Sunday, April 1, 2012

Buying a House/ Writing the "Memoir"

The year was 1977, I had a great job and my seven children kept me busy. Buying the Bethany house was a way for me to focus on life and not grief. Writing this blog is helping me with my grieving process; I never really had time for it in the first years after Marc’s death. I did not realize until I started this blog in August 2011 how writing is helping me to find closure.

The home we lived in since 1974 in Bethany was a lease option. However Marc, due to his illness, did not want to buy the house. I decided I wanted to buy the house. I loved that house and all the land around it. I put the money down that was needed as a down payment, got a loan and voila, I became a homeowner on my own.

Marc and I had owned 3 houses together all in Iowa: Newton, Red Oak and Ottumwa. The Ottumwa home was our pride and joy. We remodeled the house since it was fire damaged; it was the size of a small mansion. We finished one bedroom so we could take the children with us when we worked on the house. We had four children by then.

The Bethany home became my sanctuary, and with the help of my friend Melinda, I updated the house. The bathroom of the master bedroom was small, so we took part of the closet and enlarged the bathroom. I also lifted the ceiling in the master bedroom. One closet I made into sort of an office since I was writing a cook book at the time. The kids loved the big yard - almost 2 acres. We also had a pool which I did not fill because I was at work so much of the time and did not trust that one or another kid would go swimming and a mishap might happen.

The house is a Cape Cod style with add on rooms. The kitchen was sunken, the dining room was 2 steps up, the living room two steps down and, what I called the music room/den was 2 steps down again.  It had four bedrooms upstairs and one small bedroom with a half bath down stairs. Melinda, who is an interior designer, did the small bedroom for Heidi, all in blue and white including the bedspread. If I think about it now I wonder if she liked sleeping downstairs by herself!! I know she liked the bedroom, at least so she said. Funny, how thoughts of that time come to haunt me.

I loved that home and was so proud that I could manage to buy it on my own. It was a beautiful home.

In the fall of 1979 disaster struck again; our home went up in flames due to a careless accident. I have to say that my ESP had warned me about two weeks prior but I really did not heed the warning. I saw my oldest son and the other kids outside in their underwear and flames coming out on the right side of the house. The reality happened just as I saw it happening two weeks prior. The evening of the fire the big boys were at a friend’s house and Heidi was also at a friend’s house. As I recall Steven and Kurt were sleeping in their room. I remember going through the house around 11 p.m. to check on everybody and Paul, Rodmond, Walter and Neal were still not home. I did not worry too much because at times they would stay over night at their friend’s house. I retreated to my bedroom and fell asleep. I heard the boys coming home a short while later, I went back to sleep.  The next thing that woke me up was smoke. I went and hurried the kids out on the front yard and called 911. One of the boys opened a window in the bedroom where the fire started and that fueled the fire. We had two toy terrier dogs and one died in the fire.

The fire department was there within a few minutes. I wanted to go back into the house to get my purse and the car keys to move the car in case the debris would fall onto the car but the fire man did not let me back into the house until the next day. I was devastated but grateful that no one was hurt.

We stayed in a motel for two nights until I found a place big enough to rent. We moved to Hamden, Connecticut while our home was repaired. It took more than 4 months. The insurance covered most of the costs, except housing. I ended up paying for the mortgage as well as the rent for the rental. Needless to say, I ended up in debt. Also, my attorney closed the claim to soon and there was nothing I could do.

To this day it stings to have lost the house. I am used to loss and I did pull myself back up. My family lost everything in World War II (that is another blog).

In spite of all the hardship, my career kept me going and I became somewhat of a celebrity.

The moral of this story is: keep your chin up and be grateful for what you have. I am so blessed that none of my children got hurt and all survived this set back as well.

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