Well, I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong,
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song ...
— The Grateful Dead, 'Scarlet Begonias', 1974

Unexpected Changes

On the evening of February 19th, 1985 we got a call from the Philadelphia Police saying that my Mother's parents, Martin & Catherine Rowley, had been in a car accident and had been taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Later that same week my motorcycle got run over by a tractor-trailer at one of New Jersey's more infamous traffic circles. I was unhurt, but my ride to work was gone. When I finally arrived at work (delivered by the cop who'd picked me up while standing in the traffic circle next to my crushed bike) I found out that I was getting laid off that day.

The Caregiver

In one week my life had changed on multiple fronts. Since I was now without one of my jobs, I took over the role of primary hospital visitor for my Grandparents. I went each day to one or both hospitals, spending time with them and spending my travel money on transportation and meals. This arrangement went on for three months, during which time I left all the jobs except hospital visitation.

Martin passed away in mid-April. He was followed by Katie in June, just as my friends were arriving home for Summer break.

It had been a lot of work caring for my Grandparents and I didn't regret doing it. The trouble was that I didn't know what I was going to do with myself at this point. I had built my whole year around saving for a trip out west on my motorcycle, but my motorcycle was gone, along with the money I'd saved to travel.

My plan was broken and I wasn't sure what to do next.