I was in a panic condition….my head was buried in one of my wardrobe drawers looking desperately for my wallet, which of course, contained all my credit cards, driver's license and other important pieces of plastic. I knew I had it two days before, a Friday, at a tire store where Diane and I spent most of the day getting four new tires installed on our motorhome. Now we were sitting in the parking lot of a Flying J's fuel station, bedroom slide outs extended, somewhere on I-95 south of South of the Border with my wallet no where to be found.
I discovered my wallet gone when I opened the drawer under the coach dash. We needed fuel and I had just gone through all the trouble of unhooking our car due to the fact I made a short turn into the pumps. I couldn't take the coach past the curb and had to back up. I couldn't do that with the car attached. Now I had no card and to make matters worse, Bank America decided to suspend Diane's credit card at the exact same moment we discovered that my Discover card was off on a trip of its own. We knew they suspended it because her cell rang and they were on the other end asking a ton of questions about where we were and why certain activity was showing up on their credit radar.
Like we needed that irritation right now...I was on the mental verge of something very unpleasant. This situation was adding to weeks of stress and anguish, that we had been living with since before Halloween.
As I was throwing my underwear, pajamas, socks and other items from my drawer onto the bedroom floor, I could not resist nursing my anger and frustration at the way our circumstances had turned out: I had a lost wallet and all the trouble that would bring including canceling credit cards, and now I was being forced to get a new driver's license when we were hundreds of miles from home. How was I to go about that? Was trouble to never end?
It all started back before November 12th . That was the day we signed a contract to sell our house. We were rather excited and relieved that it did not need to be on the market for long. We had a buyer take a looky-look six hours after it listed, in early October, and an offer the day after that...a very low ball offer, which should have served as a warning.
The offer was almost fifteen thousand less than our asking price, so we turned it down. The agent for the “buyer” said the “buyer” was very aware of the city tax assessment of our house. The assessment matched their offer. Our agent told their agent that the assessment was not correct, it did not have all the square footage and did not reflect any improvements we had made over the years. We countered the offer with our asking price, but did not reject the “buyer”...another mistake as it turned out.
We didn't hear any more from them or should I say her, for about a month. In the meantime, in order to downsize, we tried to have a yard sale but a little bitty October storm name Joaquim messed that plan up. I bought a yard sale permit, we boxed up tons of stuff to sell, picked up tables, staged it all in our garage and then this hurricane brought twenty one inches of rain over the next four days. And then we had a yard sale rain date and were hit by a Nor'easter that added more water to our already soggy yard. So the yard sale had to be put off for quite awhile.
During all this time of rain, the roof of our house sprung a leak in multiple places. Most due to old dried out rubber boots around the pipes that escape up through the roof. A couple of air circulation vents leaked as well. Not much water just a bit of seepage, but it added to all the other things going wrong trying to sell our place. I patched them all but I must have missed one over the front porch, that one would be discovered later.
Diane and I made plans the year before to travel to the FMCA GEAR rally in Asheville, North Carolina. We had volunteered to drive the handicap golf carts, shuttling attendees between their coaches and all the event locations. Volunteers arrived two days early at the rally location, which happened to be the Asheville Agriculture Center, located across the street from the Asheville Airport.
So around the middle of October, just after we cleaned up from the storms, we headed down towards Asheville with our first overnight stop to be at Midway Campground on I-40. We arrived late in the afternoon, checked in, and then we were guided to a pull thru site that was so slanted that I could not level the coach without unhooking our tow car. If I didn't unhook the car, the jacks on the coach would lift the front wheels of our Saturn Vue off the ground. I headed out the door to unchain the car and when my foot hit the top step, it felt like it folded up under my weight. That pitched me forward which almost caused my face to hit the ground. I got up and dusted myself off.
The steps were deployed but did not lock into position. They would not retract either. It was obvious that something was broken. It was also obvious that I could not unhook the car without moving the coach forward at least ten feet. I could not do that with the steps out. Great, a cascading problem I have here.
I dug around in the basement for some large tie wraps. I took a couple of them and tied up the steps, after closing them first, of course. Then I pulled the coach forward, unhooked the car and backed both it and the coach to where I needed them to be. Then I made some steps from leveling blocks that I, like a lot of RVers, keep in the coach for just such a time as this.
We had dinner, took a walk around the campground, watched some TV, including the local news and then hit the hay.
We headed out bright and early the next morning. It was not going to be fun to have to climb in and out of the coach without any steps but it was only for one day and hopefully no one would forget, step out, and take a big fall.
No one did, but I came very close when we made a stop for fuel. I managed to grab the door handle to keep myself from flying out and banging a body part or two against a gas pump.
We finally arrived at the Ag Center without any further trouble. We pulled in, were led to our spot by Andy our fearless leader, and performed all the necessary hookups. We carry a Golds Gym step aerobic adjustable step (who uses one of those anymore?) as an additional step when our retractable steps are high. I took it and jammed it behind our entry steps. This worked out well, it kept the steps deployed and stable. Without them that first step is a bit high. After I came up with this quick but temporary fix, I started calling the mobile RV techs in the area. One agreed to come by in a couple of days and take a look.
When he arrived and after crawling under the steps, I was told the motor (it's the same type of motor that moves car windows up and down) was shot and would need to be replaced. He called a supplier and had one shipped out overnight. Overnight shipping was cheaper than regular shipping..go figure.
About twenty four hours later that problem would be solved. Unfortunately, many more were heading our way.
I was suffering from a nagging stream of unpleasant thoughts. We were determined to have a good time at this rally. It was taking place at one of our favorite places to visit, Asheville. The weather was nice, clear, cool, and the leaves were changing to their brilliant fall colors. Yet, I was worried. I was worried about selling the house, not that it would not happen, but I was concerned about letting go of it. We had lived there for almost thirty years. We raised three kids, ran a business from there and had a lot of Christmases, Birthdays, Mother's days, along with other events that added to a large stack of memories. Our house was also beautiful. Diane had done such a great job of decorating it (with a small budget), the house was very comfy and very pleasant to live in.
How could I give, what had been our life in that house, up?
I knew I had to, I just didn't know for sure if I could.
I shoved all my misgivings and worries to the mental back burner and tired to make the best of where we found ourselves at this moment. We went to the Moose Cafe. We visited the Southern Highland Craft Guild Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also attended their major fall exhibition at the Asheville Civic Center.
All the exhibitors were excellent crafts persons. The artwork was amazing, however it was disappointing due to the fact that most the work was a modern interpretation of the older Appalachian style. There were basket sculptures that were obvious works of art but there were no traditional baskets on display. The same could be said for pottery and glass. The crafts people of Appalachia made wonderful things that were also useful. Not too many years ago the members of the Craft Guild did the same thing, but this year many of the members were transplants from New England and other places outside of the mountains and they had a much different idea of what to make, display, and hopefully sell.
There was one notable exception. There was a luthier there. A luthier makes wooden stringed instruments. What got our attention was that this luthier, whose name is Mark Eubanks from Eubanks Kentucky, makes high quality, beautiful sounding mountain dulcimers. A year earlier we visited Black Mountain and while there we purchased a used dulcimer for Diane at The Song of the Wood mountain music shop but she really wanted to look at these.
Mr. Eubanks was with another customer, a first time dulcimer owner, so knowing that he would be tied up for sometime we wondered around a bit more. I would every now and then, pop over to his booth to see if he was free.
At one point I saw our chance so I grabbed Diane and we returned to the wall of Dulcimers. She really likes her dulcimer but she quickly found that there was something special about Mr Eubanks' carefully created instruments, one of them in particular.
She only had to play the honey colored hickory wood dulcimer for just a few minutes before I knew, by the sound it made and the look on Diane's face, that she had to have it...so we happily bought it.
If you know anything about mountain music then you would know that a dulcimer made by the same person who crafted one for the Jean Ritchie Family is a special dulcimer indeed.
After making our purchase we talked with Mr. Eubanks for quite a long while, and then the two of them played a tune together. I thought Diane did quite well not knowing the instrument's feel yet. The people who gathered around to listen thought so too.
We were very pleased with our only purchase of the day, and so we decided to head back to our motor home. We we tired and both of us had hurting feet. We also needed to take care of Teddy Bear, the Wonder Cocker, who by this time, had been left alone for some four hours guarding the coach.
As we were heading down the exit ramp that would take us to the exit, I heard a voice call out;
“Derrick, Diane! Is that really you?”
I turned around and recognized Margaret Wetzel, a more than very close friend of Diane's family and who was her father's former secretary, assistant, office manage, right hand person, all those things rolled into one. Margaret worked for Gus for years until he sold his business.
It had been a very long time since we had last seen her, and seeing her now was a very big surprise...a good one.
Diane and Margaret spent quite a bit of time catching up. There were hugs and some tears too I think.
All too soon we had to part again. We were back in our coach about an hour later.
It had a been a pretty good day. Diane loved her new dulcimer (I made a mental note that we would soon need to visit the Song of the Wood in Black Mountain to buy her a new dulcimer bag.) Diane was also very happy to have a visit with Margaret.
I thought it strange to run into Margaret, but then I thought it might not be so strange. I realized that this short reunion told me that I didn't have to live in our house in Portsmouth to see old friends and I certainly didn't need to live there to make new ones.
I didn't need the house, I needed to start the process (for real) of totally letting it go.
Easier said than did or done.
That would prove to be a very large understatement.
I will soon tell you about it.