The Handwritten Note

“Never Let It Be Too Late.” Written on a yellow post-it note, these words were found on my dad’s bathroom mirror the day he died in December 2004.  It was a sudden heart attack, and at 75 he’d been in excellent health with no indication of any heart trouble.

Among the many treasures he left us with was this note.  Words of wisdom, hand-written and posted in easy view as if he needed the reminder, and now left for anyone who would come after him.  It wasn’t the first time I’d heard those words; they were his mantra. I’d heard him speak that phrase more times than I can count.

When I met my husband in 2013 we were both caring for our elderly mothers. We were both well into our careers, Doug approaching 20 years with the same company, and mine six-years strong.  Our five adult children were almost all independent and we were super excited for what the future would bring.  As we look back on these past three years, there is no way we could have predicted how much would shift and change and take us by surprise.

One month after we married in 2014, my mother suddenly passed away. Six short months later my sister passed away from an unexpected illness.  A few months after that tragedy, we said goodbye to Doug’s mom.  There is nothing like death and illness and grief to make you reevaluate life.  What is really important?And of course, even more urgency to:20160316_091950

In August of 2015, Doug and his friend Jeff took a long-anticipated, off-road, 2100-mile motorcycle trip through the back-county in our home state of Idaho.  They were gone for 10 days and had almost no phone service the entire trip.  On one beautiful trail in central Idaho, Doug stopped his bike to wait for Jeff to catch up.  Out from the bushes came a tumbling, new-born, wobbly baby moose. Doug was lucky enough to pet the calf and have the calf “kiss” his glove. One of the wonders of life in the forest, with nature as your friend.  Doug came home from this trip changed.

While he was away, I took a retreat with my cousin Linda. We rented a cabin in the woods and had long talks and walks. I was feeling like a change was coming, but couldn’t put my finger on what. Linda told me, “If I were you, I’d tell Doug to sell everything, quit your jobs and move into your RV and travel.” Never let it be too late.

When Doug came home from his trip, we had a lot of catching up to do as we had barely had a conversation in 10 days.  I was excited to tell him what Linda and I discussed, but before I could even get the words out of my mouth he looked at me and said, “Honey, I don’t want to die at my desk!”  I about cried. “And you shouldn’t!” I said.  “Let’s quit this American Scheme and find our true American DREAM!”

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