Here we were in the midst of yet another military move and I could not believe what I was hearing.
For those of you who don’t know – all active duty are held to a weight limit according to rank. Surpass that weight limit and you pay a fee per pound with fees varying depending on the carrier and state.
I had failed to properly unload what my husband likes to call stuff.
How could we possibly have too much?
I had purged and donated and purged and thrown away so many things – and then purged again! I heeded the advice of the moving counselor, but to no avail.
Too much stuff? I don’t think so! And guess what? I don’t want to get rid of my stuff!
Why don’t you get rid of your stuff U.S. Government? Aren’t you the one with excess cheese to give away? What do you want me to leave behind Uncle Sam? One of our eight beds? One of our nine bicycles? My grandmother’s quilt? Or maybe a child would satisfy your blood lust?
No sooner had my thoughts of anger and dismay begun to dissipate; a smaller moving truck rounded the corner. The team filled the truck up and I thought to myself, “what’s done is done and I will deal with it on the other end”.
Standing on my lawn with a child on each hip I watched with great interest as the smaller truck circled around, backed up and made contact with the back of the 18 wheeler. “Wait!,” I screamed throwing both children to the side as I ran towards the truck”. “What are you doing?” “Well Ma’am, we can’t seem to get the door closed on the big truck so we are going to back up the little truck until they make contact and then throw the latch down.” While distracted by our conversation I heard what can only be described as a hideous melding of metal, steel, china and furniture. I suspect it may be similar to what the sad souls heard that night on the ill fated Titanic as the iceberg made contact with the ship’s hull.
Again, what’s done is done. The trucks pulled away and I prepared for what would be one of our 7 cross country trips.
On that particular trip, we planned a stop in Truckee, California to visit the location of the Donner Party at Donner Memorial State Park located in the beautiful yet unforgiving Sierra Nevada. Between 1846 and 1847 a group of pioneers set off on a journey from Illinois to California and unwittingly became players in a tragic tale of American Pioneer history.
The plaque on the rear of the Pioneer Statue reads:
NEAR THIS SPOT STOOD THE BREEN CABIN OF THE PARTY OF EMIGRANTS WHO STARTED FOR CALIFORNIA FROM SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, IN APRIL 1846, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF CAPTAIN GEORGE DONNER. DELAYS OCCURRED AND WHEN THE PARTY REACHED THIS LOCALITY, ON OCTOBER 29, THE TRUCKEE PASS EMIGRANT ROAD WAS CONCEALED BY SNOW. THE HEIGHT OF THE SHAFT OF THE MONUMENT INDICATES THE DEPTH OF THE SNOW, WHICH WAS TWENTY-TWO FEET. AFTER FUTILE EFFORTS TO CROSS THE SUMMIT THE PARTY WAS COMPELLED TO ENCAMP FOR THE WINTER. THE GRAVES CABIN WAS SITUATED ABOUT THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILE TO THE EASTWARD, THE MURPHY CABIN ABOUT TWO HUNDRED YARDS SOUTHWEST OF THE MONUMENT, AND THE DONNER TENTS WERE AT THE HEAD OF ALDER CREEK. NINETY PEOPLE WERE IN THE PARTY AND FORTY-TWO PERISHED, MOST OF THEM FROM STARVATION AND EXPOSURE.
IN COMMEMORATION OF THE PIONEERS WHO CROSSED THE PLAINS TO SETTLE IN CALIFORNIA. MONUMENT ERECTED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE NATIVE SONS AND THE NATIVE DAUGHTERS OF THE GOLDEN WEST. MONUMENT DEDICATED JUNE 6, 1918.
While the site is both moving and emotionally charged, as a military wife I was touched by the story of Mrs. Donner a military spouse in her own right being married to Captain Donner. She started her journey in Illinois with a full wagon of china, fine clothing a piano and many other household items she felt dear to her. By the time they became stranded, all that was left were the clothes on their backs and their very lives. Patty Reed, one of the young daughters of the Reed family, in an act of youthful defiance, hid a very tiny porcelain doll in the folds of her dress and hand carried it all the way to California. It is on display at Sutter’s Fort in California.
I had a true moment of clarity that day. The stuff doesn’t matter. A wise man once said, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Family matters. Your Sailor, Soldier, Airman and Marine coming home matters.
As we throw ourselves into yet another PCS season, stay calm, do your best to prepare and remember that you really don’t need all that stuff.
But with that, let’s end on a high note! Tell me your moves over years ( I have 16 moves in 28 years – 16/28) and let’s see who wins the title of worst moving experience!