Tag: Volunteerism Youkilis

Surprise!

One of the things that my mother was notorious of was always wanting to surprise people.

Her entire life, she really seemed to enjoy surprising others.  On her travels, she brought this to an entirely different level.  She would simply show up on the doorsteps of friends and family who had no idea that she would be there.  This was long before the days of social media, so in most instances, people had no idea that she was in the area.  Many times, they didn’t even know that she embarked on her solo road trip across the country.

I did a leg of that trip with her down the east coast from Pennsylvania to Florida between my Junior and Senior year of high school.  On just that short span, she thought that it would be a great idea to stop and surprise my cousin, Paul, or “Tink” as we still called him.  He was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, stationed at Quantico.  Sure enough, she thought that it would be “neat” to show up unannounced on his doorstep at about 7:15 in the morning.  We arrived in his driveway, and the debate started.  She wanted me to go up and ring his doorbell and tell him that I was lost.  I said, “No way!”  Tink was the oldest of our cousins on my mom’s side, and to say that he was an intimating figure would be an understatement of epic proportions.  He was a former Division I college football player and as I had mentioned earlier, currently a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  I hadn’t seen him since I was probably about 11 or 12 years old.  The thought of a soon to be 17-year-old kid with a mullet waking up a Marine at 7:15 AM by ringing his doorbell just didn’t seem like it would end well for said soon to be 17-year-old with a mullet.

However, debating with my mother was rarely a winnable task, so, there I was walking up to Tink’s door, stopping and turning around and seeing my mother, then continuing what would surely be my death walk to the front door.  I sheepishly rang the doorbell and anxiously waited for my certain demise.

Tink answered the door in his gym shorts and torn up t-shirt and went about the routine saying that I was lost as my mom quickly sprung out from around the corner, yelling, “Well I figured if you wouldn’t be able to make it to the family reunion, we had to stop by and see you on our way to it!”

“Aunt Loretta! …and is this, Danny!?  Oh my God, you’re so big now!”  Tink exclaimed.  “What a great surprise!  What are you guys doing here?”

There it was, she did it. Tink was so happy to see us.  He immediately invited us into the house and introduced us to his wife and stepson, who neither of us had even met yet.  I can only imagine what they may have been thinking at that moment.

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Three Years

Three years ago today, Sandy, Youk, and I set out on this crazy full-time RV journey.

Since that time, we’ve been to 43 states and a little piece of Canada.  We have traveled over 56,000 miles, and made countless new friends and memories.  We’ve been awed by God’s beautiful creation time and time again.  We have visited family and friends that we hadn’t seen in years.  We have also made sure to get back to see our family and friends that we had left back in Pennsylvania often.

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A Day to Remember

September 11th is a day that I will never forget for multiple reasons.

I remember it because of the tragic events that took place that day and I remember it because of the work that my mom did during relief efforts with the Salvation Army at Ground Zero in the months following that fateful day.

Today, on September 11, 2022, 21 years after that horrific day, I sit in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Antigo, Wisconsin waiting for Sandy to get our supplies for the next two weeks as I write this.  Once she gets back to the RV, we’ll head a few miles down the road to meet our friends from A Year to Volunteer (Y2V) and prepare for a two-week volunteer project at the Raptor Education Group (REGI).

I find it ironically fitting that we are preparing for a volunteer project on September 11th.

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