Loading chute in Nevada

Your place is with your husband

Those were Grandma’s words:

Your place is with your husband.

The problem was that my husband was close to a thousand miles away from me and widening the gap.

He had wanted to haul me along but I had stubbornly chosen to stay behind.

On our return from the winter trip to the desert, we had eaten more grilled cheese sandwiches and wild pig, and then, before I knew it, another trip was in the works. My Man’s work as a wildland firefighter was seasonal and back then he had a lot of time off in the winter. His boss, his boss’s wife, and a few others had decided to drive down to Baja in an old motor home.

We had just had a big fight, some ridiculousness about a vacuum, and my way of recovering from it was to go “home” to visit my grandparents.

Kate Hiller "Cleave? Or how about we hit the road in opposite directions?"

Never mind that I wanted to head north while my husband and friends were headed South

Part of the issue was that I am not very spontaneous while My Man is VERY spontaneous—you will see this come up in many of our stories to follow.

A common scenario includes me winding down after a busy day while My Man is just starting to pick up speed—and then:

Let’s all go camping—tonight.

I do my best to cancel plans and go along, but once in awhile I “shut down” with my lack of spontaneity. Thankfully he’s usually good about taking the kids at that point so I can have an “introvert recharge day”.

Cactus in the Baja desert

Baja or bust…Grandma’s or bust

I don’t believe I even considered going on that first Baja trip; I was in complete “shut down.” I did my usual “you don’t love me” while he was packing for his trip.

My Man and I had been together nearly 24/7 since our wedding. Maybe we needed a little space? But to go in two different directions over a thousand driving miles apart was extreme—especially right after an argument. I’m not sure being together 100% of the time is healthy, but neither is my leaving to go “home” that early in the game.

It shows that I had not “cleaved” or “adhered” my heart to My Man above my attachment to my family.

Following my man trekking in Nepal

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto this wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 KJV

I remember vividly in those early days thinking of family, friends, or almost anyone before my husband.  Remember “that other guy” in Elko?

Or what about Uncle So and So–shouldn’t we go visit him?  My grandparents must miss me.

The truth is: I bet my grandma was wondering why I had decided to go visit them out-of-the-blue. She didn’t say very much—except

A wife belongs by her husband’s side—not gallivanting all over the country.

I heard of one wise mother who would not even call her daughter the entire first year of her marriage. The mother did not want to interfere with the “leaving and cleaving” process. That may sound severe, but I believe that mother understood the importance of the Biblical mandate.

There is a beautiful mystery at work in the “leaving and cleaving”—something powerful. A “power couple” evolves in the adhering and the clinging. That couple is mighty in the Lord’s plan. A hard marriage—and if we are honest, they all are at times—and the persevering in the hard times can be the best thing that happens to a person.

We are refined in the process, into something magnificent—like my grandmother

Grandma fixing fence in the desert

My grandma is my hero. You probably got that if you read my book.

My grandma’s “staying power” is quite remarkable if you know her story. She was essentially abandoned by both of her parents—first with her father walking out the door and never coming back when she was eleven. Despite her parents giving up on family, my grandma was the backbone of ours.

Grandpa at cow camp

She stood by her man (the tall, long legged cowboy in chaps) while:

  1. He served in the Navy and fought in WWII
  2. He expanded as a large scale cattle rancher
  3. He served as President of what is now called the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  She followed him all over the world and country while he met with dignitaries including at least two of our Presidents
  4. He struggled with Parkinson’s disease in his final years

She stood by him and managed to:

  1. Raise four kids
  2. Operate a plant nursery and maintain a beautiful yard of her own
  3. Raise a hundred pullets a year
  4. Read the Wall Street Journal everyday and complete her daily crossword puzzle
  5. Play the organ at her church
  6. She was an avid supporter of the Pacific Crest Trail, content to enjoy it without walking it herself
  7. Etc, etc.

Dirt bike trip in Nevada

I’m not sure who loved the desert first—Grandma or Grandpa? Me or My Man?

Grandma loves the desert. She lives in Nevada now, probably fulfilling a lifelong dream to be a woman-of-the-desert. She still keeps a bird feeder outside of her window—a lover of God’s creation.

Grandma and her birdfeederA supportive woman can be the driving force behind her fulfilled, successful husband. A husband and wife who endure together also grow together.

My grandfather was successful in many areas—a man with a vision: His picture hangs in the Cow Palace as a past California Livestock Man of the Year. I remember watching on television as he, the tall, handsome cowboy, presented a 25 lb hamburger patty to the tiny “Where’s the Beef Lady”, Clara Peller.

There’s the beef

My grandfather’s biggest success was being known far and wide as a kindhearted man with integrity.

Behind all of his notoriety was my grandma. Somehow she managed to be by his side and also there for us. I always knew my grandma would be there. She had the staying power even when her parents hadn’t.

She was the “Keeper of her Home”; she still is the keeper of her family

It was a rare event, and worrisome, to find her house empty!

I try not to have regrets, but going “home” at that point was foolishness. I felt so strange to be on that extended visit while My Man was in the opposite direction—I even got my one and only speeding ticket on that trip! The only thing worthwhile on that trip was my Grandma’s subtle admonishment.

The Baja travelers returned safely with so many fun stories. I have laughed at those stories so often that it was almost like I was there. 

But, I wasn’t

We have been to Baja countless times since, with wonderful stories of our own, but I truly missed the boat, or motor home, on that first one.  

I love My Man

There has been no greater earthly blessing than the miles we have traveled together and endured together. In my next story you will get to meet the new adventurer in our adventures.

Kate's fire

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