“Nothin’ But Love”… A Never-Ending True Love Story

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My husband and I dream of owning a camper, someday driving across the USA. Recently, I met a special glamper and “Sisters on the Fly” member who did just that with her husband. Now, she’s traveling alone, on a special mission, carrying on her husband’s legacy of love.

We mentioned Alison Miller in the Aug/Sept issue of MaryJanesFarm in our “Camp Like a Girl” article. (If you don’t have a subscription to MaryJanesFarm, subscribe here.) I first noticed Alison in a Facebook group, “Glampers on the Loose.” There, I’d dream, admiring glampers, but it was a post by Alison, the spunky, beautiful blonde driving a pink tab trailer and matching car, that moved me to tears. Ever watch a movie or read a book like Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, and wonder if life is ever really that romantic?  A few moments with Alison and her love story, and you know it is.

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Born in Ft. Hood, Texas, Alison’s family moved around, settling in New Jersey, where she graduated from high school. Alison first met “Handsome Husband” Chuck Dearing as a recently-divorced, single mom with three small children and living with her mother. Chuck, a neighbor, knocked on the door looking for a parttime babysitter for his young daughter. Alison remembers answering the door in her “ugly, government-issue glasses” and butterflies in her stomach.

Photo courtesy of Alison Miller

Photo courtesy of Alison Miller

A friendship grew between Alison and Chuck, but her mom could see the sparks between the two. Always thoughtful, Chuck once got friends at work at McGuire Air Force Base to pitch in for groceries for Alison and her children, putting the rest of the money into a signed card. Love grew, and they married, raising their brood of four together.

Their 24-year marriage was a fairy tale; they were very much in love. Photos show them staring into each others’ eyes, laughing, kissing, dancing. Whenever they’d dance, Chuck always dipped his sweetheart at the end, making Alison weak in the knees. Instead of automatically answering “I love you, too,” they validated each others’ adoration with “I feel loved.”  Alison and Chuck truly cherished one another. Chuck was incredibly romantic, and they loved romantic movies. Their favorite was “PS, I Love You”.

Photo courtesy Alison Miller

Photo courtesy Alison Miller

Chuck also loved traveling. After he retired from the Air Force, the couple decided to sell everything and travel. (They traveled, not camped. Alison insists she’s not a “camper.”) Chuck was the planner, the route-mapper and adventurer; his wife happily went wherever he wanted, always feeling safe and protected by her husband’s side.

Photo courtesy Alison Miller

Photo courtesy Alison Miller

While visiting their daughter in Oregon in 2010, Alison had a friend in New Jersey who was losing her battle with cancer. Chuck bought his wife a ticket to see her friend. Dropping Alison at the airport, he noticed a BB-sized lump under his wrist, which grew bigger in three weeks. Back in New Jersey to join Alison, he visited their doctor. Chuck had an aggressive form of cancer.

Treated with five surgeries and massive radiation, he seemed okay with his odds, which looked good. In between doctor appointments, they traveled.  While in Florida, Chuck made the decision for no more CAT scans.

It was blue skies under a sunroof, dancing under stars, and Willie Nelson on the radio. They traveled together four years until in Arizona, when Chuck started to feel sick with bad back pain. Alison thought they should stop traveling. Chuck felt it might be kidney stones or old injuries, but he eventually landed in the hospital. As friends called to say goodbye, Alison answered the phone, “Nothin’ but love here.”

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They’d danced their last dance under the stars in Death Valley. Her love passed at age 60, with Alison and their children at his side.

Chuck and Alison kept a journal together...leaving each other love notes.

Chuck and Alison kept a journal together…leaving each other treasured love notes.

Before Chuck passed, Alison asked him to call her phone. He ended his message, “PS, I love you.”

Her son Nick, a firefighter in my town of Newtown, CT, texted Alison a song he thought she should sing at the funeral: “I’ll Love You to the End.” He didn’t know then it was the song from the movie “PS, I Love You.” At the service, Nick played guitar and Alison sang with a confidence she didn’t know she had.

Alison had told Chuck she’d continue traveling, painting her car pink so he could find her. He’d replied, “I’ll be looking for you.”  He requested she return to four places they’d visited to scatter his cremains: Crater Lake, Oregon; Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys; Chief Crazy Horse Carving, South Dakota; and Little Big Horn, Montana.

Alison had had a career in hospice and bereavement, and was a 9/11 volunteer. She knows grief is isolating. With no home base, she didn’t want the loneliness of hotels without her husband, so she bought her glamper, a tab teardrop with a retro design. The pink paint was custom-made especially for her by a painter wanting to give her courage. It’s named “Chuck’s-Watchin’-Over-Me-Pink.”

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Alison's daughter free-hand painted the inside door.

Alison’s daughter freehand painted the inside door.

One of the "Sisters on the Fly" made the pennant.

One of the “Sisters on the Fly” made the pennant.

The cabinets over her bed are adorned with photos of her beloved.

The cabinets over her bed are adorned with photos of her beloved.

In true farmgirl fashion, Alison has glamped up the inside of her camper. The walls are done up in fabric with fancy duct tape.

In true farmgirl fashion, Alison glamped-up the inside. The walls are done up in fabric with fancy duct tape.

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Alison has been trhough so much. The "FWG" stands for "F***ing Warrior Goddess".

Alison has been through so much, but she’s brave and strong, stronger than she even realizes. The “FWG” stands for “F***ing Warrior Goddess”.

My daughter and I really connected with Alison. She calls me a "Fierce Warrior Goddess" and Audrey "Future Warrior Goddess".

My daughter and I really connected with Alison. She dubbed me a “Fierce Warrior Goddess” and Audrey “Future Warrior Goddess”.

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If she hadn’t traveled with Chuck for four years, Alison wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing now. On a mission to honor his legacy, Alison’s been on the road over two years so far. Each of their kids have joined her for a time on her “Odyssey of Love.” She doesn’t use a map, and remembers Chuck saying, “Whenever you’re lost and you think to go one direction, take the other.” The pink, a color of strength and joy, draws people. Once, a complete stranger approached, saying, “Chuck wants you to know he’d never leave you without a road map.” She’s met people everywhere, and feels the entire country is cheering her on. If you’re lucky enough to meet Alison on her journey, you’ll feel the love. It radiates from within her. With all the craziness going on in the world, Alison’s message is truly “nothin’ but love.”  I believe there are angels among us … and I think Alison is one of them.

*Alison is collecting wedding photos and love stories after finding some old wedding photos in an antique store. If you’d like to share yours with her, send them to: odysseyinpink@gmail.com.

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment 51 Comments

  1. Kathleen DeBernardi says:

    Great keep up the good work

  2. Barb P says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post! I certainly felt ‘nothin’ but love’ reading this. Thank you, Nicole (and Alison) for sharing this.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. This was a special one to write, for sure. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Susana says:

    I know exactly how you feel…ALL you hAve is the memories. Rest in Peace sweetheart….

  4. BOBBIE SEGAL says:

    i love it..what a beautiful article, alison…you inspire me, as you always have.
    love always bobbie

  5. Cindy says:

    What a heartwarming story! They will be reunited in heaven! God bless her! Best wishes,Cindy

  6. Joyce Champion says:

    This is beyond beautiful…..Thank you for sharing! Bless you!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joyce, I am so glad you enjoyed this post. I cried buckets writing it! I am blessed that Alison shared her story with me. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Sharon Gass says:

    Blessings sweet lady on your journey of Love.

  8. I just wanted you to know I really enjoyed reading your love story and how you have decided to continue traveling as you honor Chuck’s memory. I, too, and a recent widow – my husband will have been gone now for a year next month in September. I am older than you, 72, and now riddled with inoperable cancer so made the hard decision to sell our trailer and be content to travel other ways. Just got back from a dream vacation in Mexico, which I did from a wheelchair! Best trip I ever had. I am an artist and this trip served to show me I still have some artwork in me! I send heartfelt wishes for your happiness and the joy you spread wherever you go. I pray the Lord is in your life as well because He opens up so many more doors and possibilities. Hugs from Sister #820 Paige Bridges

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Paige, I am certain this comment will touch Alison’s heart deeply. My heart and prayers go out to you. I am so glad you enjoyed your dream vacation. You sound like a spunky, inspiring lady, as well. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. I’ve been following Allison for a long time, loving every minute of it but thanks to you Nicole, I feel like I know her better now. Wonderful post.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi MaryJane, Thank you! I am so glad you liked this post. Thanks to your wonderful “Glamping” facebook page, I saw my first glimpse of Alison. I hope you two can meet in person someday; you both are amazing, inspiring, beautiful-inside-and-out, strong women! Much love to you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Teresa williams says:

    Love her story, keep on doing what makes you happy!

  11. Helen Boyd says:

    Enjoy. Your brave young and beautiful
    I’ll be watching you on Facebook from my couch
    I’m 80 or I would be on a journey with you
    You’ve got my prayers and love
    Helen

  12. Adrienne says:

    Alison is a remarkable woman and I hope you can fulfill your dream. For five years, I traveled in an 18′ motorhome named Wendy (because Wendy went everywhere with Peter Pan and I was Peter Pan) and for two years in a 27′ motorhome named Lucy (because even though she was a pain at times, everyone loves Lucy). There is nothing like traveling where you want to do what you like and then coming “home” to enjoy your life. I also hope Alison has many happy years on the road.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Adrienne! Love the names you called your motor homes! When I met my husband (and we were both very young), one thing we share in common is that we hope to travel in a camper – now we are hoping that will be sooner than later! I love the descriptions of your travels. Right now, I haven’t got a glamper yet, but I do tote around town in my car, named Ruby. She’s the same color as Dorothy’s slippers. 😉 Thanks for sharing. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Joan says:

    Thanks for the feelings of LOVE in a tough situation. This is a true story of LOVE and we for sure need all the LOVE we can find. I so hope that Alison does find her way to my neck of the woods because it is beautiful here and because it would be so wonderful to meet her. Best wishes Alison!! and thank you Nicole for your LOVE. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, It was such a funny coincidence that I ran into Alison, like it was meant to be. She is such a beautiful lady, inside and out. I hope you do get to meet her, Joan, as she is such a blessing to be in the presence of. Thanks for commenting, sweet farmsister! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Beverly Battaglia says:

    This story made me cry. Allison is so pretty and I love her pictures and her “glamper” with the car in pink! Very sweet story of true love. I have my own with Richard.
    Audrey looked so mature in her picture that I did not recognize her at first. I thought “what a pretty girl” and it was my granddaughter!
    Love,

    Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mom, Yes, Alison’s story made both Audrey and I cry. She’s an amazing woman, and an inspiration. I feel blessed to have spent time with her.
      Also, I think our Audrey has grown a whole foot this summer. 😉 Love you, Nicole

  15. Bobbie Shaw says:

    Thank you for your truly heartfelt, inspiring story. She faces her pain and loss with faith and courage. A lesson for us all to learn. Lessings her way, and safe travels always!
    Sincerely, Bobbie Shaw
    P.S. I travel lightly with my 1967 Shasta Astroflyte :)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bobbie, Thanks for reading and commenting. You know what else I think about Alison? It’s lovely for young people and newly married couples to see that, yes, true love, “death to us part” is real and does exist. What a beautiful life they had together. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    • alison says:

      Bobbie,
      One of the things that is so fascinating to me when I see my story written by someone other than I, is the perceptions by those who read it.

      It’s ironic, really…I don’t see any of what I do as being courageous, though, yes, I’m busting out of every comfort zone I ever thought about having. I guess I see all of this as “well, what else was I going to do?”

      I do know that Chuck knew that I was/am a strong woman, and he knew I’d do something with this experience. And it helps me to hear other’s perceptions at a time when I don’t really trust my own, so thank you for your words.

      Happy trails yourself, with your traveling lightly Shasta Astroflyte~
      alison

  16. denise says:

    Oh my goodness, how special is that?!?! thank you for sharing that and thank her for doing that amazing journey she is on! what a story!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, Thank you…I am so glad you enjoyed this post. It was really special to write. I am so inspired by Alison. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    • alison says:

      Denise,
      I apprectiate that you took the time to read the story of my Odyssey. Nicole did a great job with interviewing me (and I loved that her daughter was with her), and a great job writing about it.

      If this is all I can do to honor my husband’s legacy, and the love he left behind for me, then I will do it for the rest of my days. He was worth this, and more. And he set me out on this Odyssey with intention, which I’ve come to realize more and more as time goes by~
      alison

  17. Hi Nicole,

    This was such a special post to read. I bet it was even more special to write.

    You know what my favorite part was? The journal they kept together. That is absolutely amazing. Every married couple should do that.

    I’m so glad you had the opportunity to meet Alison… and to introduce her to us!

    Hugs,

    – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori! Our time with Alison was so special. I am so glad to have met her. My husband got to meet her, too, as we had her over for dinner after I interviewed her for the blog. She is now a dear friend, and Audrey really connected to her, too.

      I LOVED the journal, too. Isn’t that a great idea? What a fabulous wedding gift to give…a nice blank journal! I love the look on Alison’s face as she was reading it.

      Farmgirl Hugs,
      Nicole

  18. sharon says:

    dammit, you made me cry at work….very moving I will be looking for that pink teardrop on my travels.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oops… sorry. When I was interviewing Alison, I glanced over at my daughter who I thought was on her electronic device. Nope, she was bawling, too. Alison and her story is just so moving. I feel blessed to know her. She inspired me to recently take a road trip with my daughter. (I usually won’t drive far without my hubby). It was great fun! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    • alison says:

      Sharon,
      How do you travel? In a trailer? I’d never even thought about trailers until I got my own, and now I’m fascinated with all the kifferent kinds that I see out on the road and at SOTF campouts.

      I hope we get a chance to meet out on the road~
      alison

  19. Rowena Philbeck says:

    What an awesome story!! Love her car and trailer. You go girl!!! Hope our paths cross sometime. Take Care and a beautiful love story!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rowena! Keep a look out – she’s so easy to spot! Happy Travels! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    • alison says:

      Rowena,
      Thank you for your words. It was such a treat to meet Nicole and be interviewed by her; it gives me an opportunity to touch base with so many more people along the way.

      I was blessed every step of the way, sharing my life with my husband, and I’m blessed now, with my huge support community~
      alison

  20. Susan says:

    What a beautiful, loving story. Loved every word and was sorry when it was to the end. I think there is some ‘nomad’ in me also….currently keeping my eye out for an small, older trailer that I can ‘doll’ up. How can I follow Allison to read about her adventures? Thank you for the great post.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Susan. Follow Alison on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HappilyHomeless2 or on her webpage here: http://www.loveismycolor.com/

      My husband and I are always keeping an eye out for a vintage trailer I can doll up, too. Seems they are not found that much up here. When we were in Florida, I saw a whole bunch. Someday!!! Good luck on your search. (Oh, and my ultimate dream to go with a trailer? A vintage pick up! I’ve wanted one since I was 15)! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  21. Linda says:

    Nicole, what a beautifully written story. It proves, without a doubt, that even though a loved one is gone, love never ends.
    Alison, on your way to Moscow, Id to visit Mary Jane, please stop by Fairfield, WA. It’s beautiful here and I have lots of farm girlfriends that would love to share stories with you!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Linda! This was so special a story to write…I so wanted Alison to be happy with how I told her story. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  22. Christine Mustion says:

    Love your story,happy trails sister and if ever in the Ozarks your welcome to my little nest on the river.

  23. Dena says:

    All I can muster is “WOW”. What a touching story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Makes me feel hopeful and thankful all at the same time :-) .

    Blessings to you and Audrey today sweet farm sisters,

    Dena

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dena, Thank you…I am so glad you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Alison is really a special soul. Big hugs to you, Nicole

  24. Vivian Monroe says:

    Wow, Nicole, thanks for sharing this post. My husband and I also travel together in the same fashion. I feel a kindred spirit here with Allison. My heart is heavy with mixed emotions, saddened for her loss, but excited to see she is so brave to carry on. I pray that if anything should happen to myself or my sweetie that the other would carry on as well in the same fashion as Allison. She really does give courage to those who have lost their bestfriends in their spouse to keep on keeping on, and know that they are watching them, and traveling with them in spirit. Thanks Allison for giving those hope, and thanks Nicole for sharing Allison’s beautiful story. Be BLessed. Neta

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Vivian. I was so honored to be able to share Alison’s story. She is such an amazing person with such light beaming from her. Audrey and I were fortunate to spend some more time with her this weekend before she embarks on another journey. We also were thrilled to meet her wonderful son and beautiful daughter in law. They are a remarkable family. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know my new friend Alison. Be safe in your travels, as well, Vivian! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  25. Denise Ross says:

    Wow, Nicole, this is so beautiful to read. Alison is certainly courageous. I love her living legacy. Very inspiring. And how wonderful for you and Audrey to meet her.
    Greetings from Australia :)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, Thank you! I think Alison is definitely one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. Funny thing, we were messaging through Facebook, trying to see if we could meet when she wrote “Do you know where Newtown is?” I was across the street from where her son lives at the time! I could just about walk to where she is staying from my house…no more than 3 minutes by car. Funny how things work sometimes.Big Farmgirl Hugs, Farmsister! (BTW, Audrey dreams of visiting Australia someday)! ~Nicole

  26. Carol Noble says:

    Hello Nicole I am an old friend of Alison from NJ having met initially when she joined our church. I have been reading her blog for the past 2 plus years and have seen her twice in the same timeframe. I knew Chuck and he was indeed that wonderful charming man she describes. But the reason I write is to tell you that you drew the perfect picture and description of her story and the incredible person she is. I attended the incredible memorial service Alison planned and executed for Chuch in at outdoor woodsy park. I am positive none will ever impact me the way that one did. It was unique and so full of wonderful love stories and testimonials. I applaud you for your story as it was so right-on and beautifully written

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Wow, Carol, thank you so very much. This was a very special blog to write – I felt so fortunate that Alison would share her story with me. Thank you so much for this comment. I think anyone who gets the chance to meet Alison is so very lucky, she’s such an amazing person with such light radiating from her. I wish I would have gotten the chance to meet Chuck, but I’ve also been blessed to meet Alison’s wonderful son and beautiful daughter-in-law. What an outstanding family. Thanks again for writing me. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  27. Alice says:

    Oh what an amazing story! Thank you for sharing Alison’s story (love her decorating too). Also, best wishes to Paige Bridges (Aug 5 comment).

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ali! Alison is a sweetie…you would have loved her. Maybe our Farmgirl Chapter can all get to meet her next time she is in town. We stay in touch. Hoping to see all my Farmgirl sisters soon! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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