In Loving Memory
In Loving Memory
I’m sitting in my garage with the door open, listening to the neighborhood children play. It’s a cloudy, gloomily Friday evening but the birds are chirping and the longer days give more hope to getting more done. I can’t really find a way to start or even write this entry, but I’ll do my best. My name is Tom Begley, and I write this on behalf my sister Virginia Massey as well. It is with our deepest regret that we have the opportunity to address such a wonderful audience our dad has acquired over the years.
Yesterday (Thursday) morning, my sister called me at 9 a.m. Telling me dad hadn’t returned a call from the day prior. I immediately eased her mind with the idea that he may be getting a new phone now that he was in town again. Plus his last blog mentioned how horrific the services are at his site, especially considering we were getting the rain he was concerned about. Ginny seemed instantly calmed, my job was done. I mentioned that he was coming over to possibly go to the train museum, weather permitting, but it was not. So, I said no matter what… dad will want to see my son by the time Jiujitsu starts at 5.
It’s not often enough that I talk to Ginny, I was happy to put her mind at ease. I told her, “Dad has lived in the worst conditions and now he’s hooked up to electric with a toilet 50 yards away, and hospitals in every direction. He’ll be fine.” We hung up. And now that Ginny was good, I came to realize how hard I pitched the idea that he was ok. Given his medical history and the tone in her voice, it didn’t sit right with me.
After a few errands on my day off with the family I was pleasantly entertained by an adorable 6 year old with a barrage of questions and the squeaky giggles of baby Charolette. By 12:30 I was asking my wife why he hadn’t gotten back to us. It’s not like him, and there were no more distractions. Now, I’m unsettled. Time to go.
I recalled the camp site from his last blog and started heading west. The phone said 30 minutes. The whole time I’m thinking thoughts I typically don’t. Dad is such a positive, easy going man and thankfully a little bit of those good traits had rubbed off on me, but not in this moment. I’ve got a part of me that is recalling dads heart issues. The other part of me is thinking that he’s visiting with a friend, and like every other time I’m about to see him, I am too impatient. I’m too excited and just worried for no reason.
Before I know it, I have arrived. Pretending not to be anxious, I was looking desperately for his truck. Really, not knowing if it was a good thing or not if I saw it. I was too distracted to be critical of the predicted flooded RV spots and gigantic pot holes. But the trees were practically nonexistent, I could see almost straight through…. and not a red vehicle in site, not one. just as I pulled towards the office… there it was!On the right, just like the picture but RVs on either side now. His bike still locked up and everything cleaned and undisturbed.
I quickly got out of the truck and pretended not to run over and lightly started knocking on the door. Other campers were everywhere, but the misty rain was keeping everyone in. I started knocking louder, on each window. But no response and everything was all locked up. I called my wife and ran to the office to get the ‘wellness’ check involving the police she recommended. They arrived a half hour or so after. It was getting real. We’re about to break the lock to the camper my dad loves. And he better not be in there! I’m about to give the go ahead and he better pull up sitting shotgun with a buddy yelling at me as to why I would call someone to bust his lock. This would be a trick considering I don’t recall him ever yelling at me in the 38 years I’ve know him. A couple stern talkings and a well deserved spanking or two, but my concerns for those died off when I was to big to be bent over his lap at age 6.
Before we break in, I step away to pee…. again. And on the way back I see the air fan hatch on top ever his bed. My walk turns into a full run straight to the truck, up the hood, top of the cab and right onto the roof. The hatch is open just a little. So, I lean down and can see something. It’s been almost 2 hours pacing around his truck. ripped that hatch off with no hesitation and punched out the desert dusted screen to see what I could. The officer asked if I got in, if I could see anything. Just then, poked my head in, my eyes adjusted to the lack of light and I could see. I could see him.
Dad was laying rested in the bed with the most peaceful, content appearance. Head on the pillow, blankets pulled up. But I knew how hard I was knocking and pushing on the truck. Reality finally set in. Our dad had passed. I screamed dad a few times while I thrust my arm in to grab his. He wasn’t waking up, our fears were true. The feeling was surreal. As I sat up with tears instantly pouring down my cheeks, I told the officer. Sitting on the roof, not sure what to do or think or say or how to act, my heart was crushed. Crushed just as I’m sure yours is now too.
I was overcome with fear and emotions I wasn’t prepared to feel. When I saw him, I also saw the keys hanging and was able to quickly retrieve them with a coat hanger the officer already had. I jumped down in a panic and let myself in to be with him. To make sure, even though I already knew. There was nothing to do but sit with him and cry. And as I was, I couldn’t help but really take in how peaceful he looked. This was on my list of personal ‘top nightmares’ to go though, and dad looks like he’s more comfortable then I’ve ever seen him. Accompanied by all this sadness, there was this weird relief. Not for me or anyone of us left to morn his loss, but for him. As much as we know how much he would have wanted to spend all summer holding all 3 of his adorable grandchildren, how every moment with him is always cherished, this really was the way he wanted to go. We all know he didn’t want to end up in a hospital, not for a second. He’d say it wasn’t worth the money, but it goes beyond that.
The dust didn’t really settle, it certainly hasn’t yet. But once that calm had passed over me and I could begin to try and enjoy my last moments alone with him, my fears turned into telling my sister who was so worried, along with the rest of my family. I reluctantly stepped out to call her, not wanting to hear the imminent pain in her voice.
Even though I was the person to have found him, it felt unexpectedly good to be able to sit with him for a couple hours with him before getting picked up. Knowing that he wanted to be immediately cremated and that my sister would only want to see him alive, I was happy to have that opportunity to sit with him and talk to him and tell him how much everyone who ever met him will be missing him. It may sound twisted, but I was just concerned about his grandchildren, friends and everyone that hadn’t met him yet, not so much myself. My dad was an interesting person to say the least. Adventurous, honest, loving, committed, faithful, diligent, quick witted and funny, the list goes on and on. If you met him, you most certainly know already. I wanted everyone to meet him, to enjoy the person he was. We all loved seeing him on his adventures, or what he would just call daily living. And we loved sharing him with the world and wish it could have continued forever. He was a man you couldn’t resist but want to be around.
Virginia and I are now left with the responsibility of informing all of his friends and family of their loss as well. There is no good way to let so many people know who care so much about him. We have all lost someone very special which whom cannot be replaced. But since this can’t be undone, instead of just letting the tears pool up, we will do what we can to make the best of such a great loss with happy memories, stories and pictures we hope to hear and share with other people that loved him too. Dad didn’t want people to morn his death, he never even really cared if his birthday was celebrated in any fashion, in fact we would sometimes remind him. But we will be having a service, not for him, but for everyone that cared about him who can make it. He would cringe at the thought of someone going out of their way for him, and we certainly would not want to burden anyone either. Simply having him your thoughts and prayers all this time has meant so much already.
Services will be held this Thursday, June 28th 4-8pm at Willow Funeral Home. In the following weeks, I will drive to his trailer left behind and hope to follow in his footsteps to some degree. Updates of that happening may be thrown out there in the near future. We truly wish we could have told each and every person that cares about him face to face followed by a big, uncomfortably long hug. Given the blogs he wrote, I couldn’t help but want to tell more of the story the way it happened. I will never have his writing capacities, but I now see the therapy in having a journal or just putting it out there.
There are so many stories and fond memories yet to be told about him. There are so many more pictures to be shared. Unfortunately, dads funny, beautifully told, HIGHLY detailed articles have come to an end. It wasn’t just entertaining stories, or checking in for those who cared for him… it was inspiring to say the least.
There was so much more he never told you. He never mentioned how great and loving of a father he was for so many years. He was the most supportive, dedicated caring man we’ve ever met. We will miss you dearly.
Willow Funeral Home
1415 W Algonquin Rd
Algonquin, IL 60102
I knew your dad, and he was a wonderful, kind, amazing, man who was my best friend out here on the road. I will miss him so much.
How well said Tom, I cry as I write this. Not so much his passing, but the fact that I won’t be able to talk to him or be with him in person again. A better friend or person there never has has been. So smart, funny and talented, my life is so much better for him being in it. Im so sorry for our loss, but truly know he is smiling at how his life on earth ended. His legacy is a great one, as evidenced by you and Ginny. He loved both of you so much, he spoke often of his pride for each of you. I miss him deeply already.
RIP my friend. We never met but we had much in common. A peaceful ending to this world is a gift deserved. Godspeed and see you soon.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I never knew your dad but given what you wrote here I’m sure the loss is great. My heart goes out to you.
Oh, I’m so very sorry.
Just a reader thst immensely enjoyed his posts. I looked forward to whatever he wrote. I feel like I lost a friend.
You have lost even more.
Hugs to all of you, with tears.
I am very sorry for your and our loss. I agree that it was a good ending for him, rather than more hospitalizations and/or surgeries. I’m glad he made it back home.
I am in AZ. If there is anything I can do to help with issues down here let me know.
I’ve followed your Dad for the past couple of years and have enjoyed his adventures and interesting way of describing them. I’m very sorry for your loss! As you said, he went as he would have wanted. He was in the middle of another adventure. Thank you Tom for informing us, sad as it is, of his passing.
I cannot tell you how sad I am for your loss, there just are no words.
Thank you for letting us know.
I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. I’ve followed his adventures for the last few years and feel like I’ve lost a good friend. I’ll miss him! I’ll say a prayer for him and for all of you as well. Tale care!
You were gifted a very good man for a father and I’m truly sorry for your great loss.
I never met your father but for a long time have been following his blog. I seriously didn’t and don’t pretend to have understood all he posted, the inter workings of things, but I keep reading because he was so passionate about his traveling world, and I wanted to know more, about all he was willing to share.
I love his pictures and I will continue to reference back to his blog for information he so graciously gifted to all his followers.
I first text him that I wanted more than anything (almost) to travel like him, but my husband was a workoholic, he was kind and understanding, I appreciated his advice, he said to talk to my husband and let him know how I felt, and at some point start traveling short trips. We did start traveling but he panicked without a permanent home base. We purchased a home fixed it up this last year , now he’s ready to go, said it’s time to travel. So my hope is now he sees life is short, we all should be able to do what we have wished for for years. I’m very happy.
I wish you and your family fond memories of a lovely man and his great travels, and know that he was a happy traveler as I wish to be one day.
This is so sad to hear…I never met your Dad, however we communicated often. The first time was when I emailed him asking for directions for a campsite he had mentioned in a blog. I ended up getting lost,and had to contact him several times. Since then we exchanged emails regularly, usually I initiated them asking for advise .I was always very impressed with the indepth replies I would receive, showing that he had given my situation a lot of thought. He actually suggested a name for my truck camper, which is the name we gave it. I had made it one of my goals to meet him one day. I feel your loss, and the sadness of this moment is only softened somewhat by the knowledge that, as you said, he went the way he would have wanted to. and that to the very end he was enjoying the ‘Strolls’ he was taking.
My sincere condolences….to you and your sister and all the family and close friends. If I, never having met him can feel this grief….I can only imagine what his loved ones are going through.
Good Bye Doug my friend,
Peace & Love
Ps. Please keep this blog ‘up’ as I know I and many others would love to be able to go back reread some of his entries, which I know will bring a smile to my face
Thank you for letting us know, and especially for your description of his peaceful ending. Doug’s humorous and loving nature came through so clearly in his writings. Every week for the past several years I have looked forward to his reflections and insights.
You are very fortunate to have him as a father, and it’s clear from your communication with us that you share many of his values and talents. Thanks again for keeping us informed, and very best wishes to your family.
Your dad loved both of you so much. He talked about both of you, all the time. Talked about you? He would brag about both of you. I cannot even imagine the heartache that you’re going through right now, but my prayers are with you. I have no good words to take away the pain. Even though we know this is the way he would choose to go, and I am so grateful that the good Lord granted, Doug, his final wish. It’s those who are left behind, who cannot imagine this life without him in it, that will find life so difficult to bear. Tom your post was written so well. Your dad would be proud of you. He always was proud of you and Gin. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know this amazing man. He has been a blessing in my life, in more ways than I could ever tell you.
Rachel, I did not read the comments until after I had sent you the email. Yes, we will all miss him so much.
Condolences to your family, very sorry to hear this news. I’ve followed your father’s blog for many years. I was amazing with all those solar panels, LOL!! He provided a wealth of information and was very helpful to others. Big hug to your family and will keep you in my prayers. I do hope you update the blog when you can and to follow along.
Doug and I have known each other since about 2013… and mentioned each other a number of times in our own blogs. https://swankiewheels.blogspot.com/2013/11/becoming-best-i-can-be.html
I am so sorry for your loss, for our loss.
I am so sorry. I followed your dad’s blog and truly liked him. He was so engaged with life and enjoyed every day he had. I am so glad that, while much, much too soon, his passing was peaceful and that he was able to go on his own terms.
Tom, it means so much to all of Doug’s blog friends that you have been able to write this goodby for him. I never met him, but loved his wry humor and always looked forward to seeing what adventure he was up to now. It is a blessing he went easily and in peace. Blessings and sympathy to you and family. PamP
So sad to hear of your dad’s passing Tom. I worked with your father at White Cap back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He was a dear friend. We had so many great conversations while we were working in the CAD room while designing.
We always met for dinner when he worked his way up here each summer. I’m going to miss those get togethers!
I will be at the funeral home on Thursday to say my farewell to a great friend!
I am so sorry.
I only knew your dad online and I enjoyed his stories so much. I will miss his advice. He taught me a lot about living on the road.
Over they years I have grown very fond of Doug, he has been there for me so many times in so many ways…….he will be greatly missed.
Our last visit was just days before he headed back from Arizona. I had invited him to check out our new lot in Bouse and we talked about moving his trailer there permanently……I so looked forward to future visits.
Sorry for the loss.
He was my friend. I met him in 1999 at a men’s fellowship . He was calm and sensible. He was also VERY funny. I was a wild , hurting man with very little discernment regarding common sense or practical thinking. Doug put up with my ridiculous revelations and waiting for exactly the correct moment asked a serious question or gave a sensitive answer. He and David (Puffer) were the first mentors I ever had or heeded. I began making better decisions in my life. I changed for the better because of the encouragement of these two men. I will miss Doug BUT I know we will meet again. Our faith is one and the same and he lived his out to the earthly end. One more final direction from an excellent mentor and friend.
Your dad is missed.
True dat. He was admired by many, all who miss him. Some folk dream of living the life but never find the courage, as he did. Now i head on down the road knowing i share his courage and dream.
It gave my heart a jolt to see StrollingAmok in my email today. Then I saw the words, “Your dad is missed.” In some ways it’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year. In other ways? It seems like it’s been forever ago. I miss him so much.