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Andy Anderson's Last Column
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William C. (Andy) Anderson has written the �Off Ramp� column in the Motorhome Magazine since 1988. After a spectacular career as an Air Force officer and then a successful novelist and Hollywood Screen writer, he spent the last 20 plus years as a fulltime motorhomer along with his wife �Big Red� and his motorhome �Rocinante�. Andy passed away recently at the age of 83. This is his final article and as a fellow RV�er I think it brings everything into focus. It�s a little long for something to read on the computer screen, you might want to print it out. But either way please enjoy it.


Shuffling Off the Mortal Coil

Let's face it. Sooner or later, we must all face the Grim Reaper. For, unfortunately, no one has ever gotten out of this life alive. Whether we kick the bucket, buy the farm, cross the divide, pay nature's debt or head for the last roundup, they all result in the fact that one is no longer the life of the party.

Now, is this a reason to be particularly morose? Not on your peregrinating commode. For it was the fatalist Woody Allen who penned, "I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens." And was it Plato or Aristotle who passed on the classic, "Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The nearer you get to the end, the faster it goes." It is these immortal words to live by, passed down through the generations, which take the sting out of a timely demise.

Should the final curtain necessarily create a lot of wailing and weeping? Not necessarily. Unless one is cut down in the shank of life, which is a whole different story. But for older poops who have seen a lot of summers float by and can't remember where we left our motorhome or our teeth, the only mourners who will attend our memorial services will be the heirs, who just got stuck with our final hospital bill.
The secret to a happy passing? Get in that motorhome every chance you have. Get out, hit the open road, visit new places, meet new people, and you'll find that your life has been much richer, happier and fulfilled. And you will have chalked up some marvelous memories in your memory bank to draw upon when you have to finally hang up the RV keys. And your passing will not be mourned.

If one, like all good RVers, is friendly to others, subscribes to the Golden Rule, treats others like you'd like to be treated, and keeps one's tires properly inflated, your departure will be celebrated, not mourned.

Big Red and I recently attended a memorial service for an old friend who had led a good life. A brief service was held, and a microphone passed around so that people could share smutty jokes about the deceased. A combo had been hired, and after the "eulogy" it played his favorite song, You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog. The bar was opened and the attendees danced the night away. Is that class, or what?

Indeed, word has come to us, from a usually unreliable source, that one of our motorhome devotees decided that when he crossed the River Styx, he wanted to be buried in his motorhome. This was a somewhat awkward request, as his RV was a 40-foot cliesel with three slideouts. The sexton in the small Midwestern town allowed as how this wasn't the greatest idea, since burying a huge motorhome would take up a large part of the cemetery. The man's heirs understood this, so the RV lover was buried in his dinghy - a 1967 Volkswagen.

A report also came in from retired Captain William Fairhurst, who lives in Three Forks, Montana. He writes a paean to his Marine buddy, Harry: "Harry was a WW2 Marine who had been on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I was a Marine from the Korean War, and we had tipped a few beers through the years. "Returning to Three Forks, Montana, after being discharged, I had started a part-time flying service, mainly to keep my hand in flying. One morning a rather elderly lady named Rose appeared at my hangar with a request to scatter her recently deceased husband's ashes over the Beartrap Canyon of the Madison River. Turned out the ashes belonged to Harry, who
"Harry had put the bite on me for $20 only a few months earlier. But what the heck. Harry was a likable old codger and the flight would be less than an hour. Fly to Beartrap at dawn. Open the window of ]-3. Pour out the ashes. Go home. Semper Ii.

"The widow showed up at my hangar early the next morning with Harry in what looked like a large coffee can. I had taken off my greasy flying suit and put on a clean shirt for the occasion. After all, Harry deserved the best even if he had stiffed me for the $20.

"We took off, enjoying a pleasant conversation. At 6,000 feet over the Beartrap, I opened the side window
of my plane and poured the ashes out. The slipstream poured the ashes right back in the window, filling the cockpit with the deceased husband and my former drinking buddy. Turned out that even in death, Harry could be a real pain in the butt. I was covered, the widow in the backseat was covered and the cockpit was covered.
"Thankfully, the results of intensive cremation are like the ashes you take from the wood stove � clean and purified by fire. Which is why you won't be harmed if you happen to get a lot in your mouth and nose. Which I did. Also the widow. Although we both were trying to be respectful of the dead, we spent a lot of time spitting and blowing our noses on the flight back to Three Forks. We didn't converse much; I guess there's not a lot you can say under such circumstances.

After we taxied up to my hangar, the widow departed. She must have wanted me to feel better, so her parting remark was, "Don't worry about it. Harry was a screwup all his life, too." "There was a lot of Harry in the cockpit. I got the vacuum cleaner, and after vacuuming the plane, I had a full bag. Since my hangar had no bathroom facilities in the 1950s, I found myself in the outhouse, emptying the vacuum bag down the hole. Suddenly it dawned on me that maybe this wasn't the best place for Harry to spend eternity.

"Last year the Gallatin County Airport Board decided to do away with the outhouse since there was a toilet in the new building. So the outhouse was removed, and I planted some trees where it once stood.

"If you happen to bring your rig, or your plane, and attend the annual fly-in at the Three Forks airport, you will notice the flowers and the small trees. I guess that's my way of soothing a guilty conscience. All that night soil should really make those flowers and trees grow. And so Harry. after 'rejecting' the Beartrap, ends up buried in one of Montana's nicest places. "So long, Harry. Rest in peace."

Now that is probably not the way we would prefer to go if we had' our druthers, but there is no question that Harry had had a good life.

So the moral of all this is: Get into that RV of yours every chance you get, and drive the wheels right off of it. Recent events have shown that we are tethered to life by a very thin thread. No one ever knows just when that thread is going to be clipped. So the only thing to do is live one day at a time, milking each for all it's worth. Then when the time comes, you can say you have truly lived.

And there is no way better to live than to have your own rubber-tired get-away-from-it-all vehicle. So don't procrastinate. If you are thinking of buying or renting an RV don't wait another day. It might be too late.
As Big Red, my favorite sidekick, says, "I want to die young - as late as possible." And our perambulating parlor is keeping her young.

When I shuffle off the mortal coil, we're going to have the gol-dangest going-away party there ever was. Complete with a dance band, open bar, the works. I want it to be a bang-up celebration. The memorial service will be a toast with the clinking of glasses.
For thanks to Rocinante, our rubber-tired steed, a loving wife and a passel of good kids, I am ready for whatever comes. For I have truly supped the ambrosia of life.

[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited July 31, 2003).]

[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited August 01, 2003).]

[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited August 01, 2003).]

[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited August 01, 2003).]
Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am just posting this reply so that this article goes to the top. I just like it so much.

Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The 82 MCC {by Barth}
is not an rv--
it is a Motor Coach!!

Posts: 2818 | Location: Nova Scotia | Member Since: 12-08-2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of 6/19
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That was a good read , thanks .

Sam is 11 year old Miniature Schnauzer
Currently without a coach

Posts: 235 | Location: Mooringsport,LA | Member Since: 05-30-2019Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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