2013 June 22
Strangers No More
One thing that living full-time in an RV and traveling does, is puts you in a position to meet lots of folks. In our eighteen months of full timing, we have met many people. Currently, we have been neighbors with H and W for nearly two months. We are deeply affected by the relationship we've developed with them.
Here's the story:
W and H are an interesting couple on many levels. They are what I would call 'authentic'. They speak their mind and they speak from their hearts. They are what most would call a non-traditional couple. W was getting married to her first husband on the day H was born. H is from a genteel Southern background. W is Yankee to her core. They each have baggage which the other helps to carry. They share who they are and allow the chips to fall where they may. They are good people. They are people we like, with kindness at their center.
A couple of days after they parked alongside us, H, the male half of the nearly twenty year partnership, asked through our side dinette window, if we drink wine. I said that we did on occasion. He came around to our door with a bottle of chilled wine, explaining that they don't drink wine and they had been carrying this one around through three states, after receiving it in a gift basket. Thus began our campground relationship with H and W.
H is in the area on a work site, so W and their dog are home without transportation during the day. Because we have been in a similar position, before acquiring our car, we offered to drive W during the day, if she needed or simply wanted to escape the campground. On several occasions, W has simply visited with us at our picnic table. For the Memorial Day weekend, (H's only day off over that holiday weekend) they invited us to join them and a couple of guys whom H works with for a cook out. This is how our relationship has progressed.
Just last weekend, W mentioned that H had requested a weekend off, as he was feeling a little tired. She seemed excited at the prospect of spending two full days with H. She mentioned that they might take a trip to the Butler Mall. We saw her and their dog sitting near the campground office mid afternoon on Friday. W mentioned they were"waiting for Daddy to come home." My thought was that it was great that they were getting an early start to their weekend.
I never saw them leave for the Mall over the weekend, so I assumed their plans had changed. When I noticed their van hadn't moved during H's weekend off, I didn't give it much thought. We had been out Friday night, again on Saturday running errands, and on Sunday for Father's Day. They could very easily have been out and about and we didn't notice. On both Saturday and Sunday, we saw W sitting out.Each time greetings and pleasantries were exchanged. Neither time did I intuit there to be anything wrong.
On Wednesday morning I left to do some pet care for a friend who was on vacation. I thought it odd that H's van was still parked at the campsite at 8 am. In the nearly two months we've been neighbors, H has always left for work by 6:15 am. I found it odder still, when I got back around 9:30 am, to see H sitting in his van, on the phone. He and I waved at each other. I assumed he was leaving for work, getting a late start for some reason.
This is how the relationship as neighbors evolved.
Later on Wednesday, W came by to share that H was admitted to UPMC, in Cranberry. Seems he hadn't been feeling great, had some leg swelling that wouldn't resolve and had gone to the ER that morning. The ER doctor admitted him, put him on IVs, pain meds, and ordered various tests. One of the doctors said they were leaning toward all this being a liver issue.
From Wednesday afternoon to late Friday afternoon, there has been a rush of information, changes, diagnostics, scheduled and cancelled surgery, and ever more dire diagnoses. None of it is good. In fact, it is beyond bad. H is dying. His liver has shut down. Infection and other disease processes are effecting him in a variety of ways, all of which are unpleasant and none of which seem to offer much in the way of hope.
In spite of all this, H remains most concerned about W and how she will weather this life change they didn't see coming. I am not surprised by his attitude. I remember how his eyes lit up as he spoke of her when we first met. He is an intensely practical man. He lives his life based on having a "game plan", as well as a "back up game plan". He may or may not grasp the full magnitude of current events. It's hard to say, because his goal tends to be to protect W. Meanwhile, W indeed grasps the situation and is doing what she can to help and support H. They are truly each other's best friends.
H was raised in an intensely Christian home. He knows death isn't the end, but rather a transition. And through it all, his focus remains on his life partner, his soul mate, his W.
Raymond and I are strangers who have come to know H and W because they occupy the site next to ours at this campground. We are saddened to the point of tears at the rapid change in the lives of people we didn't even know two months ago. We are grateful to have met them. Grateful and sad. Yet, had we never ventured from Stayton Street, into the world of full-time RVing, we would never have met these two people. Being able to do what we do is a gift, which has resulted in other gifts. I count W and H among those gifts.