I hope all are well on this Monday evening wherever it is you call home. I write from the small Indiana town of Greendale, just west of Cincinnati, Ohio. I arrived here this afternoon thanks to my good friend from back home in Tucson, Krista Wells. I’m here at her mother’s home, Carol, to help with some home repairs as she host me for a few days, while I work the CL in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky. I am grateful for the opportunity once again to be given a nice room, bed and table inside a private home and loving family. To be saved from the well documented truck stop facilities that I’ve been frequenting as of late. With those thoughts in mind, I have to tell you about my week in the Wolverine state and my amazing nine days with the Russell family. It was a two sided experience, since I struggled most of the week finding a gig for the list of fifty, yet at the same time being hosted by these beautiful folks. The frustration and the joy were fighting for space in my soul for most of the week, but after securing my gig last Friday, I spent the weekend lavishing every minute I had left with my new friends and family.
I’m still riding an emotional cloud of disbelief, admiration and humility about my time there. I will try to translate into words, but unless you have ever experience being let into somebody’s home and life, someone completely unknown to you, a total stranger, literally off the streets, then my words cannot express my heartfelt gratitude towards Dale, Stacey, and their kids, for their loving hospitality they extended to the Johnny Man.
As I last wrote you, my friend Lorie from Tucson realized I was in Ann Arbor and quickly moved to make it happen. She messaged her longtime friend, Stacey, and filled her in with why I was in the area and what I was doing as far as the tour was concerned. So as I sat at the truckers lounge last Sunday watching the football game and checking the CL in Detroit and Flint, these ladies were working it! Stacey called me a few hours later and invited me to come by meet the family. It happened to be Dale’s birthday, so a couple of hours later, I reluctantly stopped by the Hamburg address she sent me. They offered to host me and asked if I could help them refinish their kitchen cabinets while I searched for my gig. With dinner and a homemade chocolate cake on the table, how could I decline the offer? It was on from that point forward!
They introduced me to three of their four kids, Alex, Jenna, Adam and Gordy the puppy. We sat after dinner as I went into detail about my adventure and we talked for hours as if we were longtime friends who had been apart for a while. The ease and comfort in which I slid in that first night just set the pattern for the next nine days. They of course, have a genuinely good heart and it is on display 24/7. It was so easy to be sucked in by their warmth and love for not only strangers like me, but for all humans it seems. They treated me like a part of the family and I felt like I was on vacation, not a working tour. Surf and turf at Dale’s favorite place, pizza and a boat ride at their lakeside cabin, karaoke night, golf lessons, picking fresh berries at their farm co-op, Stacey baking my favorite German chocolate cake, deep personal conversations about love and life, just to name a few of the things they included me in.
My cup overflowed with loving kindness from these two very special people, who I even became a bit envious of, for they have succeeded where I have failed, to blend a step family successfully. It’s not easy to be a step parent and sometimes it can be a thankless job. Looking and spending just a week or so with them showed me why. Stacey, a nurse practitioner, is all heart. Selfless and in tune with everyone around her, she shares of herself tirelessly. Dale, a self-employed salesman is a go getter is all about the family and friends. Constantly teaching and sharing his knowledge with those around him. They have mutual respect and admiration for all humans, regardless of their skin color or lot in life and more importantly, each other. They have a solid family unit and a large group of friends from all walks of life, some which I had the pleasure of meeting. (Sophie, Joannees, Perry, Scott)
It was hard departing from the state of Michigan this morning, but my gig was complete and the cabinets were done. But thanks to Dale and Stacey, my mind was at peace and my body is well rested to continue forward. My gas tank was full, my suit case was loaded with winter garments, shoes, boots and long underwear, (Stacey is worried about the gigs guy freezing to death in the Dakotas) my cooler full of apples from their tree and much more. Yes, much more than I deserved or than I could have ever imagined just ten days ago as I sat at alone watching football, wishing I was back home. This friends is one of the reasons I press on with this journey, the human element. I keep on adding to the list of friends constantly and now I will add on to the list of family members, the Russells!
Thanks Dale, Stacey and Lorie H. in Tucson and thanks to you who follow me as I roll on across America!