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  • Tom Rastrelli

Letter #6 — Journey of Love

Dear Tommy,

What an adventure we just had, right? I feel it's necessary to explain why Jill and I decided to make this wild and crazy trip from Texas and live in Stevenson, WA. I mean we are in the midst of a pandemic of major proportion and we're pulling up stakes in a warm winter state where we lived for 13 years and saying goodbye to all our dear friends to move to a rainy and colder winter state. Some people would call that crazy!

I call this our Journey of Love.

It was Thursday July 23, 2020, and Jill and I had a visit from our oldest grandson Lukas, Jenny's 19-year-old son. His hour visit was preceded with his first statement that "now we were going to see the real Lukas!" He then went on to tell us that he was concerned about our souls going to hell unless we believed in everything the Catholic Church taught and continued to quote scripture and theology from his Latin Catholic Church guidelines. Since we believe in married priests, women priests, contraception and gay marriage he professed we were doomed to eternal damnation. We were appalled by his black and white belief system and objected to his judgement of us. He even called us heretics. His meeting was precipitated by a similar visit we received in January 2020 by his parents Jenny and Mike, who offered the same conclusion due to their church's teachings. We both stood our ground as we seemed to be looking at 2 different Gods, but we asked him if we could still communicate with him at college and send care packages of goodies to him and he said no, he didn't want cards, gifts, anything. We understood that to mean the entire family and they wouldn't partake in family events since we supported you and Bruce as a married couple. It would be a "scandal" for them to do that. We were quite stunned by his rigid rhetoric and as he left, I told him, "I guess the next time I'll see you will be in heaven." He retorted as he stood up, "I'm no longer culpable for you," and left.

On the following Saturday, Jill and I decided to make a move to live in Washington with Maria, Gabe and our four grandkids and you and Bruce who would be only two hours away. We had originally moved to Texas from Des Moines to be closer to Jenny's growing family in 2007 and be of any help we could by being Papa and Nina (Jill's moniker that Lukas gave her as a baby and stuck with all the six other grandkids). It was a major decision to make, but we felt we were no longer needed or wanted in their lives. We had hoped and prayed our relationship could improve but had seen it deteriorate through the years. We still love them, and they said they love us too, but they no longer respected us as we were abandoning their Catholic beliefs. Lukas's visit and ultimatum were the last straw. We were moving so we both could be surrounded by families that respected and unconditionally loved us. And with my health failing and knowing my days on earth were growing shorter, I wanted Jill to be in a place where she could easily and warmly be absorbed into a loving, caring atmosphere.

When we called you and Maria of our decision, you all were ecstatic with joy and immediately started to put an action plan into place. Maria and Gabe had a housing rental, a double-wide manufactured home on their property that they would give a 60-day notice. You laid out a complete schedule of duties for all of us to do so we could be in Washington by no later than the middle of October. The work began to move a seventy-three-year-old couple, one of which was ill with cancer, 2000 miles during the toxic Covid-19 pandemic and get us there safely.

In a nutshell, here was the plan.

  • Prepare, pack, stage and sell the house and line up mover and realtor.

  • Rent a RV mobile home and drive it from Washington to Dallas and back, so no restaurants or hotels would be needed.

  • Prepare our new home after the tenants left the end of September including wall to wall wood flooring, repainting every room with Jill's color palate, and pouring new 13x17 foot patio for our outdoor living.

  • Finding and setting up future appointments with all the doctors that I would need for my care.

Thus, our journey of love began. And it was truly a miracle how everything fell into place without a hitch. Mom worked like a beaver getting the house cleaned, staged and ready. I set up the movers and talked to our realtor Clare Weaver from church. You posted an ad on Facebook asking for anyone who had a mobile home to rent and you found one owned by Maria's friends Mellissa and Geoff who generously offered their assistance. You had several weekends where you got lessons from Geoff how to drive and setup the 37-foot home on wheels. Bruce prepped all the food needs and menus during our trip. Gabe and Maria lined up crews to do the home makeover. Maria and I found doctors and the best clinic to get my care solidified. It was a total team effort and done with purpose and speed and we were in Stevenson on September 30. I still stand in awe that it was done so quickly. We also got surprise financial help from Jill's two cousins Tracy and Tami and my buddy who I worked with in Cutco, Chris Heigel. And your brother Jeff bought a new washer and dryer for us as his contribution from San Diego. What a team!

When we got here, we spent two and a half weeks with you and Bruce, as our home wasn't quite ready. It is always fun when we can go to your beautiful "il Tranquillo" in Salem. We moved in on Oct. 13, pretty much like we had planned and right away we felt at home and felt the love that we craved surrounding us.

I guess it could be called wild and crazy, but I also think it could be called exactly what your mom and I needed at this time. And the courage, determination and focus all you kids, cousins and friends offered for us was amazing, memorable and miraculous. For all those things we are eternally grateful.




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