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Something Joyful in Front of Me


“Aging ain’t for sissies.” – Bette Davis

You got that right, sister! We’ve all gone through the changes that come with the passages of life.  Some seem to sail through life effortlessly with their shiny selves accomplishing anything they put their minds to. Others seem to have difficulty at every turn, they never can catch a break. Then there’s the majority of us. We plug along. We might get married. We might have babies. We might have careers, change careers, and eventually retire. Some may worry if they can ever retire. Our kids grow and leave. Our partners leave….either by choice or by chance.

We are sure a mixed bag, aren’t we? I know, in my case, I walked in the front door of my first marriage, hung my identity on a hook by the door and put on the magical cloak of wifedom and motherhood. By the time my kids were grown and gone, I had had three marriages…the last and most perfect of which ended when my beloved dropped dead on the floor of a travel trailer as we prepared for retirement. By the time I took that cloak of self-identity off the hook to try it on for size, it was moth-eaten, ill-fitting, and totally outdated. I had to search for a new identity. I had to find out where I fit in the world. Enter….Sisters on the Fly.

I knew instinctively I needed to put something joyful in front of me in order to survive the death of my husband. Since we were looking for a trailer anyway, I decided to just go ahead and buy one. Never mind that I had camped a total of three times in my 60 trips around the sun. The idea of pulling a trailer really didn’t intimidate me. I had driven a 17’ U-Haul pulling a car hauler behind it, cross country, by myself.

I pulled into what I thought was a driveway that circled a hotel, only to find out I was stuck in a parking lot with no room to turn around. I sat there for several minutes and quickly surmised I had two choices. I could either buy real estate or back out of there. Since I couldn’t afford to buy a hotel, backing out was my only option. The fact that I didn’t take out any cars or pedestrians in the process was a real boost for me! I figured if I could do that, I could pull a little camper.

I bought a small sixteen-foot travel trailer and hit the road for three months. I was searching for healing, searching for my identity, searching for peace. I had a pretty good idea who I was as part of a dynamic duo. But I had no idea how to BE on my own. What did I want to do “when I grew up”? What did I like? What did I believe in?

My first encounter with the Sisters was at the Altona Grange in Longmont, CO. We were spending the weekend, holding tours of our trailers, and generally having a wonderful time. This was only two months after my husband had died. These wonderful women were so patient and loving and supportive. And, they loved me without making me feel like a victim. Somehow they normalized my loss because I wasn’t the only one there walking this path. They embraced me as their own. They did what I was hoping for…they put joy in front of me and helped me start this grief journey in a healthy and positive way. They made me believe I could do anything. They taught me how to hook up and unhook my trailer, how to back into a tight spot, how to enjoy life again. I will be forever grateful and connected to those first Sisters who welcomed me into the fold.


Ginny McKinney, Sister #3537

Follow Ginny, Author, Blogger, and Speaker at Marshmallow Ranch 

Stay tuned to this spot as we explore the transitions that we encounter in this march through life. I’ll be featuring some amazing women as we discover the myriad ways we Sisters adjust to the changes thrust upon us. I hope you’ll grab a cup of coffee and sit a spell by the fire with me. 


Showing 12 comments

    1. Yay!!! Welcome to Sisters on the Fly! Explore the website and look up the Wrangler for your area. Send her an introductory e-mail and she will answer all your questions. Also, join Meet-Up online. When you search through the groups, find all the Sisters on the Fly groups and join. That’s where you will learn where and when gathering are and you can sign up for them. And now…enjoy!

  1. My mother became a widow at the young age of 55 while standing in Camping World with my dad. One minute they were having a shopping spree and the next minute he was gone. Like you, she carried on on her own, first in a tent trailer and then in her beloved 24 ft motor home she named Ellie D (it was an El Dorado). She drove across the United States numerous times and caravanned into Baja; we adult kids never knew where she’d venture off to next.

    I follow in her footsteps as Sister 3751. I embrace those i have met and can’t wait to meet those I haven’t yet. Almost 40 years later as my mother ventures into these final days of her earthly journey, I can’t help but think what an amazing adventure she’s had. I know she had more fun than anyone and will be cheering me on every step of the way.

      1. It’s good to read all these comments and realize that eventually it all calms down and life is good again. I’ve joined SOTF recently and hope I will be able to come to some of the events from time to time. I had planned on joining some time ago, just took me longer than expected. My heart is still full of all the sadness of the past couple of years and sometimes I just bawl myself silly…haven’t gotten past that stage yet. I’ve lost so many: my husband in 2014, mom and baby sister in 2015 and this year another sister. I think often of moving closer to cousins, that’s just about all the family I have left. I’m hoping and planning on finding myself a nice little trailer so I can move on and get back out into the world again. I look forward to meeting you all one of these days!

  2. Ginny, what a journey! Your words ring so true. Most of us will outlive our spouses and all we will have left is the life we have created for ourselves. Thank you for your wonderful post of hope and healing.

  3. I just bought a membership for my Mom (Anna #7182) as a gift because she was with my Dad for 70 years and I know she feels lost after losing him recently. She is still spry and active and I know a good dose of “Sister Love” is what she needs. Loved reading this entry and want to know “the rest of the story”…

  4. I’m too, am a new member. I just retired for the fourth (4th) time, this one feels like the BIG one too, as passed the big 80 mark. Bucket list here I come. Bought a little guy trailer, T@B model and want to get started. ?

  5. I just recently joined SOTF also. My husband died in July and I am floundering. We camped a lot the 29 years we were together so it won’t be hard for me to do. I just haven’t done it alone before. Our son is helping me find a travel trailer that I can pull with my current vehicle if possible. I may wait until next spring to camp so I don’t have to deal with snow here in Colorado. Not sure about anything riht now.

    I wanted you to know Ginny that you are inspiring me to get past this pain so I can feel alive again. I am using your quote of “putting joy in front of me” as my mantra right now. Thank you for that as it resonates with me.

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