take her. Since it was going to be very late when I got back to Rome, I called Cindy to see if she wanted to ride up with us. I thought that would at least give Cindy and me some time to visit. She did, and that very bad situation for my cousins turned into one of the best times I have ever had with Cindy.

It was the most time one-on-one we have had in over 20 years. I can't remember any time, except a couple of lunches we had when I lived in Rome back in 2006, where we've been together without spouses, kids, or other family around.

Those hours we spent driving to Chattanooga and back to Rome were moments I will treasure forever, and I think Cindy will, too. We just talked and shared about everything, things we haven't talked about in years, or perhaps ever. We told each other things about one another we hadn't known before (mostly from our teen years), and we talked quite a lot about our parents. Several times we both were verging on tears talking about times that both Mama and Daddy have helped us during the toughest times of our lives.

Cindy and I have always been close (especially since we've both been adults), but I think we are closer than we've ever been after that trip.

Bobby went home from the hospital yesterday after having had surgery to repair the fractures in his back. He will have some recovery time, but I think his prognosis is good.

I must also say that, even though it was a very stressful and traumatic situation for her, the time driving up to Chattanooga with Kristi was special for me also.

I spent some special time with my Nanny while I was in Rome, also. However, when I called her yesterday on the phone, just two days after leaving Rome to go back on the road, she asked me where I was at, and “when in the world are you coming home?” I told her it would be a few weeks because I was just there.

There was a confused silence on the other end of the phone. She had remembered just the day before when we talked. She didn't remember me being there at all. I assured her I had been, and she said, with so much sadness, my heart just broke in two, “I wish I could remember it.” I told her it was okay, that we had enjoyed a great visit, and that I would see her soon.

After I hung up, I just wanted to sit there in my big old orange truck and cry my eyes out.

I know this is part of the process of whatever form of dementia she is dealing with (it's not Alzheimer's, but is some unspecified variant of the group of brain disorders that are generally labeled dementia ), and it's happened before that she's forgotten I've just been to visit, but this time it just hit me full-force.

And, should the disorder proceed as it normally does, there will come a day when she probably won't even know who I am. I dread that day.

So much the more against that day will I treasure and store up in heart and memory the times we still enjoy.

I've already tentatively planned my times off the road for the rest of the year: the weekend of July 4 th , I'm taking several days off and Cindy, Shane, the girls, and I are going down to visit my Daddy. I'll have a day or so before and after the trip in Rome also. In September, Terry, a mutual friend of ours in Florida, Van, and I are going to spend a few days on the beach in Jacksonville, sort of a reprise of a similar trip we took in February, 2007. And I will take my week of vacation in Rome the week of Thanksgiving in November.

Terry. In the past few weeks, I've gotten to see Terry once when we were both on a stretch of I-57 in Illinois, going in opposite directions. We had breakfast and got to visit for a little while. We talk on the phone every day when he's on the road (we don't talk very much the week's he's off the road), but there is still something special about seeing one another. We talk about different things.

Terry is doing well. He's on his way to Laredo with a load right now. He is considering seriously getting off the road completely in the summer, and getting a job locally in Arkansas, so that he can focus more on his relationship, which is progressing toward a more serious level. I will miss him being on the road (even though we're not teaming any longer, it still gives us a common connection because both of us are driving and can talk about things related to driving that we can't with anyone else), but I think it will be a positive step for him and his future.

Music on a deserted island. Most days during the week, I listen to a show on public radio called Soundcheck . A couple of weeks ago the topic was a new book ( Marooned ), a sort of sequel to an earlier book from the late 1970's, which asks prominent music critics if they were stranded on a desert island, and could only have one song (or perhaps album), what they would choose and why.

That got me to thinking along those lines, just for trivial pursuit driving down the highway (truckers have lots of time to think, you know): could I narrow my music down to one CD if I had to? As I look at my Winamp player as I write this, I currently have over 8000 tracks in my music library. How in the world could I narrow that down to a single album or song?

Pretty quickly, I narrowed the choices down to the four albums that have meant more to me at various times in my life over the past 30 years than any others for various reasons. They all remain among my personal favorites of all time, even though there was a time when each of them was more prominent in my musical life than they might be now. They still get lots of airtime in the truck, though, depending on the mood I'm in at the time.

Those four albums, in random order, are: Lonely Runs Both Ways (Alison Krauss); 20 Years Live Concert (Resurrection Band); Appetite for Destruction (Guns 'N' Roses); and Just A Game (Triumph).

Favorite songs from those albums are: “Gravity” (Alison Krauss), which describes my life at the present time more than any other song I've ever heard; “Where Roses Grow” (Resurrection Band), which is my favorite Christian blues/rock song by my favorite Christian rock band; it's great music even if you aren't religious; “Sweet Child O Mine” (Guns 'N' Roses); and “Just A Game” and “Hold On” (Triumph) round it out. All great songs for different reasons to me.

What would your choices be? What if you were stranded on a desert island (like Robinson Crusoe, or Tom Hanks in Cast Away ) and you could only have one or two albums to fill that desolate solitude?

It's trivial, but it prompts some interesting thought and reflection if you let it. You might find out something about yourself, as I have.

Reading. I'm still reading Life of Johnson , a biography of Samuel Johnson, who lived in England in the 1700's. What's fascinating to me is the depth of detail in the book. It's also fascinating to realize that Johnson was contemporary with so much significant history in Europe and America. Reading parts of this biography is like sitting down at the table having a conversation with Johnson about philosophy, theology, literature, politics, and culture. I'm loving it.

I'll be reading this one a while because I'm taking it very slowly and deliberately. I usually read and retain what I've read very quickly, but this book is prompting so much thought and reflection about its topics, I'm soaking in it, meditating on it, learning from it.

I'm still enjoying listening to the audio books on XM. Currently, I'm listening to: How the Irish Saved Civilization; The Emperor of Ocean Park; Casino Royale (the first James Bond book by Ian Fleming); Bless Me, Ultima; The Diary of a Nobody; Commentaries by Julius Caesar; and The Gods of Mars.

So long for now. I suppose that's all I feel like writing for now.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . .


No comments: