One of the best things about RVing is the people you meet along the way. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Willie.
I first met Willie while on a walk around the campground. He was walking his little black and brown dog and he was whistling. To be clear, Willie was whistling, not his dog, although both looked extremely happy. So, maybe the dog was whistling, inside his little doggie head. Anyway, I greeted both Willie and his dog with a friendly smile. Later that evening, Willie joined the community campfire. He sat right next to me.
- Employment. As is customary, folks new to the campfire introduce themselves to the group. Willie was asked what he did before retirement. “Well,” he said. “I was a maintenance engineer most of my life.” He leaned over and winked at me. “That’s just a highfalutin’ word for janitor,” he confided.
- Retirement plans. Throughout the evening, bits and pieces of Willie’s life were slowly revealed. He lived all his life in the same place, mid-Nebraska. Widowed just two weeks before he was set to retire, Willie decided to remain on the job. “My retirement plans died with my wife of 53 years,” Willie regretfully admitted. “We always planned to get an RV and wander all over the country. Instead, I worked another four years.”
- New plans. I wondered how Willie came to be camping if he’d given up his dream. So, I asked him. “Well,” Willie chuckled. “A while back my kids told me I was going to be dead within six months if I didn’t stop feeling sorry for myself. I took the money we’d saved up for an RV and bought our dream rig. It’s the little Class B. I still miss my wife. Every day. But I’m not dead yet. I’ve been traveling for two years, been in 22 different states, and I’m happy with my wanderin’ life. I think I’m gonna’ be ok.”
Grief certainly doesn’t follow a set schedule, but a nudge from his kids gave Willie the strength to live his dream. I feel confident that his wife would approve. Don’t you?
Do you have a story about a campground character? Please leave a comment below and tell me all about them.
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My wife passed 1 1/2 yr ago…we were gonna travel in our 32ft 5th wheel…that was just too much for me on my own so I had sort of given up on my dream However with the advent of the smaller 20ft trailers with bump outs I’m back in the saddle. Just bought a nice used one and am ready to hit the road…😊
So sorry to hear about your wife, Bill, and temporarily giving up on your dream. But we’re so glad to hear that you’re back in the saddle! We wish you many safe and happy RVing miles! 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
The grief one feels in the passing of his beloved wife is an emotion unlike any other-and an emotion one cannot prepare for.
Going forward as Willie is doing is admirable and, I think, honors what his wife meant to him during her short journey across God’s earth.
Great story, Gail! Thank you! Willie seems likely to keep on traveling and to also continue enjoying it. Nice that he has a traveling buddy.
Ditto, thanks for another great story!
This personal story makes my eyes fill up with tears of sadness and mostly Happiness. The strength of going on without your Love of your life is amazing. Terrific and very understanding kids!
Just hope everyone is able to do what Willie is doing when your Love passes on.
We met a couple at a beachfront RV park on the Strait of Juan de Fuca who had a slightly older model of our Class C RV. I saw the wife outside and mentioned that we had the same brand RV. She said that they were new to RVing, but were traveling around the US now that they were retired. It turned out that her husband had a fairly advanced case of Parkinson’s and could no longer drive. So she did all the driving and hookups at campgrounds, while he planned and navigated their trips. We invited them to visit us to answer any RVing questions they had and compare our favorite destinations. We spent two hours together and were amazed at all the places they had been and planned to go. You had to feel happy that they were able to travel despite the difficulties, but sad that you knew they had a relatively limited time to do it.
Why does everyone need to be defined by their past employment? Give it a rest around the campfire for Christ’s sake. Our obsession with categorizing everyone by their past employment status continues to obscure our common interests and shared values as Americans.
Maybe past employment is a common interest, also employment can give insight into the character of a person.
You are absolutely right Suzanne….Most people are too obessed with categorizing people. Our employment experience only reflects what we did….not who we are. We should have more meaningful introductions — like what did we like most about life pre/post RVing? What do we miss?? What would we change, if anything??
Stories like this are why my wife and I retired early at 60. We’ve been truly blessed to have had the health and resources to camp in 46 states so far over the past 7 years in our little Class B Winnebago van. In the process, we’ve enjoyed the companionship of so many new friends in the B van community. Hoping our health will allow us to do this for a few more years.
We had a terrible travel bug! So I retired ‘early’ and we bought our fourth RV, a class B, continued to camp, and travel – both in the RV and by riverboat, ocean liner or airline to the various destinations in which we were interested. Health issues now limit our activities yet we push on in the class B using a combination of campgrounds and occasionally a motel or hotel, especially when the weather is bad. Our motto: Keep Trucking on!
Willie’s wife is looking down and saying, “You go, Guy.” She will always be with you in spirit.
I agree. Thank you for your supportive comment, Tom. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
I can relate to Willie. My story is similar. My wife passed away a little over 2 years ago and I bought a Class B and travel continuously around the country. The difference is my wife would have NEVER wanted to travel in an rv. She always wanted to be in motels. So, I’m trying to enjoy life as much as possible without her, and I have to say I’m having a great time but I miss her terribly.
So sorry you lost your wife, but I am happy that you are traveling around the country in an RV.
Sorry your wife passed, Carl, but I’m glad to hear you’re carrying on and enjoying your life as much as possible. Best wishes for many happy and healthy years of traveling.👍 Take care. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com