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Wishing. And Hoping. And WAITING.

natchez trace, mississippi

I’ve spent lots of my life waiting for my dad. We could never leave church until he talked to everyone in the lobby. If he had to retrieve me from any event, I was always the forlorn child, the one whose parent forgot her.

Yesterday, I heaved up to mile marker 135 on the Natchez Trace. I’d passed him a mile back.

In the car.

Talking on the phone.

“Damn,” I muttered to myself. “If he’s distracted by the phone, he’s going to forget to pick me up.”

Now, let me digress for a minute. I’ve been at this 15-miles-a-day walking thing for double digit days. The last two miles are an excruciating slog to the finish. Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t get easier. Time stops when I can sense the finish line.

So.

I arrived at my mile post.

And, I waited.

And waited.

And stretched.

And waited.

And cursed.

And waited.

Finally, I stood on the side of the Natchez Trace Parkway and cried. It was like I was nine again. That forgotten schoolgirl. The last person my father ever wanted to talk with or pay attention to.

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Click here to see the best photos from Day Ten of my Natchez Trace walk: Andra Watkins Tumblr

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Who doesn’t want to visit Charleston, South Carolina? Tweet, Facebook, type and review your way to Charleston, South Carolina in the To Live Forever Journey to Charleston Contest. The more you enter, the better your chance to WIN. Click here to find out more: Support My Aching Feet.

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Finish the book before I’m done walking. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

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And please. One request, Dear Readers. I appreciate your reading my book. I want you to write honest reviews. It’s hard enough to do what I’m doing every day right now without coming back and seeing something that isn’t easy to process. I hope you understand. Share them with the hashtag #toliveforeverbook to qualify for the contest. Send them to mystories(at)andrawatkins(dot)com to gain an entry. Please, please don’t send them to me.

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Now, for today’s Reader Question:

80 Comments Post a comment
  1. I just want to wrap you up in a giant hug and make it better. I cannot imagine how hard this is day after day. And you are truly my s/hero for doing this; for having a vision that is so gigantic; for going for what you want and believing in yourself in such an amazing way. If I worked half as hard as you; believed with as much conviction; and loved as intensely as you, I’d perhaps be a better person; or at least more successful!

    I may not be there walking by your side, but I am thinking of you, praying for you and rooting for you. EVERY. STEP. OF. THE. WAY.

    March 11, 2014
    • tarakianwarrior #

      I absolutely second what Cheryl said – she said it so well that she could have been inside my heart and voiced what I’ve been feeling.

      March 11, 2014
    • Thanks to both of you. It was really great to read all the words of encouragement as I walked today. I’m glad I beat the rain. 🙂

      March 11, 2014
  2. Blinking fast….swallowing hard….sending a big hug.

    March 11, 2014
  3. You know that isn’t true. He loves you. You are not the last person he wants to pay attention to or talk to. Daughter’s are the sweet spot in every father’s heart.

    Now, how did that shell get on the roadside in Mississippi? (Tumblr picture.)

    March 11, 2014
    • I wondered that myself. That’s why I took a picture of it. Out of place.

      March 11, 2014
  4. Now I’m thinking we should join you toward the end of the walking day rather than the beginning, then you would be waiting for us instead of for a ride. Sending hugs.

    March 11, 2014
    • Ha. You and Tori can join me whenever you like. I’m just tickled to pieces that you’re coming.

      March 11, 2014
  5. I sympathize. My dad could talk up a storm with anyone about anything. I trust that the tears helped you feel better. Or at least as good as you could feel after once again making it through miles 14 & 15. Yeah YOU!!!

    March 11, 2014
  6. We all are with you and MTM as well.

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks, John.

      March 11, 2014
      • I will not be able to do my normal tweet tomorrow. I am in a medical building all day and have no signal. Still with you in spirit.

        March 11, 2014
  7. I’m reading the book, it’s a page-turner, and you are doing a brave, brilliant thing. Really. I don’t know you, but I wish you well.

    March 11, 2014
  8. hihohiho #

    Uh Oh! We knew that could happen, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Yikes! But have no doubt, that man loves you to the moon and back and then some. I KNOW IT! I just spent five days in the car with him :).

    March 11, 2014
    • He’s good at telling everyone but me. That’s always been the way of things, though.

      March 11, 2014
  9. Awww 😦 Your face, my heart broke for the look on your face 😦

    March 11, 2014
    • It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to watch MTM drive away.

      March 11, 2014
  10. No llores, mi amiga! I’m sure emotions are high and mixed in with exhaustion. Un abrazo grande!!! { }

    March 11, 2014
  11. The miles don’t care, the road doesn’t care…but I think I can safely say that a whole bunch of Dear Readers do. You are accomplishing an ambitious and difficult thing. There will be ‘those’ days. I will ask you in July what you thought of the whole thing, but not until then.

    March 11, 2014
  12. Oh Andra. I’ve never met you in person (although I hope to), but I cried just reading your words, and then I saw your face. Sometimes men need a good swift kick in the pants to take them out of themselves and to really see what’s going on around them. I have no doubt he loves you dearly, he just needs to be reminded to show it.

    March 11, 2014
    • He just gets carried away when he talks. I’m surprised it took this long to happen.

      March 11, 2014
  13. tarakianwarrior #

    Oh Andra, I cried while reading this, and then I cried even harder when I listened to you answer Cheryl’s question. I wish I could give you a big hug. You are important. Your words are important and I admire you…so very, very much.

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks, Lori. I know I’ll have tough moments, but the overall coolness of what I’m doing usually dispels the tough moments.

      March 11, 2014
  14. Oh, Andra, so sorry you had to wait! So sorry you cried.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    March 11, 2014
  15. Andra. Oh, Andra. Strong, beautiful Andra. I hope that you can see this, maybe on the road. I think there’s a blessing that goes something like “May the sun never shine in your eyes too brightly, and may the wind be always at your back, and may the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpits of your enemies forever…”
    (I may have made that last bit up…)
    Anyhow, I’m sharing this video with you — I hope you can at least hear the music if not see the images (which are also beautiful)

    March 11, 2014
    • Thank you, Helena. I love the fleas part you made up. Ha Ha.

      March 11, 2014
  16. The video question today made me want to cry. I wish I lived closer so I could walk a day with you. Great big hugs!

    March 11, 2014
    • I read the comments sometimes while I walk, and it’s almost like you’re here. 🙂

      March 11, 2014
  17. Even Bad Ass Warriors are allowed to break down sometimes.

    You are amazing. Keep going. You have got this Andra.

    March 11, 2014
  18. Big hugs for you. I’ve had a time or two (or more) in my life when I’ve been left on the side of the road and had to walk, not always in pleasant weather, or wait. My ex used to do that to me regularly, and then he did it to our daughter – regularly. You are such an inspiration to all of us readers. I expect that if you called most of us would come and get you off the side of the road. Problem is you’re so far away your Dad would still get there before we could, even with the phone.

    March 11, 2014
    • He’s got a big junket planned to visit a childhood friend tomorrow. I hope my mother-in-law can keep him on track and make him come back on time. I may be calling one of you otherwise. Ha. I’m just going to have to tell him fifty thousand times that I have a newspaper interview at 3pm, and I can’t be late.

      March 11, 2014
      • I bet if you asked the reporter to pick you up you’d surely be on time, and he’d get some “on site” photos. 🙂

        March 11, 2014
      • I have that plan in reserve. 🙂

        March 11, 2014
  19. “Just wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ Plannin’ and dreamin’ his kiss is the start” Dusty should’ve have a word with your Dad!!
    You are not waiting on the Dock of the Bay; it’s the middle of Mississippi dam it!!

    March 11, 2014
    • The dock of the bay would be a better place to wait. The side of the road gets kind of scary.

      March 11, 2014
  20. From one Southerner to another… bless your heart, honey.

    March 11, 2014
  21. I’m back because I’m singing this in my heart for you. I love it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8OpsPok6iQ It’s the Star Trek Enterprise theme song and it is an anthem for you!

    It’s been a long road

    Gettin from there to here
    It’s been a long time
    But my time is finally here

    And I will see my dreams come alive at night
    I will touch the sky
    And they’re not gonna hold me down no more
    No they’re not gonna change my mind

    (Chorus)
    ‘Cause I’ve got faith of the heart
    I’m going where my heart will take me
    I’ve got faith to believe
    I can do anything
    I’ve got strength of the soul
    No one’s going to bend nor break me
    I can reach any star
    I’ve got faith
    I’ve got faith
    Faith of the heart

    March 11, 2014
  22. Damn it Roy, pay attention!

    March 11, 2014
    • I like your new avatar. Did you draw this one?

      March 11, 2014
      • I made it some time ago but forgot to change the avatar.
        Then I wasnt sure to change it but it turned out ok.

        March 11, 2014
  23. I am sure that fatigue saps the reserves for any emotional ups and downs. You’re doing great. Double-digit days–very impressive. Sending a hug. ox

    March 11, 2014
    • Plus, I’m nearing the dreaded emotional time for us girls. Extra hugs are appreciated. Today was pretty easy.

      March 11, 2014
  24. Your dad sounds like my dad, which is why I started driving separately to church.
    I’m joining everyone else and sending you a cyber hug. You deserve it!!

    March 11, 2014
  25. Eeek. Well… I’ll have to say as pesky as this part of the walk was, I guess you could use a chuckle or two to go with those hugs from all above.

    March 11, 2014
  26. Redneck Garage #

    Bummer. Sounds like mile 14 and 15 turn into the world of Nowhere, and like Merry, you end up waiting where nothing makes sense. All of this is part of the story and will somehow make sense later on. There is always a lesson to be learned if we look around. I hope you don’t feel offended, but I don’t hug strangers. 😉 I have enjoyed both your book and adventure though.

    March 11, 2014
    • I’ve thought of my own metaphors numerous times already. Ha. The book might be better if I’d done this first.

      March 11, 2014
  27. Keep going Andra! You’re doing brilliantly and we’re all supporting you! Stay positive, it’ll end up being one of the best things you ever did and you’ll be so proud 🙂

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks, Mike. Mostly, I do pretty well. I just have my moments.

      March 11, 2014
  28. A hard as this is and will be sometimes, just remember those days back then, when you felt like no one understood your writing or thought much of it and you were going to chuck it all. Now, look what you have achieved! As hard as I know this is, it is nothing compared to what you went through to get here. Push on, warrior woman.

    March 11, 2014
    • I pushed on until I met the beaver today. These little seventies shelters are welcome respites sometimes.

      March 11, 2014
  29. This is where someone needs to stop by and offer a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. I’d be inclined to loan you a bit of my resolve, if I could do such things. Take heart, Andra, there are so many people there for you. The comments are very encouraging.

    March 11, 2014
    • What’s funny is I planned my lunches as peanut butter sandwiches with a banana. Not consciously. I don’t put them together. I eat the sandwich, and then I eat the banana.

      March 11, 2014
  30. Once again, a similarity between us.! My father used to do the same thing to me. I was always the kid left alone who had to go remind her dad I was still there and needed to be taken home.! Hugs from Chicago Andra.!! And solidarity 🙂

    March 11, 2014
    • Thanks, Rose. Sounds like lots of dads have this problem.

      March 11, 2014
  31. I hope today has taken a turn for the better Andra, I’m here supporting you in spirit and really wish I could walk some miles with you in person. Take care, Lisa

    March 11, 2014
    • I met someone from the Pacific Northwest yesterday. He rode his bike all the way from there. It was a great conversation. Sort of weird, on the side of the road, but great.

      March 11, 2014
  32. How long did it take dad to finally pick up his daughter? Did you give him a stern tongue lashing?

    Andra, you are a blue babe (that’s a play on Babe the blue ox). You are strong and courageous! We are all behind you here.

    March 11, 2014
    • I only waited about 10 minutes, but it was just long enough, in my exhausted state, to think maybe he wasn’t coming at all.

      March 11, 2014
  33. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    I was in Nashville yesterday (college tour – Belmont- with Andrew) and just happened to drop in Parnassus books and just happened to mention that I knew a soon-to-be famous author who would be speaking in their establishment when she finished her trek along the Natchez Trace. They were excited to have you coming there. It was cool to know someone famous. And, no, Anne Patchett was not there 😦 Hope Roy doesn’t leave you stranded again! xxoo

    March 11, 2014
  34. I am the youngest of four. I grew up knowing that feeling well.

    March 11, 2014
  35. Now, that’s the way to really experience the book; experiencing Em, abandoned by her father.
    Sometimes a good cry is what we need.

    March 11, 2014
  36. The end of your video brought tears to my eyes. But you’re doing a wonderful thing and you’ll have such a feeling of achievement when you complete it. Have a great day today! 🙂

    March 12, 2014
  37. Lance #

    I’m getting your book this weekend.

    March 12, 2014
  38. Hang in there, Andra!

    March 13, 2014
  39. Sometimes a good cry — even if the source is an annoying and oft self-centered parent (speaking as the daughter of a Ray doppelganger) — is exactly what you need to feel better. Hopefully it was a good release for you and Ray showed up soon enough to retrieve you.

    You had best have made him feel bad enough that he went out and bought you a drink or a piece of cake, or both, because those items can make anything better.

    March 13, 2014
  40. know that we are all with you in spirit even when you are abandoned by the side of the road. hugs )

    March 14, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Waiting for Godot . . . Scratch that! Waiting for Myself | Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words
  2. To Live Forever Tour Stop: Meriwether Lewis | The Accidental Cootchie Mama

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