Today is the 30th. I promised myself I would write a blog about gratefulness and thankfulness every day in November. So, today is my last November post.
I’ve actually enjoyed this journey. Writing down the things that you are grateful for is sometimes difficult. I believe we are all grateful for hundreds of things, but putting everything into words is not always easy. Today, I am grateful for all of the places I have lived and the friends I have made along the way.
I was born in Baltimore, MD. Sometime between being born and being three-years-old, we moved to Greensburg, PA. I know we lived in a couple other places in between, but I sure don’t remember them.
I lived in Indiana, PA for a couple of years while I was in college, and then in Dayton Beach, FL for about 8 months when a friend and I decided we were going to get out of Greensburg.
When I got married in 1974, we lived in an apartment for about 6 months. We got free rent because I managed renting the apartments and my husband took care of the yard and maintenance. I got to know an older couple that lived there–very nice people. One day, Dorothy (the wife) said they wanted to have us come to dinner at their place. She was a good cook! After dinner, Bob (the husband) pushed his chair back and told us they wanted to sell us their house. It was a 3-bedroom home that they had to move out of because he had a heart attack and couldn’t take care of the 1-acre large yard. Their kids were living there and trashing the place.
We went out to take a look and asked the local S&L to got out and do an appraisal. When the appraiser called me, he said we could knock down the house and just the property would be worth the $20,000 they were asking. We had $1,000, and my husband’s grandfather loaned us the other $1,000 for the down payment. The place truly was a mess, but with some hard work, new kitchen cabinets and plumbing, new bathroom and appliances, paint, wallpaper and carpet it turned into a wonderful small, cozy home. The land was bordered on two sides by a city park, but it was all woods in that area–no trails, etc., close by. The acre was long, and the only neighbors were at the end of the yard–far, far away. We lived in that home for 5 years. Our son was born when we lived there.
In 1979, we bought a home in Newark, OH. It was a 2-bedroom ranch on 6 acres with a pond in the front yard. Oh how I loved that house. So much room for my son and our dog to run, and so much fun to be had. The living/dining room was surrounded by picture windows, so the view was amazing! We swam in the pond in the summer, ice skated in the winter, and fished any time they were biting. There were some good sled-riding hills, and we always had a ton of kids enjoying the snow.
After 2 years living in my dream home in my dream place, my husband decided he couldn’t handle the responsibility of keeping up the property and raising our son. So, when our divorce was final, I packed up my things and went to stay at my mom and dad’s house – for 15 minutes. I then called my sister and went to Wadsworth, OH to stay until I could find a job and a place to live. It took me 6 weeks, but soon my son and I were settled in a tiny little two-bedroom converted chicken coop. We lived there for four years. It’s not as bad as it sounds. It was very small, but they had just converted it, so everything was new. It wasn’t painted that color. I think that actually makes it look even smaller. It had a big yard, and that was great for my son. The landlord was great, and it was really a cute place.
By now I was working at a nursing facility in Medina, OH, and my boss offered to rent us the lower level of a beautiful farm house that he owned–for the same rent as the chicken coop. It had handmade kitchen cabinets, two full bathrooms, a large living room, three bedrooms, a music room where I could finally have my piano, new carpeting and flooring. It was like heaven. Not that we didn’t like the chicken coop, but my son was 6 now, and he could barely turn around in his bedroom there. We lived there for three years. The house was only 1/4 mile from work, and my boss insisted that I have the school bus drop my son off at work. He would bring in his books, put them on my desk, and then go into my boss’s office where they read the”funnies.” Then he went out and spent time with the residents–riding on their laps in wheelchairs, learning to make ceramics and woodworking projects. It was a privately owned nursing home, beautiful and well-staffed–a perfect place for a young boy to learn to appreciate older folks.
When my dad died, my family decided that my son and I should move to Lake Placid, Florida to help out my mother. We lived there for 18 years in a home on a canal that connected two large lakes. We had a boat, a canoe and a paddle boat. We were on the water all the time. Notice I said “ON” the water. You don’t get “IN” the water in alligator infested canals and lakes. We got out first indoor dog–our first Mini Schnauzer, and we had to have a fence put up to create a run for her. Alligators can climb fences, but at least it would give us time to grab her. My mom lived in Sebring, so we were not on top of each other. After my son graduated from undergrad and graduate schools, he accepted a Ranger position at Zion National Park in Utah. After three hurricanes came through the center of the state, I took the opportunity to get away from FL and accept a transfer and promotion to move to Texas.
I bought a house in Belton, TX on a 3/4 acre wooded lot. It was a new build, and it was wonderful to move into something that no one else ever owned. It had four bedrooms and two full baths, including a walk-in shower and garden tub in the master. The back of the house was almost all windows that looked out onto the huge back porch and the woods populated with deer, turkeys, and all kinds of creatures. This was my absolutely favorite all-time house. I lived there for six years, and I loved every minute of it. I had wonderful neighbors and a great job.
In 2013 my grandson turned 2. I was in Colorado for his birthday, and I realized I couldn’t stay in Texas where I could only see the kids twice a year for a few vacation days. I decided to move again. I easily found a job and house. I moved into my new home in July of 2013. It was a tri-level built in the 70’s when they were popular. It had a large back yard, and the entire yard was well landscaped. It had been updated with a new kitchen, new flooring and carpet and new bathroom fixtures. It was like moving into a new house. In 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I finished treatment in February 2015. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, I had a difficult time with the stairs. I still have terrible balance. My biggest challenge was carrying laundry up and down from the top level to the basement. I knew I couldn’t stay there any longer without breaking a hip or worse.
In September 2015, I finally admitted that I had to look for something else. I found a home in Aurora that was a 2-story with the laundry on the 2nd floor. I thought if I didn’t have to carry the laundry up and down the stairs I would be able to maneuver better. Two years and several falls later I called my realtor and told him I had to find a ranch. There was nothing close by. We looked for almost 2 months, and everything we looked at was terrible.
My daughter-in-law actually found my current home. It’s a 3-bedroom ranch with a basement (and at sturdy handrail), a large back deck and a beautiful view of the mountains. So far, I’ve only fallen here twice–both times on the rocks in the yard–they put those things everywhere–not very stable for a person with lousy balance. But, other than the rocks, I am quite happy here. This is where I plan to live out the rest of my life, unless the kids move somewhere else. But that won’t happen until my grandson is out of high school–12 more years.
I am so grateful to have lived in so many beautiful places. I have been so fortunate that things have just always seemed to work out. And I am thankful that I have been able to share my homes with family and friends.
Over and out for November!