Jottings: Why 'Country Roads' was my theme song recently
I hear her voice in the mornin' hour, she calls me.
The radio reminds me of my home far away.
Drivin' down the road, I get a feelin'
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain meadows,
Take me home, take me home."
— "Country Roads," John Denver
Recently, I found myself singing this song as my younger daughter, Kim, travelled back to Oregon from South Carolina. Two years ago she had driven a somewhat reverse trip with her Australian puppy, Conrad, and kitten-chicken menagerie through the Southwest and southern states. Her move to South Carolina was prompted by needs of a childhood friend, Nan, who has a chronic health condition and was worried that if she had a relapse, she might need physical support as she entered her medical residency.
Kim loved South Carolina and its weather, the warm Atlantic and expansive beaches where Conrad could perfect his racing speed. She quickly found a position as a veterinary technician and began teasing me about retiring there. Nan had two enormous dogs, two cats and a large yard. Kim was able to help her friend with this household management as well as physical assistance when health issues surfaced. Thus the arrangement was mutually beneficial until recently when enter the boyfriend and exit Kim. Unable to find affordable housing, Kim made the decision in mid-March to return to the northwest where housing and job offers abounded. Although supportive of any decision, I must admit that I was quite giddy at the thought of her return.
On April 3 Kim began her journey homeward. Her aging Honda CRV with over 300,000 miles was pulling a small U-Haul of belongings. Within the Honda rested Conrad, Ducky the kitten, and five chickens (Waffles, Noodle, Buffalo, Burrito and Beyonce.) That night she phoned from a Motel 6 to announce that she had arrived in Tennessee. I pulled out my mother's aged Atlas and magnifying glass and booted up computer maps. Friends added their prayers to mine. Weather anxiety loomed. March had brought many tornadoes to the south and these continued as Kim began her journey. With weather app in hand and travelling on a diagonal route through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska, Kim avoided the storms and would text me each night with her location once all were somewhat settled. The chickens would be housed in the motel bathroom with door closed to prevent curious Ducky entering their pen. Ducky and Conrad would then wear off energy by racing around the room until lights out.
The trip went smoothly except for Nebraska where 65 mph wind gusts and back-to-back semis owned the road. A photo was texted of Conrad blown sideways during a potty break. Magnifying glass in hand, my days were spent anxiously tracking Kim's journey. Would the aging car break down? If so, would it be in some god-forsaken town on the prairie? Would the car door locks prevail? (A rear lock was super-glued shut.) Anxiety would rise when I couldn't find the map route. (In the forty years since Atlas publication, it appeared that some roadways had been relabeled.) While Kim travelled through Wyoming, Utah and mountain passes, my phone remained an appendage. On Wednesday, April 6 Kim celebrated arriving in Ontario, Oregon. Yet, Cabbage Hill into Pendleton and the Columbia Gorge loomed ahead. My prayer circle amplified their efforts!
Mid-afternoon, Thursday, Kim arrived home. It wasn't to the mountains of West Virginia to which she returned but to the beauty of the Oregon Cascades and Pacific Ocean. Though Kim had travelled highways, not country roads, still the song had become our answered prayer.
Josie Seymour is a member of the Jottings writing group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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