Returning to West Virginia
for Mountain Therapy
by Kim Butler, from the October 2007 edition of Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine
Life-changing decisions often happen out of necessity, rather than good judgment, which explains a lot of the twists and turns that brought me back to the hills of West Virginia.
The idea of returning to Calhoun after twenty-some years away had been brewing for a while, more so for my husband, Richard, than me. He's the real "country bumpkin" of the two of us. He's always loved the outdoors and has the skills necessary to make a good life in a rural setting. He's also got a lot of relatives scattered around the county, so coming back would be a natural transition for him.
He's also paid his dues in life - worked all the time, got some education, helped me through college, ran a business, and was always available to anyone who needed it. He never had much time for himself so he had more than earned "coming home."
For me, watching sickness suck the life out of my father made me stop and think about where I wanted to be down the road. And, more importantly, what I wanted my kids to experience under my guidance. They had already spent their short lives watching me be in a constant state of stress and discontentment trying to manage all of our various projects. I hadn't been able to spend real quality time with them.
My Dad took every opportunity to remind me that we needed to "get back to the country." Looking back, I think a lot of that represented his own desires, but he knew that was not an option for him anymore. His life revolved around dialysis and medicine, and he was fortunate to be near both in North Carolina. Not something you could duplicate in Grantsville.
He still wished that lifestyle for me, though, wanting me to take advantage of it while I was able. He was concerned about my health and lifestyle choices.
But it never made sense to me, given my own medical needs, that I should remove myself from a progressive environment and opt for a situation where I had to drive miles just to see a specialist. Despite my real concerns about leaving, Dad had planted the seed. And, on quiet lonely nights when I sensed he wasn't going to be around much longer, I would think more and more about what he said.
I started getting attached to the thought of "leaving progress behind" and re-creating our life in a simpler setting. And, I knew in my heart, I had to be in a better place if I was going to be able to get through losing him. Dad was always my cheerleader - and advisor - and my voice of reason. He had a gentle way of reminding me that I wasn't always as smart as I thought I was. He made me feel like anything was possible, and, he believed in my ability to do it. He saw the good in everything, always believing your cup was always half-full, never half-empty. Everybody needs someone like that, and I knew I was losing mine.
For the first time in my life, I was facing something I couldn't fix, take control of, or figure out how to change. It was a sobering reality to realize that you can't plan for tomorrow, no matter how many years you spend trying.
I couldn't bear to leave while Dad was in distress, but I was coming to terms with knowing that I would probably be moving sooner than I ever expected.
Ready or Not
Before I knew it, Dad had passed away and my own health was in jeopardy. Richard said it was time to go. So, a life-changing decision to move was made out of necessity - ready or not.
I left everything I had known for the last twenty-two years and took a gamble on this so-called "mountain therapy" idea. I knew it would either cure me or kill me, but we had taken risks our whole lives and made it through most of them for the better. We were hoping this one would pan out the same way. Or, at least that we could stick with it long enough to calm down, feel better and get our sense of humor back.
Now that we've been here a while, I think the worst is over. I can't say that I'm cured, but I haven't expired either. I do think the mountain air has worked in my favor and I'm anxious to share some of the more humorous experiences with you. In these parts, a little laughter will do us all some good!
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