A Daughter’s Promise~

It was a deathbed promise made to her dad.

Look after your mom, he said.  I will, she responded.

A promise kept. But the how’s of keeping that promise? It was done in ways that not many could manage, or would be willing to attempt.

I was already on the road in PinkMagic, making my way towards our two older kids in Arizona last year when our daughter Rachael-Grace (Rae), called me up and offered to go on the road with me in my Odyssey of Love. Initially, I thought she said two months. No, she corrected me.  Six months.

And she was true to her word.

Rachael-Grace is in her early 30’s, married to Sean. They discussed uprooting their lives so that she could do this with me and for me and decided they were strong enough as a couple to make it happen. What this young woman did needs no embellishment, so I’ll just tell you simply.

She and her husband gave up their apartment, putting their belongings in storage.  Sean camped out in the desert and stayed with my son occasionally.  For 6 months he changed his entire life so that he could support her in this endeavor.  Shades of Handsome Husband there.

She saved up enough money to pay her bills while on the road and paid them faithfully.

She helped me create ritual as we visited each of the places Handsome Husband requested I visit to scatter his cremains. When privacy for doing such seemed impossible, she brainstormed and dreamed meaningful intention into being.

It was she who chronicled our travels in pictures, from the beginnings in Arizona, to the West coast, eastwards along the northern states to New England, south to Key West, and west again to Arizona. Without that, we’d have no record. I’ve lost interest in picture-taking for the most part.

She quietly sat with me as my body convulsed into pain and grief and made no judgement. She spoke with me of memories of her dad as I spoke of my husband.

She learned to tow PinkMagic, to set her up and break her down. If we were stationary for more than a few days she took it into her hands to create an altar for us, to establish our outdoor living space, and she cooked meals to tempt my poor appetite.

She made me laugh because she is irreverent and cryptic and, like me, suffers no sacred cows.

She assisted me with technology, locating us on her google maps and pointing us (mostly) in whatever direction we needed to go.

She patiently (mostly) listened to me tell the Odyssey story over and over again, as we met new people along the way. That couldn’t have been easy for her, I know.

She encouraged me, she pushed me, she called me out when I needed it, she tough-loved me. She taught me not to fear the dark places and shadows of grief and held a light for me to provide direction.

She listened to my (way too intimate at times) stories of me and my husband and our romance. Long before we arrived back here, her sensibilities had toughened. She knew I needed to tell my story and she opened her heart to my words and we learned to joke about it.  She became more than my daughter.  It wasn’t long after we began that the lines between mom and daughter (always close), disappeared and we became, quite simply, two women on the road, honoring a man we both loved, and who loved us.

It wasn’t easy for her and I never for a minute though it was.  It was a gift of Love she gave ardently and graciously to me but I fully realize it took an emotional toll on her.  For six months she was present every minute for me, subduing her own grief in many ways, so that she could stand strong with me.  There were many times in our months together when I know she, and her grief, must have felt invisible.  Widows generally are “seen” more than grieving daughters.  I sensed that happening and we spoke about it, but I know it had to be difficult at best.

She missed her husband desperately as PinkMagic ate up the miles and it gave her a glimpse into my world and it hurt her heart and she expressed that to me;  her husband was waiting for her when we were done and mine wasn’t and never would be again. It added yet another layer to her grief.  She was not only grieving her dad;  she grieved at watching her mom in such pain.

For six months, as we drove this Odyssey, Rachael-Grace brought life to my life. She brought Love, she brought continuity, she brought poetry and music and hula-hoops and her natural joy for life.  She brought acknowledgement and gave space and created magic for me.

She is grace personified. Her dad could never have imagined how she would keep her promise to him.  Wherever he is,  if he is, I hope he saw.  I hope he knows.

She kept her promise~10350356_10202636515534966_4300709640610250417_n

Happily Homeless is Moonstruck. Are You?

The weeks since March 27, the day I took my most beloved husband to the ER in southern CA, have been a Retrospective-the final travels of Happily Homeless.  It was gut-wrenching, re-living those days but I found a little more balance with hindsight and I’m glad I sifted through the memories in pictures and words.  Present over everything, seeping into the nooks and crannies of that experience, was the fullness of love.  For Handsome Husband, from Handsome Husband.   I still have questions but there is a little bit more of letting go of needing to find the answers, some of the anger around it, and even some of the questions and doubts.

The story of Happily Homeless.  How a man and a woman, children grown and out of the house, decided to sell house and belongings, get out of the rat race and adventure together.  A love story, perfect for us.  Four years on the road together, learning about this country, learning more about each other, fighting at times, loving always, dancing in Death Valley, watching the moon rise over all the lower 48’s, dealing with a first cancer successfully, and getting right back on the road, continuing on until the very end and then bringing Nothin’ but Love to him as a second cancer killed him.  A Once Upon a Time Love Story of me and Handsome Husband.

Here I am now, in Arizona, with a broken heart that somehow hasn’t killed me.  A life that is 100% changed except for the Love that he left behind.  And a mission to fulfill his final request of scattering his cremains at our favorite places from our 4 years of travel.

I return to the road full-time on June 20 in my PinkMagic rig.  My T@b trailer has been fitted out inside as a sanctuary at the end of the day.   Yet to be added on the outside front are the letters “FWG” in raspberry pink.  The polite meaning of those letters is “fierce Warrior Goddess”, for those of you who might be offended by what it really means to me-“Fucking Warrior Goddess”.  Because that’s what I am now.

I won’t be alone as I return to the road.  Our younger daughter, Kamahooptra, will travel with me on what we are calling our 2014 Nothin’ But Love Tour.

Here’s the big announcement, dear readers.  Happily Homeless is merging with Moonstruck, the business born of the Love left behind by the man who was my husband and her dad.   Happily Homeless is the story.  Moonstruck is the telling of that story and the love that has grown and rippled out in furious waves since his death.

What is Moonstruck?  How’s this for an explanation?  Moonstruck is a trailblazing, kick-ass, mom/daughter duo on an extraordinary mission of love that will inspire you, challenge you, and, just maybe, change your life.

Our face book page will stay the same, with a slight name change.  All will be easily accessible to you so that you can follow our adventures.  Believe me, the Happily Homeless story is only going to get bigger.  We’re going to make our mark on this country.  The story of this Odyssey of Love is going to draw in more people as Kamahooptra and I travel.  We’ll be blogging together and separately, updating you daily, posting pictures as we travel first north and west, then north, turning right to head to the upper West, south to Colorado, east to Indiana, NJ and New England, then south along the Atlantic coast to Key West, then along the Gulf coast to return to Arizona sometime next year.  Along the way we’ll offer workshops, blessingways, moon circles, videos about ritual, about where we are and what we’re seeing, and yes, what its like traveling as mom and daughter in this magical PinkMagic rig.

My life of travel with Handsome Husband is what prepared me to be able to do this.  This, the next year out on the road, is where I’ll find him again.  Re-visiting our favorite places, fulfilling his final wishes, carrying the story, spreading the Love..its where he’ll find me too.  As he told me he would.

You don’t want to miss this.  I promise, as you travel along with me and my daughter, you are in for an eye-opening ride of a lifetime.  10151125_642655059122765_1247848368_n

Meet my dad moments~

Father’s day.  It just doesn’t seem to receive the same massive hallmark outpouring as Mother’s day.  And yet, contrary to what media has tried to tell us these past decades, dad’s can be pretty important to a child’s development.

So, I thought I’d introduce you to my dad, the man who played a very important part of shaping who I am as a woman today. ( And I know you all think I’m pretty damn amazing, so there you go.)

Stuart Livingstone Miller.  There is some disagreement as to whether that  “e” ought to be at the end of his 2nd name.  New Englander born and raised.  Massachusetts born.

                                           Then raised in this house in Portland, Maine

When he grew up, he went to West Point Military Academy, where he met my mom, Betty Catharine, who was a nurse in NYC.   Upon his graduation, they were married at the chapel at West Point, crossed swords and all.

They honeymooned at that most popular destination, Niagara Falls, NY.

  His country called, and he deployed to the war zone in Korea, where, on his first day of duty, taking over command from David Hackworth, he was called upon to negotiate a hostage release with a soldier who just couldn’t deal with the battle stress any longer, and was holding a gun to the head of a fellow GI. My dad traded places with him and talked the guy down.

When he returned from Korea, on a troop ship, he and my mom set to work on growing their family. And, over the span of 18 years, they had, yes, they had EIGHT kids!

He served his country proudly, rotating overseas to Germany to participate in the Berlin air drop, plus two other times there in various locales.  I remember one of our tours in Germany when the 6 Day war happened, between Israel, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.  I’d come home from school never knowing if my dad would be home or be gone.  Tense time, even at my young age.

                                           He spent 6 months over in Turkey, on a solitary tour.

He spent 20 years in the Army, and retired as a Lt Colonel.  At the end of his career, he had the choice of either going to Vietnam or retiring.  You do the math.  Eight dependents, nine counting my mom (though she hated that term, as do I!) Already 24 years of service, constantly traveling with the military-he retired honorably.

My mom and dad divorced-no surprise there.  He lives out west in Colorado now, remarried.  I’ve seen him a couple of times as we’ve traveled as Happily Homeless, and we’ll be visiting him again in the fall on our way out West.  I’m so looking forward to seeing him.  He’s got a great sense of humor, and he passed that along to me.  I have funny memories of childhood Halloweens with him scaring the neighbor kids.  When I was 10 I discovered my Scottish roots and went nuts for it.  My dad was my compatriot throughout my high school years as I attended Scottish festivals to soak in the excitement of bagpipes and dancers.  After my trip to Scotland when I was 16, where I purchased a can of haggis-yes, it comes in cans apparently-I gave it to him as a gift.  My next birthday I got it back from him, wrapped.  And I sent it again to him for Christmas.  We sent it back and forth for years, until one year we didn’t.  Somewhere, that can of haggis still exists.  Probably ready to explode at this point!

My dad is a decent man.  He doesn’t think his life has amounted to much.  I disagree.  Yeah, he isn’t famous, but he matters.   My siblings and I aren’t particularly close, some of us, and we’ve had to do some healing work along the way, but we’re all strong, intelligent adults, and we’re raising strong kids.  He’s a good man, and I called him today to make sure he knows I think so.   And that I love him.  He’s my dad.