January started off celebrating Lucille’s mother’s birthday and ended celebrating her father’s life. As we have been doing the past several years, we kicked off the New Year with a birthday party for Lucille's mother, with a twist. Pat and Yvette fixed the entire meal and brought it down to the nursing home where Lucille and Yvette’s father resides. Add an ice cream cake and life doesn’t get any better than that! The nursing home allowed us to use one of their common areas which we decorated – a good time was had by all.
Because we were heading to Brunswick that day and Richmond Hill was on the way, we went down there with our home-on-wheels, parking it at one of the churches adjacent to the nursing home. After the party, we then left for Brunswick - it was good to get back to that area and see our Habitat friends. The local Exchange club generously donates their fairgrounds campground for our stay there. All we have to do is keep the gates locked – wotta deal – a private gated community!
First event planned was enjoying the breakfast buffet at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel – scrumptious as always. For several reasons, the affiliate didn’t have much for us to do so we had a couple of days off which we took advantage of. We made a third trip down to Dick Gore’s RV World in Jacksonville to check out yet another possible home-on-wheels. Well, as they say, the third time’s the charm – we liked what we saw and after negotiating with Mr. Gore himself, as well as our salesman and sales manager, we agreed to what we feel was a fair trade-in for our truck and fifth wheel and a good price for the motor home. We are now the owners of a 2011 Newmar Canyon Star 38-foot gasoline powered motor home.
We had started looking at used diesel pushers but found out most RV dealers no longer offer any type of warranty. They allow you to check out the unit as much as you want while it’s still on their property and anything you feel needs to be repaired will be done on their nickel. However, once you drive it off their lot, anything wrong is your responsibility. Larry is extremely detail-oriented and mechanically-inclined but we were gun shy about something unexpected cropping up within days of purchasing. We then started looking at new rigs but realized getting a new diesel pusher was out of our budget. Larry found this Canyon Star online and was very impressed with its ratings with RV.Org and its carrying capacity. Once we got to see it in person at Dick Gore’s, we liked the floor plan, furnishings and colors.
Now the fun began – finding the unit was the easy part. Financing it was not only quite the challenge but very stressful. Banks have tightened down their lending requirements since the beginning of the year. Even though we have an excellent credit score and can easily pay back the loan, we didn’t have sufficient proof of a physical residence. (A note of advice to any full-timers out there wanting to purchase another RV – start ‘building’ some type of proof. You can email us for more information on what we went through – it was not a pretty picture.)
After much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, we obtained our own financing and picked a date to get the Canyon Star. Now even more fun began – we rented a covered Uhaul trailer and started transferring most of our ‘stuff’ into it. Where in the world did all this ‘stuff’ come from? We filled up close to twenty file boxes and that doesn’t count the oversized items. Time to do some housecleaning!
On the day we picked up the new motor home, we rented an RV site at Pecan Park RV Resort just north of Jacksonville and the dealer. (We highly recommend this park if you’re traveling through on I-95 or just want to stay for awhile. Really friendly folks and convenient to the interstate, Jacksonville and the airport.) The RV dealer arranged to pick up the tab for a second site so that we could park the rigs side by side and finish unloading the fifth wheel. Once we got the fifth wheel parked and leveled, we headed down to the dealer for our walk-through of the motor home. Lucille took copious notes of all its amenities. By 4 pm, we were on our way back to the RV park with our new home and a few hours later, all items were transferred. While most of our ‘stuff’ was in the Uhaul trailer, we’d left food, clothing and kitchenware in the fifth wheel. We slept soundly in our new home that night, then after breakfast the next morning, we brought the fifth wheel and truck down to Dick Gore’s, our last trip in what had been our home for the past eight years.
Back to Brunswick and the fairgrounds where in between what sporadic Habitat work there was available, we started adding our personal touches – hanging pictures, adding towel bars, etc… And of course, emptying out the Uhaul trailer, one box at a time, while we found a new home for our ‘stuff’. The Canyon Star has lots of storage but a lot of it is located in the exterior compartments. We’ve gotten creative with where we are storing our seasonal clothes, extra cleaning supplies, etc…
During all this change, Habitat work continued in Brunswick. Shortly after our arrival there, we attended the Hernandez house dedication. What was unusual about this particular home was that Jon, the affiliate’s construction supervisor, is also a volunteer fireman and had answered the call when their house caught fire two years ago. Being an integral part of their new home meant even more to Jon.
Two college groups joined us during their vacation breaks – we were honored to have worked with students from the University of Wisconsin as well as Auburn University. What a great group of young adults. We may not have had a house to build but they learned the basic construction techniques with the sheds we built for some of the Habitat homes.
The last couple of weeks were a blur. Lucille’s father ended up in the hospital for a week’s stay, battling a stubborn infection and possible pneumonia. We went up to see him one day but found him sound asleep – he’d been up and agitated for the past 36 hours so he was given a sedative to help him rest. A few days after he was released, his doctor at the nursing home felt it was time to bring in hospice. Her father’s battle with Alzheimers was nearing its end and the family agreed that we wanted to see him as comfortable as possible for whatever time he had left.
After having met the staff from HospiceSavannah who worked with him those last ten days, we cannot say enough good things about this organization. His hospice nurse, Diane, carefully explained all that they were doing and why. They brought him a special reclining wheelchair to aid his breathing; a circulating air mattress to keep him comfortable; and extra attention for all his daily needs. On Monday, the 31st, we were on our way to a medical appointment in Savannah and had stopped in at the nursing home in Richmond Hill for a quick visit when Diane informed us it was time to bring in the family. We knew the end was near but didn’t expect it that soon. The medical appointment was rescheduled and family members notified with trip arrangements started. The two of us spent about fifteen hours by his bedside that last day – he never regained consciousness but he was in no pain at all. Roger, the oldest of Lucille’s two brothers, managed to snag a last-minute flight from Arizona and got to the nursing home around 11 pm that evening – we suspect Dad was awaiting Roger’s arrival – he passed away soon afterwards.
Yes, it was sad to have lost the patriarch of our family but we all know he had a great life with wonderful memories left behind. Several things comforted us : knowing he didn’t suffer; he was going to meet his mother at last – she’d passed away shortly after he was born almost 89 years ago; and enjoying those last hours at his bedside, reminiscing about his life, visiting with the nursing home staff as they stopped in telling us funny stories of his stay there (he was quite the social butterfly and ladies’ man.) Love surrounded him those last hours – what better way to celebrate one’s life.
Coming up: A short stay at Camp Carr in Rincon; a month’s stay in Palmdale, Florida with lots of down time planned, as well as day trips visiting friends and relatives.