My Talk With Midford
To start this story, Hiedi Stoate had noticed that Midford was due for a visit. With our newly growing social media presence she thought it would be a good opportunity for a picture with a valued customer and perhaps an interesting story for our readers and followers. She informed me he was 89 years old and a long-time customer; what we didn't know is that Midford is such an inspiration.
Hiedi had informed Midford I would be coming to ask him some questions. As I approached he set down his magazine, greeted me with a smile and a hand shake. A firm grip, excellent eye contact and the sharpness of a man much younger. I found it hard to believe his age. I had no idea what I would say to begin, I had never interviewed someone before, but Midford clearly had his own plans and did not skip a beat, "I guess I should tell you about myself," he calmly and clearly stated. My questions and plans went right out the window!
Midford went on, he explained that in 1986 he and his wife, Joy, had bought a Glendale Royal from a friend who, due to some unfortunate circumstances, could not keep. One of the first considerations was where to service this new motorhome. Living out of Parry Sound and having recently retired the choice was simple, The Hitch House.
Midford had recently retired after a career in heavy construction. Interestingly, it was after about 2 years serving the Canadian Military in WW2 that Midford received a degree in Civil Engineering, although the war finished within months of his expected departure to join the front. A long career in construction followed and at age 60 Midford had plans to retire and head north. At this point in time his company "gave him money to go away," or as it is known more commonly, to retire. Midford did not expect this and considered himself one of "the luckiest people in the world." I could not argue, he had already planned to leave at 60 but this just sweetened the deal.
Midford and Joy enjoyed square dancing and Midford also found himself to be a skilled "Horseshoe Pitcher, among other things," he explained with a smile and chuckle. Upon purchasing their first motorhome they did not know that their lives would change and be affected by these passions. Over the almost 20 years of owning their first motorhome it had seen about 200,000 Kilometers and was ready to go when The Hitch House's Technical Service Advisor, Paul Lewis and "my [Midford's] pal," finally was able to convince Midford to downsize and upgrade to a 2005 Pleasure-Way Van.
But those 200,000 Kilometers have their own story. In the first year with the motorhome Midford and Joy enjoyed a few small trips. The next year they truly embraced their purchase. The pair had always liked to travel so they decided to take a few months and head down south for the winter. In this time they enjoyed square dancing, scenery, horseshoes and took time to visit some friends. In California Midford helped a friend build a barn for 3 weeks.
After, a square dancing friend was waiting in Florida for a visit in a newly developing area. After staying on a lot and touring the area for a few days Midford woke up and suggested buying a lot then and there. Joy, certainly cracking a smile, admitted that she had been wondering how she was going to ask him the very same question. For the next three years they brought their motorhome there each winter. Eventually Midford put his construction experience to work and built a 1 bedroom house for himself and Joy to use in the winter.
It seems that by this point, Midford and Joy were doing pretty well for a pair who "didn't know what they had gotten into," when they had first bought a motorhome. Summers in Parry sound were followed by winters in Florida enjoying the sun.
In 2005 Midford and Joy took to the roads with a Pleasure-Way. For 5 more years the pair traveled dancing, meeting new people and enjoying their time together. In 2010 Joy passed and Midford faced some very tough times and decisions. The next summer Midford decided to do what he knew Joy would want him to continue to do. He planned another trip in his van, much to his son, Reg, and daughter, Maureen's surprise and concern. But they knew there was no stopping their father so they compromised.
The middle ground? A tracking device that allowed Reg and Maureen to "dance their fingers across their computer and see where he was, was heading and his speed." It was at that moment I received the look that confirmed that he did not have much say in the compromise, a smile mixed with a frown, the same look a young child has when they did something wrong but just know they want to do it again. Perhaps he received some trouble with the speeding part. Midford chuckled and continued his story.
It was on his 2 month endeavour to the Yukon that Midford gained a "new outlook on things." Traveling in Joy's memory, Midford seems to have found peace. He is proud to be a husband, father, grandpa and great grandfather. This is a man who is clearly doing things right in his life and taking everything in stride. He plans to continue traveling as long as he is able.
What's the next trip? I asked. To my surprise it is already planned and he is very much looking forward to it. In August, Midford is planning to visit the Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Championship in New Brunswick. When I asked for the name again he proudly repeated it, smiled and humbly said, "I won't win, but it's fun." From there, his trip will take him around Newfoundland. His daughter Maureen is the mind behind this trip, Midford explained that she has been telling him to go before he misses the chance and from what I can tell, missing chances like that is not something that Midford would consider.
The story is truly an amazing one for motorhome enthusiasts and travelers of every type. But just when it seemed that all of my questions had been covered and I began to think that I had failed as a journalist before even beginning, I turned my page and saw the one question not yet answered the one I now wanted to know the answer. I knew I would never forget the answer, I was not disappointed.
If you could tell other travelers and motorhomes one thing what would it be? The answer will stick with me for a very long time.
"I enjoy going nowhere on no fixed schedule," Midford began. "The most important thing is, don't be in a hurry, enjoy your experience. When you travel you see lots of multi-lane roads and highways, they all look the same. Get on the back roads, take your time, and meet new people, that's the important part." It seemed so obvious but I could not have said it better.
He continued, in his calm and pleasant way, "RV people are mostly good people, at the camp ground all you have to do is open your hood and there will be 5 people there to help."
I truly believe that Midford has found himself in a life truly worth living. Midford is a proud husband, parent, grandfather, great grandfather, square dancer, engineer, horseshoe pitcher and in his words "so much more." I could not agree more!
I now believe that it is important to maintain a view of the world similar to that of Midford. It is something powerful to say at 89 years old and I will not soon forget hearing him say, "I have never disliked any job that I had, and had a very interesting life. I'm a lucky one."