Kevin’s Travel Blog-9: Journey’s End

Hi Everyone! It is a bit late, but I am happy to relay the news that I am back home in Waco, TX safely! I arrived home on July 1st in time for First Saturday devotions that was initiated by members of the St. Gregory Society.

My time in Cincinnati ended well. We feted a couple of recent high school graduates on the last evening of my stay. It was a lot of fun. When I left on the morning of the 27th, it was a little difficult but business was calling and I had to go. I left around 9 a.m. for Tennessee and had a five-hour drive ahead of me. While the drive itself was 5 hours, at some point I crossed back over into Central Time and so I actually arrived around 1 p.m.

Speaking of time zones, there is something that I noticed during all the driving and travelling which I would like to share with you. Have you ever noticed the notable differences between the northern part of these United States from the southern with respect to daylight? I began to notice this difference in May, 2014 while up in New York. I had awoken sometime around 5 or 5:30 (Eastern) and it was broad daylight. Down in Waco, in Central Time at that hour, it was not quite as pronounced.

The observation from May, 2014 has been in the back of my mind ever since and was only confirmed during this trip. When I arrived in Wisconsin, even though still on Central Time, I could not escape the glaring fact of how much stronger the daylight was at that time. When I crossed over into Indiana and Ohio (now on Eastern), the daylight remained stronger. Once I headed south to Tennessee and later to Alabama (more on this later), I again noticed the difference in daylight.

If anyone has the scoop as to how this phenomenon works, I am truly interested in learning more. Please E-mail me.

That said, in my last post I had mentioned that I was not sure how I would take to my visit in Tennessee. I am happy to report that overall I think it went well, but there were some moments which were utterly private and rather emotional.

As I mentioned above, I strolled onto the property of Paul’s family around 1 p.m. (Central) on June 27th. This visit was the first time since Paul’s death and funeral that I was able to make it back. His wife had a lot of work done on her home since then and as my car came up to the house, I was able to see it after all that work. Well, the best resistance did not work for me and I began tearing up when I saw it. I quickly pulled myself together and parked my car shortly thereafter.

After trying to figure out which door to go to, I was greeted by Paul’s wife Ann. It was so good to see her. We visited for a bit, along with some other folks (family and friends) who were also present but shall not be named for privacy purposes. As a matter of fact, I will leave out a lot of names because the property on which Ann’s house is located is on her family’s property and so she is literally surrounded by relatives. To list everyone would be confusing!!

Ann also introduced me to her children, referring to me as “one of Daddy’s friends from college” (if memory serves). Though I had seen them all at the services for Paul, I am sure they would not remember me. For all sakes and purposes being, this was the first time they met me in a more “conventional” manner.

I think that it is safe to say that the kids took well to me. The first to do so was Paul’s daughter, though a close second was his youngest son, (known affectionately in the family as “Blazer-Dazer”). The children are very active—no question there as from whom they inherited that particular trait—and even the youngest has learned to climb things about the time he turned 1. I watched him practice this ability, and rather well I might add, throughout my short visit.

All of the children wanted me to play with them. Invariably, it involved some kind of physical interaction and I received some bruises on my left shoulder from a tumble off the swing. The youngest thought the fall hilarious, despite the fact that he went down with me. I did not mind him laughing as it was better than the alternative. Meanwhile, funny thing about losing all that weight—I don’t quite have the padding I once had….

The eldest child was more comfortable doing things with his siblings or being by himself. I offered to take him with me into town one day while I took care of some errands and Ann gave me permission. We had an “adventure” because my GPS decided not to cooperate—country roads can confuse technology, apparently. I bought a couple of things for an event I had planned later that night with Ann and the kids (more on that later).

The two older boys love legos and so I got them a “Ninjago” Lego set. In my day, the Pirate and Castle series were popular, now Ninjago is enjoying its time in the spotlight. Ann later remarked that I went straight to their hearts with this Lego set and I am glad to have brought some good into their lives. Prior to this, however, I had a moment with one of Paul’s sons. I was sitting in a recliner, relaxing, and this particular child came up to me, nestled up next to me and said, “I love you.”

There is nothing in this world that will melt faster your heart than a 5-year old child to do and say such to you. At the same time, it was also difficult because it reminded me a lot of how loving his father was. Ann is keeping alive the memory of their father and she has a lot of help from family and friends in this task. I ask whoever reads this post to stop for a moment and say a prayer for Ann and her family.

Aside from visiting with Ann and the family, there was visiting Paul. Here I will not say much out of reverential silence for what passed within my soul upon visiting his grave. I made two visits in my short time with his family, and both were difficult. There was tremendous emotion in both visits. No one disturbed me and I am grateful because seeing me in that condition would have been a bit embarrassing. I am a better man today because of Paul and I needed to be alone with him to express my gratitude for his life and witness. That is all that I have to say on these visits.

My last night with the family I busted out some presents that I had brought from Waco—blue and green glow sticks. I thought that the kids would get a kick out of them once night fell and my expectation was not confounded. One of my Household brothers, CD, would have been able to show them some really cool moves but I showed them some basic ones. They were enthralled and thought it was the coolest thing. Each of them had their own glow stick, that is until one of them (who might want to try out for baseball someday) threw it so high that it landed on the roof of the house and did not come down. I had no replacement. They also had fun popping some “party snaps” (or whatever they are called) which I had purchased during my errands earlier that day. Alas, we forgot the glow-in-the-dark balloons that night, but at least they had something for later.

Leaving on the 29th was not easy. Paul’s memory is all over that house and it was a miniature death to leave. The kids did not want me to go, and I did not want to leave them. I am glad that they live on Ann’s family property with so many cousins, aunts and uncles. This fact puts me more at ease.

I took one final leave of Paul and his family and headed down to Hanceville, Alabama on the 29thIn Festo S. Petri et Pauli—where I stayed until July 1st with a friend. I was able to visit the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament as well as the tomb of Mother Angelica. There I prayed for some personal intentions. On July 1st, I was up around 3:20 a.m. and out the door an hour later. I needed to get back home in time for the First Saturday devotions and thus made the 11-hour trip in one fell swoop, having stopped only once for gas. I pulled into my parking spot around 3:06 p.m., making the travel time about 10 hours and 46 minutes and 724 miles to the decimal from my friend’s house to my door.

Upon my return, some friends held a welcome home LCHF-friendly party for me. Thank you guys!!

Thus concludes the Summer 2016 Road Trip in memoriam of Paul Coakley. Here are some statistics:

Beginning car mileage: 98,444.8
Ending car mileage: 102,330.5
Total mileage: 3,885.8 (+/- 2 or 3 miles).

I travelled from Texas (June 5-7)-Arkansas (June 7-10)-Missouri (June 10-15)-Wisconsin (June 15-17)-Illinois (June 17-19)-Indiana (June 19-21)-Ohio (21-27)-Tennessee (June 27-29)-Alabama (July 29-July 1), and from there back to Texas on July 1st.

Beginning weight: 209.0
Ending weight: 206.8 (yes, it’s possible to go on a road trip and still lose weight, LCHF style!)

The experience was great and I can honestly say that I had a wonderful time meeting with friends, making new ones, and hearing the various stories of faith. It is a gift to see how each particular local church is doing and to hear of the happenings within them.

If you are able to make a road trip and see family and friends—do it!! Time is short and we do not know how much of it we have been given to us by God. Make it count and live a life of holiness. Pray, encourage the brethren, and, perhaps more simply—love.

-Kevin J. Symonds