Driven by Love: AF widow travels U.S. honoring husband

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
In her deep blue eyes, you not only see the sadness, you can feel the grief of her soul. The agony comes from losing her husband, retired Master Sgt. Chuck Dearing, to cancer last year. But in a flash, those blue eyes dance and what you see isn't that grief, it's love -- intense, raw love.

This same love is guiding Alison Miller on her trek across the United States to places she and Chuck visited when they were on the road. She is on a journey to spread his cremains, but also take in the beauty of what is happening -- what she calls magic.

"He wasn't a war hero, but he served with such dedication and honor, and by God if it is the last thing I do, everybody is going to know about him and know about our love story," Alison exclaimed.

Telling their story and some is exactly what she is doing as she travels in her pink SUV hauling a pink teardrop trailer with the decal "Happily Homeless" on both. Chuck's cremains and flag sit in the passenger seat next to her.

Why "happily homeless," you might ask? A little less than five years ago, Chuck and Alison sold all of their possessions and their house in New Jersey and decided to hit the road.

At first, the pair thought they would move to a different state, so the first three months consisted of a lot of driving because they felt they had to get somewhere, but then one day Chuck looked at Alison and said, "Why do we want to stop doing this? We are having the time of our lives."

So they decided to travel the open roads and stayed primarily in base lodgings. Although it sounds like something people only dream of doing, Chuck and Alison were living what they had always talked about.

"He was my home and I was his," Alison said as her voice cracked with emotion. "We didn't have anywhere else, and that was OK -- I reveled in that. He was everything to me in the most wonderful way."

People always wondered how the two could stand being together all the time, but Alison said they loved every moment of it.

"It was an ordinary marriage, but we were so deeply in love," she continued. "We had a passionate and romantic marriage. One friend used to comment, 'When Chuck walks into a room, your eyes just light up and when you guys say goodbye to each other it is like you are never going to see each other again.'"

"He would look at me across the room and just wink," she said with a schoolgirl giggle.
It's funny that Alison found Chuck because after her first marriage ended in divorce, she was certain she would never meet any man ever again, especially since she had three children.

But then she met him, and he would change all of her views on love. The two were married in 1990 and blended their families, his one daughter and her three children.

"It wasn't easy by any means, but we made it work," she added.

There were 'whopperdoodle' fights, but there was mainly love, said the high-strung Alison.

The strong bond played an important role in getting Chuck through cancer the first time.

In September 2010, they found out Chuck had cancer, but with aggressive treatment, he beat the cancer. He had five surgeries, but the couple would not let it stop their life.

They would have the car packed and ready to go after Chuck's post-operation appointments.

"We would wait to get to Kansas and open the moon roof, turn on Willie Nelson and blast 'On the Road Again.' We would see those wide open blue skies and say OK, it's behind us again."

The moon roof she shared with Chuck is the reason she was so adamant about having a moon roof in her new vehicle, which is painted a special customized color, Chuck's Watchin' Over Me pink to give Alison courage to go back on the road again. The reason for all the pink in her life is because Chuck told her not to mourn for him in black -- it wasn't her color. Instead, he told her to wear pink in his honor.

Before Chuck passed away, Alison told him she would continue to travel and would paint her vehicle pink so that he could find her on the open road.

In what she calls "Pink Magic," her SUV and trailer, she is a woman in love on a mission and she has had an outpouring of love from those she meets.

"There's something happening here," she said. "I use the words magical, but I don't know what it is. Chuck is connecting with me and putting signs in my path."

Alison speaks of those signs coming from every direction. One man, who she calls her highway to heaven angel, told her, "Chuck wants me to tell you he wouldn't leave you without a road map."

Chuck was a flight engineer and his nickname was Pathfinder.

"I know I need to look at finances and find a way to earn a living on the road so I can keep doing this," she said. "I swear to God I am not worried at all about it. There is something happening here, and I just need to be open to it and continue following my heart. I know there is an amazing something out there for me."

"Chuck is leading me because that is what he did in my life, he supported and loved me and encouraged me," she continued. "He told me to find my dreams and he would help me make them happen. And, he is doing that now in a way where he is not physically present."

The things that keep the blue eyed woman with the short blonde hair going is not only Chuck's love and magic, but also the memories they had together.

One of her favorite memories with Chuck is their Death Valley dance. The sun was setting on Death Valley as they drove. It was the time just before dusk when the beauty of the day shines through brightly. The song "Inspiration" by Chicago came on and Alison knew she wanted to mark the moment. She looked at her Chuck and said, "Let's get out and dance."

Due to his health problems, Chuck didn't think he could dance, but she told him to try and he did. Alison pulled to the side of the road and turned up the music. The duo got out of their vehicle and met at the front and danced. For a split moment, Alison almost didn't pull over because she thought it might be silly, she said.

Chuck ended that dance with a dip like he always did because "I told him right from the first time we danced that I thought that to be the height of romance," Alison recalled with fondness.

She said she is eternally grateful because it would end up being her last dance with Chuck.

"I will always have that last dance," she said. "Chuck was always romantic. We never took a moment for granted; we made it count."

Those moments were especially vital when Chuck was in hospice care. Alison remembered her final conversation with her husband.

"My last conversation with him was saying goodbye and telling him I would be OK," she said. "I thanked him for being in my life, for loving me and showing me how to trust again. I told him I would always remember him."

He told me, "You know I love our children so much and it is hard to say goodbye to them, but it is hardest of all to say goodbye to you. It's hard to say goodbye to us."

"I had no idea what I would be going out to do," she recalled. "But I knew the love he had for me would bring me through it. I just kissed him and said goodbye."

Dealing with the loss of her husband hasn't been easy, but she said it showed her she is fearless.
"I have no fear anymore," she said simply. "After losing this man and watching him die in front of me, there is nothing left to fear."

Alison has expressed this to her children as well and her wish is for them not to worry.
"When the time comes and I die, what I want you to picture in your heads and in your hearts more importantly is that I have no fear, and I am picturing myself lying on the bed wherever I am. Chuck is going to walk across the room like he always used to and hold out his hand for me to dance and he is going to take my hand and pull me up, and we are going to dance."

Until that final dance comes with her beloved, Alison continues telling their story of love to anyone who will listen.

To find out where Alison currently is on her journey, you can find her at