— By LARRY M. JONES
A good friend of mine, Jimmy Hall, recently passed away after a tough battle with cancer. Every time I think of Jimmy, I have to reflect on his exemplary work ethic. A longtime dairyman and stock farmer, he would put in more work after quitting time than most folks would do all day.
In addition to being a hard worker, Jimmy seemed to have another trait that I respected – the ability to hook up to his travel trailer and relax for a time. I’ve heard for years that when you work hard you should reward yourself; otherwise, you lose your incentive to work.
Always being one to try to get along and not rock the boat, I decided that my wife Helen and I should take a small vacation and relax. We had tried to do this last summer when we headed for the Florida Panhandle for a little time on the beautifully white beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. Thanks to Hurricane Isaac, this venture didn’t have a fairy tale ending. We drove almost 2,000 miles, “enjoyed” one day on the beach, and arrived back home totally exhausted from our relaxing and cathartic sojourn.
As I have mentioned before, we were not exactly strangers to being pushed around by hurricanes – especially those beginning with the letter “i.” Four years earlier in 2008, we were forced to flee in our travel trailer from the Texas Gulf Coast when Hurricane Ike came screaming ashore.
Despite having been skunked in previous years, we were determined to take a relaxing sabbatical that would rival even those frequent golf junkets taken to Hawaii by our Imposter-in-Chief. This year nothing could go wrong! Hurricane season was still months away, the weather is beginning to feel spring-like, and I had carefully checked and performed required maintenance on every facet of both travel trailer and pickup. Two weeks ago, we launched out of the “pore” farm with high hopes and great expectations of a lovely visit with several groups of friends and relatives in the Hill Country, the Rio Grande Valley and the Gulf Coast. Life was good.
Soon after arrival at our first stop in Fredericksburg, Helen began to feel nauseous and was running a mild fever. Laying low for a couple of days, she recovered sufficiently to proceed to New Braunfels to celebrate her mother’s 92nd birthday. The following day we headed for Mission in the Rio Grande Valley to rendezvous with several other retired Navy and Marine Corps couples. Grapefruit, avocados, fantastic Tex-Mex food and great camaraderie lay just ahead.
Upon arrival, I began coughing, sneezing and shivering with fever. I spent the following day in the Mission Regional Medical Center with acute bronchitis. Two days later we headed for Corpus Christi where I planned to visit old skeet-shooting friends, Elton and Nina Needham.
En route, Helen began experiencing severe chills and coughing. Nina, a retired RN, helped keep Helen comfortable through the night, and the following day we began our long and painful trip back to the “harsh reality” of the “pore” farm. Now that I have time to reflect on it, I don’t know how many more of these relaxing “vacations” I can handle.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.