Nita Wise, Contributing Writer
I can’t move!” I literally
screeched. My husband had gone ahead to unlock the door. “I CAN’T
MOVE!” I bellowed this time. I did not jump from the car as usual. I was
completely serious. In the 15-minute drive from the
university to our home, something had happened. A quick trip to the local
hospital emergency room confirmed I had experienced a hemorrhagic stroke.
“I can’t move!” I yelled that
answer to my adult daughter 14 years later. She called on Friday to
announce: “The moving van will be there at 8 a.m. on Monday. Choose what
you want to take to your new house.”
Six months earlier her father had died,
victim of two malignant brain tumors. Our three adult, married children were
spread from South Carolina to Virginia to Colorado.
Each fretted about mom, living alone,
with limited mobility. Plus I was sole caretaker of a big house, a guest
house, a swimming pool, and 58 acres of isolated land. Not acceptable!
I was stubborn, self-willed. I needed a
period of solitude. To think, grieve, redirect my life. In my heart I knew I
was not alone.
Almost overnight a small house a half
mile from our oldest son appeared on the market.
Slow to make major decisions, I did an
about-face. A rush trip to inspect the property prompted me to fork over
earnest money. Within a month, I purchased this house. (We had saved money
for a rainy day. I was fortunate.)
In 1963, a cross-country trip of the
U.S. revealed the miracle of America to our family. Five of us traveled for
about five weeks for around $500. That paid for gas, groceries, camping
fees, admission to attractions. (Do you remember gas costing 19˘ a gallon?)
Our tour was made in a 1950 Packard
hearse. We converted it into a primitive RV. It housed bunk beds for the
boys, 11 and eight, and a Moon Mullins dresser drawer for our four-year-old
daughter. A double mattress slept mom and dad.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, initiated our
jaunt. I had routed daily sites to view. Our daughter claimed the privilege
of choosing the campground facility. Her query near the end of each driving
day was: “Does it have pit pots or flush toilets?” She always was a
prissy pot! She was born too late to grow up with outhouses and Sears
catalogue toilet paper.
Each day we live presents challenge,
opportunity. We must discover a median that respects each other’s space,
ideas, being. As I move closer to 80 years on this earth, I realize how
lucky I’ve been. I was able to observe our homeland from a hearse. My
first trip in a hearse was great!
I trust, I believe, my last trip in a
hearse will open up more glorious experiences we
cannot begin to imagine. There will be peace. I am positive of this. “The
pioneer in me will not be quelled. I am impelled. Push West.”
Nita Wise is an award-winning poet and
the mother of Cooperative Living staff member Becky Potter.
must step back
fields I’ve cleared.
cut the brush
grubbed the stumps
nurtured the seeds:
labor of love.
would be so easy
never could accept
pioneer in me
I see new ground