Life is never risk free..

What were our motives for starting a blog about “leaving” seven months before we are actually “leaving?”  In my mind the intent has been simple, document the process as a means of lessening the emotional blow.

Almost to the day, a year prior to starting this blog, I wrote my first blog, an accounting of the last days of the life of our precious little dog, WorldWideWillie, written from his perspective, followed by me, after he passed. 

Much to my surprise, we had over 500 followers with no marketing, no advertising, no promotion, other than by my own comment to a few friends and a few references in own poorly maintained meager Facebook account.  

Somehow, people were reading it across the seas.  Perhaps, key words. Perhaps, one person in the US, sent the link across the world to a grieving relative having recently lost their own beloved pet.

What did this accomplish for us?  Lots of tears each day as I read aloud to Tom, “what Willie wrote” as he sat at our side, nose touching my leg, tilting his little head each time he heard familiar words of which he knew so many.  

But, most of all, it was a vital part of the healing process. I love dogs. I love dogs too much, too deep, the same as with people. In time, through the words, the healing entered our hearts as we began to talk about him without crying (still do sometimes). And, I stopped counting on my fingers how many days, weeks and months had passed since he left us.

And now, this time, this blog, 1000’s, not 100’s of readers, all over the world are sharing this experience with us.  Thank you, readers.  Thank you so much for coming on this journey with us, even now at this early date, three months away.  

Most of you silently observe, some with disdain, some vicariously, some with curiosity and some, like me when reading other’s blogs, hoping to glean a tiny morsel that will somehow change our lives.

This is not just a blog about two crazy retirees traveling the world for what may prove to be many years. It is also about leaving everyone we love, everything we have loved, the familiarity of a comfortable life and all of our worldly possessions, not contained in four over-stuffed suitcases and two carry on bags.   

Writing this blog has the same powerful healing effect that we encountered when writing about Willie.  Plus, it serves as a powerful reminder of that which we have learned along the way, to reference the multitude of tasks to do now and into the future.

We “heard” through the grapevine that some people think we have no idea of what we are doing and that “we are in for some big surprises.”  Yes, we surely are!

Did the senior know what he was doing when he jumped out of an airplane for the first time on his 90th birthday? No. He took the risk for the adventure.

After 100’s of hours of research we both feel we know the risks: death due to injury; crime or illness; illness or injury requiring an expensive (although insured) trip back to US; being a victim of a crime; theft of our belongings (which will also be insured); theft of our deposit or the property not being as expected or represented; unable to obtain a visa or gain entrance into a country; being stuck in airport or on the tarmac for days; cancellation of a cruise at the last minute due to maintenance issues of bomb threat; a cruise ship tipping over; false imprisonment (we won’t knowingly commit a crime!) and more.

What if a warthog cuts us with his sharp tusks?  Or we step on a snake resulting in a life threatening bite? Or a creepy worm makes its way into the bottom of our foot to travel to our brain? Yuck!

When we read the newspaper or watch the news each day, all of these risks occur throughout the world and also, here in the US.  Seniors fall down a flight of stairs in their own homes, resulting in horrible injury or death. Food poisoning occurs in our local restaurants.  Pins are found in a sandwich on a domestic flight. Citizens are shot and killed in their own homes, as an unintended victim of violence.

Good grief!  We could spend our lives immobilized by fears, a slave to our own environment.  Or, we can venture out performing everyday tasks, enjoying our families, our friends, Mother Nature, our work and our hobbies, all of which are laden with a certain degree of risk.

Life is not without risk.  Do we “prepare for the worst and expect the best?”  

No. We choose to be as educated as we possibly can about the risks, proceed with caution along the way, avoid risk and pray for a little good luck.  And, as life has its ups and downs along the way, as it surely will, we will holster our usual optimism hopefully discovering a logical solution together.

We’ve never done this before. This is not the same as traveling for a month or two, returning “home” to repack, paying the bills, reading the mail and visiting with our family and friends.  There will be no “home” to return to.

The message is clear in the old adage, “home is where the heart is”. This will become our motto. After all, we are taking our “home” with us not only in our hearts and minds, but also in each other.

Worrying about ice cubes…

As I hauled out one box after another to our overflowing garbage and recycling bins today, a powerful sense of determination drove me to keep up the pace I had started on Monday.  

Yesterday, I had two more vaccinations; the first in a series of three rabies shot and a single Meningococcal vaccine.  The risks of serious side effects from either of these vaccines are fairly low, although approximately 50% of the population experience mild side effects, including flu like symptoms with a fever and/or redness and itching at the site of injection.

After Tom had these same vaccinations last Friday, he felt lethargic, achy and “out of sorts” (his words) over the weekend.  I guess I feel somewhat the same today.

In any case, I kept myself busy all day, making a trip to the auto repair shop to have a valve stem replaced on a tire, followed by a quick trip to Kohl’s to return an item I’d purchased online. While browsing the store, which I seldom do, I happened across a nifty item for our travels, buying two in the process.  Here it is:

Nifty 32 oz. BPH free drink holder

In looking on the inside of the bottle, there is a  1½” cylinder that holds a gel-like non-toxic item, that can be frozen to keep drinks cold.  While worrying about “safe” ice last weekend, I ordered four ice cube trays with lids to ensure we’d be able to make ice from purified water.  
In discussing our endless list of “habits” we’ll need to break living outside the US, we had struggled with the reality that clean, “safe” ice may be a commodity that we will be forced to include on the “goodbye” list.  

By bringing our own ice cube trays and getting settled at a vacation rental, we will fill them with bottled/purified water to make our own ice.  Every property has a freezer and bottled water for our use.

Also, the ice cube trays with lids will function as jewelry boxes for my earrings, bracelets and necklaces, preventing them from tangling. Since customs in some countries require prescriptions to be in the original bottles, we can each use a tray while situated to contain our weekly medications and supplements, thus preventing the necessity of bringing those bulky 28-day pill cases. 
When I had ordered the ice cube trays online last weekend, I had no idea I’d find these sports bottles that will serve us well for our daily doses of iced tea and water. The iced cube trays will be perfect for Tom’s cocktails.  I couldn’t get home from Kohl’s quickly enough to put the cylinders in the freezer so we could test them tonight with our iced tea.  It took about three hours for them to fully freeze.
Here we sit this evening, enjoying our new bottles of iced tea, knowing that we’ll need two more of these bottles allowing another to freeze while we are using one.  Back to Kohl’s in a few days.

The bottles originally cost $12.99 each.  They were on sale today for $5.99 each.  Today, Wednesday, is Senior Discount Day at 15% off, resulting in paying $10.18 + tax for two, as opposed to what would have been $25.95 + tax.  

While at Kohl’s today I also bought a pair of white KEDs and brown slide sandals.  The KEDs worked out great. But, when I walked around the house in the sandals, they hurt my feet and I will return them. 

The total bill for the bottles and the two pairs of shoes was $51.  Kohl’s was offering their “Kohl’s Cash” today, giving me back a $10 gift certificate that may be used for any purchase within a certain date range that happens to fall into next Wednesday.  

I will return to the store next Wednesday to return the sandals and, while there, use the $10 “Kohl’s Cash,” to purchase the two additional bottles for $5.99 each at a total of $10.18 + tax (once again using the Wednesday Senior Discount), use the “Kohl’s Cash,” pay the remaining $.18 + tax and bring home the additional two bottles.  That’s my kind of deal!

Everyday life prevails, for now…

Saturday, we attended one of our precious grandson’s 4th birthday party at Choo Choo Bob’s in St. Paul, a delightful toy train store, an ideal location for a birthday party catering to both young and old train aficionados. 

A bevy of youngsters full of boundless energy reveled in the overly stimulating environment, hungry for the delivered pizza, clawing at the freshly cut fruit, devouring the crunchy chips while thirsty for the low sugar juice sippers, while caught up in a frenzy of wonderment as they scrambled to get their hands on the next train display within reach. 

We couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces, watching three of our total six grandchildren darting about Choo Choo Bob’s. As they scurried by they’d look our way with sparkly eyes and wide smiles hankering for a moment’s approval from their Grandma and Grandpa, pleased to have us there with them as witnesses to their childish frivolity, as we were pleased to be there with them. 

The two hours flew by in a blur. A few of the adults, friends of son Greg and daughter-in-law Camille were obviously aware of our upcoming adventure, asking questions and offering much welcomed tidbits of travel wisdom.  

As Tom and I sat side-by-side in our two well-placed chairs with thighs touching, we had full view of the festivities. From time to time our eyes would meet and we’d smile at one another, the little crinkles around our eyes accentuating our advancing age. 

It was a mixed bag, this day of celebration of this little boy, full of energy and curiosity, already a unique personality of adorable quirks and mannerisms with the ability to chatter on endlessly about the simplest topics.  He could talk about “ants” for an hour, tilting his adorable little head to emphasis a point which invariably provokes a guttural laugh in the listener. It was his day.  He deserved it.  

But..all the while the aching reality looms over me. We will miss many of these milestones in their lives over the next number of years. How long? We don’t know at this point.  

Many retiring baby boomers move to warmer climates throughout the US such as, Florida, California, Arizona, North Carolina and more, often to senior communities, far away from family.  Many seniors move to tax free states to increase their spendable income in these tough economic times.  

They find a way to work it out, to spend holidays together, to show their love and to continue to be a vital influence in the lives of their grandchildren, that which we relish on yet another special day, today…Mother’s Day.  

May all the mothers and grandmothers find today a memorable day filled with love, purpose and fulfillment.