Friday, June 03, 2011

Bittersweet Times

I had met a lady in Florida a few years ago and we courted and married. We decided to buy a home on the Florida panhandle near the Gulf. We are within walking distance to the beach and can hear the surf on a clear night. I also have a house in Rhode Island that I had built in 1968. This is where my wife and I raised our three children. This is where with trepidation that I watched each of them drive up the street alone for the first time. I am a big believer in letting my kids become independent and driving was a major step in that direction. The living room is where we took the obligatory pictures of the kids and their prom dates. This is where I cared for my ailing wife before she became so ill that she needed to be moved where she would receive around the clock skilled care.

I originally put the house on the market last year with no luck. So early this year, the house went back on the market at a lower price. There are benefits to carrying two homes. I have a summer place near my children and grand children. I can see my mom who at 95 still has the means to enjoy life. I have a Florida home where we are spending over 8 months of the year. Neither Carol nor I like the cold and snow and all the winter issues. I had just about decided that I would again hold the house another year as the market is so depressed, when the realtor called and said she had an offer. It is below what I had hoped for. However, I will no longer worry about the heating system in the dead of winter. I will no longer worry that the snow and ice will buildup on the roof. I will no longer worry that a limb will fall and damage property. My eldest daughter once said to me that she hoped a young couple would buy it and have children there as it was a great house for a family to grow in. We agreed on a price that was lower than I had set in my mind. They are a young (20's) couple about to get married and this will be their first home. The fact that they will probably raise children here swayed me in accepting their offer.

Although it is a small yard, it is alive with the plantings covering 40 + years. I am especially proud of my catalpa tree. It is a marvelous shade tree and pleasant to sit under on a hot summer day. In the corner is a pine tree that came home from kindergarten with my son. It was a little sprig in a milk carton. Today it towers over 40 feet. I have purple and white lilacs that always seem to bloom on Mother's day. Daffodils and crocus that poke up through the lingering snow in the early spring. Irises whose bulbs came from my fathers property. Their offspring bulbs are in my daughters yards, and the yards of former coworkers. The hydrangea that came from a brother in laws property. Pictured below are morning glory flowers which were planted by my wife before she became very ill. There are other flowers that the new owners will discover next spring.

Following is the front view of my Rhode Island home. It is a style called a raised ranch. The bottom level is partially below the grade.

Following is a side view of the house. Years ago, I was becoming more affluent and suggested that we sell and buy a larger home. I was met with loud opposition. The children did not want to change schools. I countered with the fact they would all rejoin their classmates in junior high. My wife was definitely not with me on this issue. So we added an airy California room to the house and the moving issue was never raised again.

Above is a view of the back of the house and the small deck that accommodates a gas grill that is connected to natural gas. Underneath the addition is a storage room with minimal heat. The wide door was to allow easy access for my motorcycle.

We will be heading up there next week. Although a lot of the accumulation of the over 40 years were cleaned out over the past few years, there is so much more to do. The new owners requested a June 24Th closing date. I will have about two weeks to deal with 9 rooms of furniture, pictures, tools, my collection of metal toys, crackle glass, some art work. My niece has made contact with the man who cleaned out mom's house when she sold. I also need a moving company. Furniture will be spread between family and Salvation Army. In my mind, I know how I will attack the cleaning process. My snow thrower will go to the neighbor who always cleared my side walk and driveway.

I will admit to some sleepless night since the sales agreement. It is the right thing to do and I am happy not to have the responsibility and the costs associated with that home. There are many really great memories there. I am sure that when I journey to Rhode Island in the future I will drive by the house and be melancholy.

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