11. Jonesboro: Response to an Expression of Condolence

FWD: Response to an Expression of Condolence

28 Sep

Yeah, Mom was crying this morning when I finally got a hold of her, as she told me about yesterday’s “celebration” of Tom’s life at Lake Saint Louis — with some 300 people in attendance, including my son from SF, whose tears, Mom said, flowed copiously as well.

I feel like it’s the end of a long ordeal. All of us are cut free and may go on at last.

Tom and I were not close. We loved each other — as became apparent at the end — but our values were always — from earliest childhood — very different, and we didn’t share much. Except for our origins and upbringing … which, of course, is a lot.

The write-up on him by John and Jean notes that he loved Broadway plays.

http://www.alternativefuneralcremation.com/index.php/obituaries/details/554-lamming-tom

He was in New York many times over the eleven years I’ve lived in that area. He only looked up us once — when he had a small item of Dad’s to pass along to me. That was his choice, not mine. I would have gladly found time for him had he ever extended himself. I feel he had glitzier, higher prestige folks to hang out with than me/us. He may have even been ashamed or embarrassed of me, living the low-status, relatively non-materialistic life that I do.

Anyway, I don’t hold that against him. It’s just the way things were, just a plain fact, that’s all. The world will be changed for me, now that he isn’t in it anymore. But, practically speaking, the trajectory and circumstances of my own path will be the same (I think).

Except for the present, very long detour I find myself on, which was occasioned by his willingness to see me, and by his wife’s extending an invitation. I am deeply grateful for that, as I’ve remarked before. Proving again that things have their own way of working out, independently of the worry we expend before these resolutions become clarified. I wouldn’t be on this bicycle journey now if I hadn’t gone back to St. Louis just to put my arms around his ravaged body, to kiss him, bless him, and say I loved him — which would have been evident more through my simple presence than by any words I could have uttered. Also … to accept the equivalent declarations from him.

So now I am in Jonesboro at last, juicing up my computer and sucking gourmet coffee in a comfy armchair at an air-conditioned, college java joint only a little ways down Hwy 18 from Gearhead Outfitters at 230 South Main St. — same road — where I’ll pick up the new rain fly that Cascade Designs shipped there about ten days ago. Then I’ll mail them my old fly — keeping fingers crossed they’ll refund my $100. I’ll also mail a few items home — the DeLorme Missouri and Arkansas atlas pages I no longer need, travel brochures I picked up and want to keep, plus the jacket and tie I used in Kirkwood. Don’t imagine the squirrels and raccoons amidst whom I’ve been spending my evenings will mind if I’m not “properly” dressed.

After that I’m going to concentrate on kicking out the miles. I’ve dawdled a lot so far — absorbed with the computer, and mucking around with wet gear. ‘

The day I rode from Mom’s up to Lake Saint Louis was infernally hot. Beginning that night, I had almost unremitting rain. Then, after the night of Tom’s passing, last Saturday, there’s been nothing but clear skies.

I stopped yesterday, a little before 3 p.m., to put myself in synch with the “celebration” going on at that hour two or three hundred miles to the north. I paused for about an hour at the little city park in Hoxie, AR, where I made tea and oatmeal on my camp stove. I also marked the occasion by having a “day without dollars,” meaning mostly that I ate humbly out of my bag, rather than indulging in restaurant fare. (Some of what I munched on included the trail mix you provided — thanks again, Maureen.)

If I’m going to break even on my bit of Social Security, a little over half of which goes to fixed expenses at home, I can’t spend much over $15 a day. I think that’s doable, but I’m running well over twice that now, though more than half of what I’ve spent has gone to Greyhound and outdoor gear. I expected to go over budget, and I expect my daily expenses to average a lot less now that I’ve made those two major, initial outlays. For years I’ve kept track of every penny — on scraps of paper, whose figures I periodically transfer to annual MS Excel files. So I figure I’m well within tolerance, budget-wise.

I imagine the roads will be pretty open, flat and fast between here and Lexington, about 500 miles, especially the earlier portion. It’s been very flat and quick going since I rolled off of the Ozark Plateau yesterday.

I’m hoping to sleep in the east side of the Mississippi by Friday night … but I know that’ll be a bit of a stretch. I’ll lose a lot of time today in Jonesboro, but after this I plan to do most of my writing for the blog in my tent after dark, and maximize travel in the daylight hours.

I want to be home by the end of October because the son of Elizabeth’s cousin in eastern Michigan is getting married in the first week of November. I’m hoping Elizabeth can get the time off work, that we can rent a car for a week and do the wedding in style.

Google maps indicates that I cross the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau. This is critical because the Interstate — and its associated bridges — won’t permit bicycle traffic.

I am not troubling with google’s street-by-street, frequent-turn directions. Maybe on my next trip, when I can plan it out more carefully in advance. I find the DeLorme atlas pages have decent scale for putting me on good highways, with ample shoulders, where I can make time and not get lost.

The complimentary, standard Illinois road map I picked up at the tourist info center in Clinton, MO, shows a free ferry from Illinois into Kentucky, where Hwy 1 turns into 91. I’ll just shoot across southern Illinois on 146, enjoying the nature preserves that route will take me through. Joel Skousen mentions this refuge in his book North American Guide to Safe Places, but he prefers the more expansive Ozark Plateau region to the west.

Once I’m in Kentucky, I’ll revert to plotting my own course towards Lexington, bypassing the big town, of course, then aiming across eastern Kentucky’s Appalachian region towards the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia.

I’ll permit myself 3 regular photos, hoping they don’t clog up your email in box. Later I’ll post this note on my travel blog.

  • #7993 – I camped in a gorgeous spot two nights ago, just east of Hardy. Here you see a morning mist rising off the river, where I bathed, then dried off naked in the sun. Without hurry, I sipped my hot, instant coffee sitting on the grass. As I was packing up my tent, which I’d left to dry out in the sun, farmers with their pick up truck waved at me from a distance — nice and friendly, no hassle about trespassing — nor did their large dog, whose footprints I’d noted in the sand on the previous evening, approach closer than about sixty yards. So far so good. 
  • #8014 – Local kids at the City Park in Hoxie, where I stopped to honor Tom’s “celebration” on Lake Saint Louis at 3 p.m. School was out by now, and these kids joined me at my table to work on a math lesson with somebody’s grandmother. The T-shirt of the boy on the left caught my notice. All three had traveled recently to New York City — the two older ones with a school group, and the younger girl, church affiliated. Note the ample figure of the woman seated to the rear, who’d waddled up clutching her bags of MacDonald’s fare. None of the counties around here permit the sale of alcohol. I think the whole northeastern corner of the state is dry. Perhaps because of this, there’s a slightly neat and tidy aspect to the entire region. But throughout the Bible Belt — from southwest Missouri all across northern Arkansas — I see a high proportion of obese people. I suppose they are clueless about the detrimental effects of “SAD” — “standard American diet.” 
  • #8026 – An hour before sunset yesterday I came upon another lovely place to spread out for the night … with a sizable patch of woods between me and the highway, and an immense field of peas to the west. The sky was clear, and stars shone brightly from above. I struggled to stay awake as I read a few more pages from Nesta Webster’s Secret Societies & Subversive Movements (1924) and listened to Daryl Smith interview David Livingstone — very interesting (Sep 15 archive, at <iamthewitness.com>) — with the last juice remaining in my laptop battery. 

Now I am almost juiced up again, and the day is wearing on. Time to wrap up my long respite here and move along.

Comments
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