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Looking For the Good Life...

Once upon a time we had a home in a subdivision outside Columbus. We lived there for fifteen years. My husband had been transferred back to Ohio from Michigan.  In that lovely home we had family dinners and saw two of our three daughters graduate from high school. Our oldest was already living on her own.

Our beloved Pug, Sammy, came there to live when he was only six weeks old and so little he couldn’t master the jump up onto the back patio which was only a few inches off the ground. From Sammy we learned all about real love.

 From that house, our youngest daughter graduated college a few years after her father retired there.  In that house we met old friends and new. Found a church home. Established roots in the community.

From there, we married off all three daughters and began to welcome grandbabies.

Our middle daughter sadly got divorced and moved back in (sadly) with two babies. Whew. What a change in our lives! Then, she remarried and moved out again.

That house saw numerous sleep overs, pizza parties, birthday bashes, anniversary dinners, Bible study groups and graduation parties on the lawn.

We learned how to make the best peach jam in the world from the peach tree that hung heavy with fruit in the back yard every summer.

Each Easter while we were there we witnessed the ornamental pear trees lining our street offer up the most beautiful white blossoms. The crab apple in the back yard grew from a sprig to a beautiful pink blossomed tree that was the talk of the neighborhood. The splendor of  our purple clematis overlapping the top of the white trellis on the front porch drew people in from the street to measure it’s height. It provided ample shade for our porch bench where we’d sit on hot summer days discussing exactly why that clematis grew so well. My husband swore it was because he cut it to the ground each fall.

 My husband took up woodworking and turned out some beautiful pieces. He took up antiquing and filled our house and those of our daughters with some wonderful old pieces.

Then, he became bored. Go figure!

I was working on a novel at the time and taking this new found freedom in stride.

That winter we took a trip to Fl to visit my sister who lived in a retirement community built on a golf course with an enormous community center at it's core. Activities abounded. From the couch potato to the highest achiever there were things for everyone to do. Painting, writing, gardening, woodworking, swimming, golf and more.

We fell in love with that fantasy life. Notice I said fantasy.

We came home with numerous possibilities of life in the sun floating in our heads. We came reluctantly, as there was a severe ice storm predicted for Ohio. Of course it hit with all the vengeance of our usual ice storms in the midwest while we were still in the car.

 It took only a few weeks of ice and slush for my husband to proclaim, "I want the good life. I want it now. I want to move."
 We'd go slow we decided. Take our time making important decisions. Do nothing without thinking it through.

We called a local realtor and within a day we had a for sale sign in the yard. She said it would take months to sell the house and we’d have plenty of time to think about what we were doing.

The very first person to walk through the house bought it and wanted us out in thirty days. Well! That was a surprise.

We dashed to Florida thinking we had to to buy a house right away. And we did. It had a golf course only steps away. Not that we golfed. The yard was enclosed with swaying palms and red flowering hibiscus. My husband thought he’d died and gone to heaven. We bought a golf cart and rode through the new neighborhood congratulating ourselves on our new fabulous "upcoming"  life.

Back in Ohio, we had only days to get out of the house. We threw away. Gave away. Sold. We paid people to haul away. Soon we had the accumulations of 35 years down to a manageable lot that could be hauled in a 50 ft. rental Penske truck. Our son-in-law drove our stash to the Gulf Coast and we drove the car.

The house we'd left had been meticulously kept over the years, with all large items recently replaced or updated. The house we bought was only five years old and hadn't been kept up. Understatement. It was right down needy. Advice: NEVER purchase a home in a hurry.

While my husband hired workers and replaced floors, stripped wallpaper, painted, put in new bathrooms and rebuilt our dream home piece by piece, I had a lot of free time to think -  about our children, grandchildren, old friends, and church family who were 900 miles and two driving days away. It didn't console me to know the airport was nearby and a plane could get me to Ohio in a few short hours.

Though I've done my share of traveling by air, I'm beginning to adopt the attitude of my stepfather who used to say if God had meant us to fly he would have given us wings.  He managed well in this life and his feet never left the ground. Therefore, I now save all my air travel for emergencies.

As the weeks passed idly by, each time I went to visit our dream house I was met by my smiling sweaty husband and a bunch of construction type men bearing jackhammers and whistling as they sweated over the new stone patio or hoisted a ladder to blow insulation into the attic. Or install a new water softener or to caulk the new shower floor. By then it was June and HOT as Hades.

I knew I'd be riding in a box soon and using up my air time quickly if I didn't  call a halt to the good life. I begged to go home. Forget the new furniture ordered. Forget the china and family mementos stored in boxes in the garage of the new house. I wanted to go for a little break, I said, a reprieve. A rest. A trip to see my children and grandbabies. Perhaps a quick trip to our old doctor for some feel good meds. I was going to have to be drugged if I was going to enjoy this new good life.

However after being home for a visit and seeing the children and grandchildren and being able to breath again without anxiety attacks, I decided I couldn't live in the dream house, in the dream world I  had created in my head.

The good life just wasn't for me. I wanted to be back in drought ridden dreary Ohio. Where often ice storms in the winter keep us housebound. Where tornadoes sometimes touch down too close for comfort - where on any given day I can see any one of my children and grandchildren or all of them ---if I want to throw caution to the wind and drive like  - well - you get the picture.

So after a month of resting in  Ohio we went back south. We packed the few things we'd unpacked in Florida, rented a truck, called our son in law, a different one this time, and he flew down and drove the truck home.

By then the house in Florida was finished and truly a dream home. Nine months later we sold it to a couple from Indiana who were in search of the good life in the sun. (At a great financial loss to us, I must add.) Truly, I hope they found what they were looking for. As for me, I'm content being in another house on a little piece of land back in Ohio.

All this was several years ago but I often think back on the experience and realize I gained more than I lost. We live near one daughter, another lives not too far away and while the youngest is eight hrs away by car, I can still get to her in a day when I am longing to see her and her family.

Sometimes without even looking for it, the good life finds us.

Blessings to you and  hoping you've found  your "good life."


  1. I live in Ohio..I grew up in the midwest..Chicago. So the weather here is nothing new to me. However, with the coming of Winter and the realization that this mild weather we're having for now is not going to last, I often find myself thinking of sun and sand and warm...I don't even like Florida...but I still daydream...until now. Thanks for the wake up call! I too, would be repacking and heading home. I will have to reread this just as a reminder!

  2. After I did this post I realized how long it was. Sorry about that! I could have cut. Yes Yaya. Think about it before you ever move, esp South.

  3. What a great reminder of being content with what we have! So often I yearn for that which I don't have . . . a bigger house, more yard, a big front porch. Then, I am grateful for my little house when it needs cleaning, my perfect sized yard to keep up . . . well, I still wish I had a front porch! But, it would be facing the neighbor's house, which isn't all that attractive!

    I loved that you moved, then realized the move wasn't the right thing, and went ahead and moved back, regardless of the monetary loss. When it's right, it's right!

  4. My husband often moans about the English weather and thinks he would like to move 'somewhere warm'. I am grateful we get away for 3 months or so in France and then get to come back to my friends and 'real life'. We have a perfect home for us -- plenty of room and our own studies. I envy you being so close to your children and grandchildren -- mine are spread from England to Italy to Korea. My mother and siblings are all in America and spread out from Vermont to Minnesota! Nevertheless, I feel rooted here and content. Good for you for realizing what you had lost and for getting back to where you belonged!

  5. Sounds like fodder for a book. You pursued your dream, only to find you were already living it. Good for you. Only difference is, now you appreciate it more.

  6. What an experience. So glad you came back to Ohio and are happy again. We complain about the weather sometimes, too. I would never leave West Virginia. We may have our problems but, like the song says, it is Almost Heaven to me and my family.

  7. I meant to post my comment here -- and it ended up on your book review. I'll blame it on Mercury retrograde.

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed your blog, Barb. And you do have the good life now! Glad I'm a part of it.

  9. Hello, Barb! Got over here and was distracted by the Day Job! But my focus is back and I have to say your post reminded me a lot of what The Husband and I have been through. Many, many moves looking for the 'right' place. And the 'good life'. I think we're both starting to get the fact that the place gets trumped by friends and family every time :)

    Looking forward to following your "Adventures in Writing" :)

  10. Things we lose become treasures when we find them.

    Am wondering about what happens to those things that we do not realize we have lost?

    I like the idea of each day being a hunt for treasure...


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