Driver Michial Lindstrom was married to the love of his life for almost 35 years before she died, and it is easy to understand his loss as you talk to him because he continues to bring her up in the conversation.
As The Trucker talked to Lindstrom he mentioned losing her “not too long ago” to Alzheimer’s and while six years may seem like a lot of time to some, loving someone for 35 years and losing them probably will take more than the six years it’s been to get over his loss, if he ever does.
Lindstrom’s wife had five children when they married; two of them were still living at home and he helped raise them, but never had children of his own. She was 20 years older than Lindstrom when they married and she didn’t want more children at 50 years of age.
“When we married I was only 30 and she already had her family,” he said. “She told me straight out she wasn’t going to have any more children.”
“She was my queen and I was her king,” Lindstrom continued. “It’s left me with a pretty big hole in my life because she did ride with me on the truck for a while. She suffered with Alzheimer’s for about three-and-a-half years. When she got sick the kids wanted me off the road to take care of her, but if I stopped working for Swift I’d be unable to keep insurance for her.”
The children were left to care for her and that turned into resentment for Lindstrom, who thought he was doing what was best for the woman who meant everything to him.
“She was the love of my life,” he said. “We met in church. She was the preacher’s daughter and neither of her parents wanted her to marry me. I was in boot camp for the Navy. I had called the church to find out how to get there instead of attending the base chapel. We met in August and married in January.”
The reason they didn’t want her to marry him was because he was in the Navy and so much younger than her. She was 50 years old when they were married. The Navy was the difficult part. They knew a lot about military people and the bad stuff that can go along with that.
“But we had 35 years of wedded bliss,” Lindstrom said. “After about five or six years they decided I was the best thing for their daughter.”
Lindstrom was in the Navy from 1965 to 1993 and served three tours in Vietnam, two tours in Iran, and time in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Falkland Islands and Granada. During his military days he was what they called a crypto. He worked sending and receiving and decoding messages.
“We figured out I was gone nearly 21 years during that time,” he explained, but coming home was a great experience. “She made the home a warm and happy place to come home to. She would prepare for me to come home for weeks in advance.”
Lindstrom is based out of Minnesota and gets home about ever four to six weeks. His mother, brothers and sisters all live there and while he was married he never went home to see them.
“I’ve missed being in touch with them,” he said. “I sold my house and car about four years ago. I had a home in Southern California. I figured out I was home 22 days out of the last year that I owned it. My accountant wanted to know why I had it.”
Lindstrom said his sister wants to buy a house, maybe together with him, but he’s just going to stay with his brothers and sisters when he’s home which is only three to four days at a time.
“It costs $500 a day for each day I’m off and home. But I did take off this last Christmas. It was the first one with my family in 25 years.”
Lindstrom is an owner-operator leased to Swift where he’s been for 15 months hauling dry van. He’s driven trucks for 15 years. His home terminal is in Fontana, Calif., and he drives all 48 states.
His life as a trucker is good because he has a dispatcher, Jennifer Cardoza, whom he is crazy about.
“I have a pretty awesome dispatcher,” he said. “She used to be an owner-operator with Swift. She is absolutely awesome. She treats me marvelously. This girl — I can send her a Qualcomm message or call her on the phone — she’s just got my back. She looks out for me. If she sees a good mileage trip she’ll give it to me. If I want to go somewhere, she’ll get me to that place if she can.”
It seems that whoever you talk to, there is usually some reason they can point to about why they got into trucking. Whether it’s a dream from childhood, or something else, most can say why. And Lindstrom had his reasons.
“I’d retired back on Sept. 13, 1993, and was going to sit home,” he explained. “On Nov. 1, she came in with my breakfast and said, ‘We have to talk.’ She wasn’t used to me being home and wanted me to find something to do. We’d thought about buying a motor home. I didn’t know what to do. I got my CDL and she rode with me. She loved riding in the passenger seat. But the doctor took her off the truck when she got sick. I think that started the decline. Later she didn’t recognize me or the children. She was number six out of 11 kids. I’m number two out of 11 kids.”
After his wife passed, Lindstrom took about a month off.
“I tried to get over losing the best part of my life,” he said. “She was easily 95 percent of my life. It’s hard to motivate yourself to move forward. … I’m looking for a full-time life partner and co-driver and I promise I won’t compare her to my wife. I had a young woman on the tractor with me for about six months. She was looking to become a team driver and convinced me to drive with her. She met a man in the Bahamas on the Internet while we were together. He sent money to help her get there and she’s been there ever since.
“Things happen for a purpose or a reason. I don’t believe in coincidences or accidents. I believe in divine intervention whether a good reason or something that causes pain, there’s a reason for it.”
Lindstrom has two “puppies” that keep him company on the road. He has a 10-year-old miniature dachshund named Gretel and a three-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Patches. Both have ridden along with him since they were three months old.
Lindstrom said he likes the freedom he has in doing his job.
“I do my job very well,” he said. “My boss knows I do my job very well. She doesn’t call me to check up on me. She knows I’m extremely reliable. I like the ability to go cross country and see different places — to see the U.S. I’ve definitely seen the U.S. I’ve been to the Grand Ole Opry during fan appreciation week. Two years ago when the Cleveland Indians were in the playoffs I stopped and tailgated. Last year I stopped and tailgated at the Kansas City Royals stadium,” he said, adding that so many people want him to cook their food on his grill that<