There’s A Spring That Waits To Be

A post commemorating the life of my Dad, Randel Anderson.

 

Though my journey began in 2017, I think I can trace its origin all the way back to the summer of 1968. Let me see if I can explain….

Look closely at my Dad’s expression in the above image.

That’s the face a parent makes when they realized that they have aided and abetted their 17 year-old son in becoming a motorcyclist. It’s an expression containing equal parts excitement, remorse, surprise and bewilderment.

The look on my face is an expression more like an evil genius whose plan has worked out perfectly. Even in hindsight, I must say it was a dastardly good plan:

My Dad’s experience in inter-state motorcycle adventure was confined to one trip in 1968. He rode a 1967 Honda CB160 from Nebraska to Washington State. There, he worked for a ministry that focused on helping the families of migrant workers.

Dad with my Uncle Arden:

His ride west was full of adventures and misadventures. He left home without enough money to complete the journey, as he was planning to work along the way. Like in my story, he had lots of people show him compassion and assist him along his way. The prospect of riding all the way home was less enticing than spending more time with my Mom (can you blame him?), so he sold the bike and flew home at the end of the summer.

Though this trip represented a very brief portion of Dad’s life, I was always fascinated by his stories.  From my youth, the idea of two-wheeled adventure was planted within me.

When I turned the legal age to ride a motorcycle in Nebraska (17), I didn’t have the money to purchase one myself. What to do…..? I figured the best way to have access to one would be to rekindle the rebel spirit still lying dormant in the depths of my Dad’s soul. I was able to find a 1966 CB160, in semi-running condition, for sale just a couple of hours away. When I showed him pictures of it, I knew he was sold. For just $335, can you blame him?

My first ride:

In some ways, this was where the “Everywhere Man” story began. With a Father who could not only tolerate his son’s level of excitement, but who could match it. Without that aspect of his personality, I doubt this journey would even exist.

 

On January 22nd, my Dad passed away.

This post is for him.

 

I started writing this tribute over two months ago, but have been utterly stumped. Even though I’ve cranked out over 300,000 words describing my journey, no words have seemed appropriate to sum up what has happened. How can I even begin to describe what he meant to me? Could any multitude of words be sufficient for this task?

 

What Happened

On October 17th, I rolled back into my home garage, officially completing the Latin America portion of my trip. Initially I thought that I would just stop at home for a couple of weeks before heading west for the final chapter of my journey. However, I really couldn’t get going. For some reason everything just felt more difficult for me.

I’d known that Dad’s health hadn’t been great, but I didn’t think too much of it initially. He had lived with cancer for the previous 16 years, so his health was in a constant state of flux.

Dad, with his old liver, post-transplant in 2003:

He was in and out of the hospital through the months of October and November. Throughout this time, I was still trying to decide whether I was going to get back on the road, or whether I would stay home until spring.

His condition deteriorated and eventually the doctors said that there was nothing more to be done but to make him comfortable. On November 30th we brought him home for hospice care. More than anything, he seemed to want to be in a familiar place with people he loved.

At this point I decided to delay my journey until spring and move back in with my parents. I felt very fortunate that I had the freedom to do this. My trip had effectively cleared my schedule for the foreseeable future.

Though the doctors had said that he might not make it until the end of the week, Dad ended up living for almost two more months. They were months full of countless precious and emotional moments.

With Grandson, Oliver:

With my Sister and Grandson to be:

With Son, Jerardo, showing his two year sobriety chip:

 

On the evening of January 22nd, Dad passed peacefully from this life to the next with Mom by his side.

 

The title of this post is taken from a line in the song I sang at his funeral, Hymn of Promise. “In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be. Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

This song was an accurate way to sum up my feelings at the time and is still relevant to how I am feeling at the moment. There are still lingering questions about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what happened. Many things remain “unrevealed until its season.”

 

Be Joyful

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but perceptive readers of this quality publication may have noticed that I have a custom license plate for Annie:

This stands for “Be Joyful” which is the opening directive of my Dad’s favorite verse: “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These elements were the foundation upon which my Dad built his life. My siblings and I split this verse into four parts for our tributes at his funeral.

Before my trip even began, I anticipated that “Be Joyful” would be an imperative moniker to keep at the forefront of my mind. I knew unpredictable obstacles would be part of my path and wanted to approach them with the same mindset as my Dad. I would try to emulate his attitude, whether I was dazed and bleeding in a Mexican ditch, frightened and alone with a bear in Idaho, or even frustrated and impatient at a Central American border line. How would Dad handle this?

“Be Joyful” means that while we cannot control what happens to us, we are the masters of our attitudes towards our hardships. Time and again I would see him rise above trials that would have crumbled a lesser person.

In the midst of chaos, his faith would be stirred, not shaken.

 

So who was he?

For those of you who new my Dad, I shouldn’t need to say too much. Maybe I’ll just confirm that he was the same person in private that you saw in public. There was no duplicity to him. We thank you for your inundation of support and as we’ve gone through this difficult time. The response from all of you has demonstrated that we weren’t the only ones who thought he was so special.

Around 360 sympathy cards:

For those of you who never had a chance to meet him, you truly missed out. Even his obituary (LINK HERE) is a real page turner. In it, my Mom saw fit to include a subtle nod to my adventure:

But he was so much more than this collection of facts about his life and I know that there is no way I will be able to portray who he was with mere words. I’ll just try to highlight some of the things that meant the most to me.

Some guys believe that being sensitive and being strong are opposing ideals; that you can’t have one without sacrificing the other. Dad, however, manifested both of these traits in abundance. He had the most caring, loving heart but also a gritty determination to persevere through any obstacle.

Running at the Transplant Games in Sweden:

Dad’s perspective was a topic I covered in my funeral talk, especially as it related to other people. With every person he met, he seemed to have an idealized version of them in his head. He could always see the best in everyone. He would believe things about you that you wished you could believe about yourself. There was no hint of false flattery, he truly saw you differently.

His creativity was another aspect I really admired about him. He did artwork for a living at two different points in his life.

His Jesus portrait:

Additionally, he was very skilled in converting his thoughts into words. He used this extensively during his time as a pastor, but it was ever present in the way he communicated on a daily basis. He was an intent listener, never interrupting or trying to assert himself in a conversation. When he did speak, you could be certain that there would be weight to his words.

As generic as it sounds, Dad’s most prominent trait was love. Whether towards family, friends or complete strangers; his devotion to serving others was perpetual. His final words to me, “Love you, Son,” were the most fitting punctuation for our time together on Earth.

 

How am I doing?

Given the long delay since my last post, I feel like I should give a little update about my own well being. Since Dad went on hospice I haven’t been on Facebook, ADV Rider or even checked my international phone. I feel bad about disconnecting for so long, especially given how many people have cared for me and about me during my trip.

From an outside perspective it may appear that I am wracked with grief, unable to face the outside world. I don’t think this is necessarily the case. Rather, the last few months have felt like a season to focus inwards, on myself and my family, as I try to make sense of what has happened. Through this process, I think I’ve come to a fairly healthy place.

It’s been helpful for me to “step-back,” so to speak, and look at the full duration of my relationship with my Dad. When focusing on the recent happenings, it is easy to let feelings of despair or anger creep in. Conversely, focusing on the entirety of our time together has helped me realize just how fortunate I am. Though I would have loved to have more years with him, there’s nothing tragic about our story.

Some have a strained or distant relationship with their father.  Mine was fully invested in me throughout every chapter of my life.

Some have to beg and plead for quality time with their father. Mine would come to me, asking if I wanted to play catch and plan excursions for us to be together.

Some have to wait years for words of respect and approval from their father. Mine could scarcely shut up about it.

So if you’re looking for a sad story, this is not it. Though I miss him dearly, the grief cannot obscure the joy of having him in my life. I am truly blessed.

 

So what comes next?

Everywhere still calls my name. This monumental, unnecessary, task, which once seemed impossible to complete, is now within my reach. Soon, Annie, Sonic and I will be rolling on to complete the final 28 places remaining in our song. Even from the outset, Dad was confident in my ability to complete it.

In my mind’s eye, I’ve seen myself at the finish line of this race. Dad was always there, taking the honor of striking “Nebraska” off of my sign. I’m saddened to know that will not happen, but I know he will be with me in spirit over each mile that remains.

Many of you have encouraged me in the telling of this story. Lots of people seem to be enjoying this account which makes me feel very honored. That said, I am thoroughly convinced that nobody enjoys my story as much as Dad did.

There were a few times that I was present for his reading of one of my posts. Each picture would elicit a “Would you look at that…” The video clips of me riding would make him say “wowza.” Any of my feeble attempts at puns or humorous quips would make him laugh deeply, as if it were coming straight out of the bottom of his soul. At the end of the post he would let out a long exhale, as if he’d just eaten the tastiest dessert of his life.

So why am I saying this? As I’ve written this account, my rule for whether or not to include a joke has been: Will Dad find it funny? Granted, this is a pretty low standard to clear. Going forward, I want you all to know that I will continue to write like Dad is still one of my readers. So don’t expect the jokes to improve.

Furthermore, my commitment to “Be Joyful” through the rest of my journey is even more resolute than when I began. I will continue to travel with the childlike sense of wonder which my Dad always maintained. His camera was perpetually at the ready, since he always believed that there would be something wonderful just around the corner.

One of Dad’s favorite songs was “For the Beauty of the Earth.” This video features his artwork and is a good representation of how he saw the world. That there is beauty everywhere.

At some points during this winter, it seemed like it would never end. Now I can say with confidence that there is a spring that waits to be. I will roll on, with Dad in my heart, and complete this final chapter in the best way that I can. Who knows, fifty years from now this story might inspire someone else’s crazy trip.

Keep trying to be like Randel, everybody.

BA

If you missed Dad’s funeral, HERE IS THE LINK to the service.

 

Realtime update: Phew. I don’t even know where to begin. So much has happened since my last update. I’m an uncle for the fifth time, I now make my living working on overhead doors, Annie has visited the gymnasium of my elementary school and Mom is thinking about joining me for part of my final chapter. Suffice to say, there are a lot more stories to tell. I left off the narrative of my journey while I was still in Colombia, so I will be trying to finish that up too.

Also, I have lots of messages to respond to and people with whom to reconnect. Meeting so many wonderful people has been a highlight of my trip and I’m eager to hear about what everyone has been up to.

As always, thanks for reading. This was the toughest post I will ever have to write, so I’m glad it is finally completed. More to come!

 

 

Author: BA

I get really frightened when someone reads the 'About Me' of my profile.....AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

38 thoughts on “There’s A Spring That Waits To Be”

  1. Condolences to you and your family. It was one of those amazing travel memories when we met you and your incredible parents on the train to Machu Picchu (I was one of the Spanish teachers traveling with students). You have an amazing, adventurous and inspirational family!

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  2. You and your family have been in my thought! I feel as if I have met your Dad and your Mom! They raise a fine young man, that will accomplish every dream he has, your father will guide you. We are hoping for spring but the snow is half way up our dogberry tree that we had our picture taken by when you were in Wabush! Go forth and cherish your memories! Xoxo

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    1. Thank you, my Labrador Family. I do hope you get to meet my Mom in person sometime. I know you guys would really hit it off. I am definitely spoiled with my quality of parents, as well as my adopted parents like you. 🙂

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  3. What a great tribute to your kind and loving dad ! God Bless You, Brett ! Looking forward to your future posts.
    Carole Anderson Rickers

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  4. Oooh Brett, te envío un abrazo de Buffalo, sin duda alguna, tu padre fue un ser maravilloso. Ahora disfruta de la presencia de Dios y estoy segura que seguirá siendo tu fan número 1.
    Te quiero mucho Brett.
    Gaby 😚❤

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  5. Wonderfully worded my friend. Your Dad has touched the lives of so many people in the right way and now he is enjoying his reward. I look forward to seeing you on the road soon.

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  6. Hope to meet you when you roll through Catalina. A wonderful tribute to your father, he was justified to be very pleased with his devoted son.

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  7. I’m glad you’re back, Brett! What a wonderful tribute to your dad. You describe so well the Randel I know, and the photos of your dad on his Honda are a treat. Your words would make him exhale in joy. I love that your mom tucked that “everywhere” into your dad’s obituary. Continue the journey, that’s what we’re here to do. And thanks for sharing it with us!

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    1. Thank you Carol! I feel like I’ve missed your kind words as I’ve been on hiatus. Thank you for being such an encouragement throughout my whole journey. You always know just what I need to hear. 🙂

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  8. Wonderful words, Brett, that give insight into your heart and soul. Thank you. We’re all proud of you, and we all miss your Dad. I think of him all the time. He left a huge hole in our lives but he also gave so much to fill with! And BTW, I’ve never seen that picture of me on that motorcycle with him before. He was in my life a long time. Praying for all of you. Uncle Arden

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    1. Those photos were the only ones we could find of him on the bike. They were from my Mom’s photos. She wasn’t familiar with that one of you two out on the farm either. It’s definitely a special one.

      You’re analysis is right on. I think we all have part to play in helping him to live on. I’ll keep trying to do my part!

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  9. Thank you for keeping us all in the loop. We so enjoy your stories. Happy that you and your Dad had such a wonderful relationship. The kind of person you are tells us so much about you and your family. Thinking of you Susie & Ron

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    1. Yep. Having a great relationship makes our parting more difficult at the outset, but we have so many wonderful memories together that will continue to flood back in.

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  10. Brett, sorry to hear about your dad. What a grand relationship you two had, keeping your spirit up and being joyful will give you much comfort. ❤️ Wishing you all the best!

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    1. Thank you so much! I’m committed to rolling joyfully along as my journey reaches its final chapter. I appreciate the kind words.

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  11. This is beautiful, Brett! Your writing is eloquent just like your dad’s. You did a great job of sharing who he was although to fully do that is an impossible task. The pictures make me smile. We have so much reason for joy even though we miss Dad so much. Your presence with us through hospice and now as we adjust to life without Dad has lightened my load immensely. What a blessing you are! Thank you, son, and I love you! Mom

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    1. You are such an incredible example of how to handle hardship. As you’ve said, I know that joy will continue to rise to the top. Love you so much.

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  12. Brett, My deepest sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your dad. He sounds like a wonderful man, and this was a beautiful tribute to him. He will be with you every step of the rest of your journey, as well as your life’s journey…

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    1. He was better than my words could tell. 🙂 Thank you so much for the kind words. It means a lot to me that you are still following along after our brief meeting so many months ago.

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  13. This is one of the most moving posts I’ve ever read. Our hearts are with you and your family as you find a new normal while not giving up what has been.

    is a long link to Annie Taylor’s recent obit in the NYTimes. I wanted to make sure you had seen it. Loved reading it through the experience of knowing you and “your” Annie. Blessings to you as you make plans for the last left of your epic ride. Makes me want to move so we would be in your path again as you move out.

    Susan and Jim Little

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    1. Soo….see you in Utah or something? 🙂 Thanks for all of your support to me, both directly and from afar. You two are such special people. I did see that article on Annie. It’s always nice to see her get more of the respect that she deserves. Blessings to you guys!

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  14. Condolences to you and your beautiful family, Brett. Prayers for safe travels while finishing the final stops on your epic journey, and blessings that you can always be joyful. Such amazing and inspiring words to live by and poignant reminder to carry with us. Thank you for sharing.

    -Cale, Arizona

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  15. Beautifully written tribute to your dad, Brett! I feel like I know him through your words. What a special dad and you are a reflection of him! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I lost my wonderful parents, husband, and brother at young ages so I know how difficult it is for the family left behind! You will all miss his physical presence, but his spirit will be in your hearts and he will continue to guide you until you meet again in heaven! What a blessed assurance we have as Christians!

    I live in California, but met you at White Manna Hamburgers in NJ while visiting my daughter. You made an impression on me like your dad made an impression on others too and I have enjoyed following your journey!

    God bless you as you continue to travel the roads with Annie! ✝️🙏🏻❤️

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    1. Wow. Great to hear from you. I definitely remember our meeting out in Hackensack. You guys were so friendly to me. It’s great to hear your perspective as someone who has suffered a tremendous number of losses. I know there will still be difficult days, but faith and fond memories will sustain us. Thank you for these wonderfully written words.

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