I Named Her "Louise"

Introducing Louise

There are many lessons that we learn or can potentially learn on life's journey. In her excellent book, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, Joyce Rupp observes that many of the most significant, transformative life lessons are learned in "a slowly awakened way." This strikes a note with me as I think about my relationship with my motorhome Louise.

My 37', 2005 Newmar Mountain Air, RV didn't always have a name. Oh, I have called it many things, including financial albatross, mechanical nightmare, nemesis, and countless other negative names, none of which are suitable for a website visited by my granddaughters!

A little stage setting is in order. My husband Ed and I had always loved to camp. We had been up and down in accommodations from tents to pop-ups to travel travelers, to an older, smaller motorhome, and finally to a luxury motorhome. Our intent was good, even if our good sense was not. For several years we enjoyed this motorhome and had great times with both our granddaughters and just the two of us. Ed managed the mechanics and the city driving, while I took care of the logistics and my share of the highway driving.

However, life has a way of intruding and sometimes in a heart-wrenching manner. Ed spent 2010 fighting cancer and the aftermath of its treatment. During that time, the motorhome enabled me to take Ed to see his mother Alice on what would be her last Mother's Day as well as, a few months later, her final days on earth. In October 2010 Ed passed away and the motorhome was left in storage for most of the next two years with brief trips by family members and an occasional feeble attempt on my part to use it.

"Owning my toys" became a mantra with me. I had Ed's bike shown in the picture above made into a trike for me. I sold our home and bought an older, more manageable one. I returned to work after a year's hiatus. I supported my family. I learned, with varying degrees of competency, to do many of things that Ed had previously done. However, when it came to the motorhome, I was lost. Selling it was not, and is not, an option since I owe far more on it than it was worth. Lost and stuck.

Finally, this past July I was ready to "get my arms around" my motorhome. I took two days of one-on-one driving classes which gave me the confidence to drive the motorhome, although parking remained (and remains) a challenge. I invested a $1000 plus in repairs many of which came from disuse. I bought a small car with a manual transmission to tow, and I moved the motorhome to a storage facility closer to home. At each step of the way, there were obstacles and frustrations. Finally, this past week I moved my motorhome in to my driveway with the intent of putting it on house current to keep it from freezing and ready to serve as overflow space for Thanksgiving. However, true to form, my normal house plugs were not strong enough to run the heater so I finally had a 50 amp plug installed on the house and have my motorhome finally at home.

This was an emotional and practical turning point. I decided if I was going to really "own my toy" and leave the tears of frustration behind, I had to do three things. The shorthand for these actions is: Learn | Shut Up | Be Faithful. First, I came to recognize that part of what made me so unsettled was the sense of vulnerability and incompetency of not understanding the mechanics of the motorhome. This is no small feat - this is a complex vehicle but it is not rocket science. Secondly, I had to drop the negative language and the retelling of the tale of woes. I was reinforcing the negative and giving it power. Finally, I had to bring to my relationship with the motorhome, one of my key life beliefs, i.e., that all things work for good for those who love God and are called unto his purpose (Romans 8:28).

So, I am starting fresh. I have a clear study agenda and am taking advantage of having the motorhome handy to explore. I have explicitly turned this situation over to the Good Lord, along with the rest of my life. Finally, I decided to give my motorhome a name, a name more consistent with my new positive perspective. My good friend Diane and I were discussing it and she suggested Louise. I loved it. It fit. It was only later that I realized that I could still say "Jeez Louise" when the inevitable hassles arise - old habits die hard!

More to follow...