Written November 8, 2016
We are moving! It’s so exciting and so exhausting! It brings up so many memories!
We knew we weren’t living in our “forever” home but we loved our big, colorful condo with the view of Heron Lake, and a beautiful sunset every evening right outside our window. We loved watching the Great Blue Herons gracefully gliding through the sky to land on our dock, or maybe on the fallen tree at the far end of the lake, where they stood quiet and still, until skillfully plucking an unsuspecting fish or two out of the lake for a tasty meal. We watched hawks soaring high above the lake, kingfishers fishing, green herons flitting from one low hanging branch to another, an occasional tern dive bombing for food, hummingbirds buzzing, and a multitude of other native birds, as well as an annually migrating loon who amazed me with how long he could stay submerged.
We paddled around the lake in our paddle boat and fed corn to dozens of ducks, and occasionally even the geese would join the feast. After a few times out on the boat our grandson Cooper was able to feed the ducks from his hand, and he gave names to several of those he recognized each time.
The condo on Heron Lake is where Mark was living when I met him and on our second date we played Scrabble there and enjoyed each other’s company; but when I returned home I felt tears slide down my face, wetting it with sorrow. At first I didn’t know why I was crying, but after quietly sitting with my tears for some time, I realized I was still grieving for what should have been. I was grieving the loss of a 37 year marriage that was mostly loving and good, until it wasn’t.
I told Mark why I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet, and he understood because his marriage of 37 years had ended a couple of years before. He stayed in touch by sending an occasional card with words of encouragement, and with one phone call I didn’t answer. I wouldn’t see Mark again until the following year when I felt my grief was coming to an end and we met for coffee. A month later I asked him to go to the Senior Prom at Crestwood, and a year later I moved in with Mark at the Heron Lake condo.
During that year of getting to know each other I was working full time at Crestwood, and also had a second job every other weekend, from Friday evening until Sunday evening, caregiving for a lovely elderly woman. The weekends I wasn’t working I spent with Mark at his condo, or with my grandson Cooper at my apartment. There were also lots of days Cooper and Mark and I all spent time together. They enjoyed each other’s company immensely!
One Friday evening a few months after we began dating, Mark and Cooper and I were swimming at the Jordan Y and Mark got a call that his condo was on fire. He headed home and after taking Cooper home I met Mark at the condo, where I found four firetrucks and thirty firemen putting out the fire that had started in the condo below his. He would be out of his home for four months.
During that time, at his request, we worked closely with one another, slowly putting his home back together. During this same time we were also tearing down our personal walls, and consciously building…brick by brick… the foundation for a strong, honest, loving, fun relationship.
By the time every surface in Mark’s condo had been cleaned, painted, or refinished, and he had moved back in we both knew we were building something worthwhile, and enduring…..and the condo was looking pretty good too! The fire and the restoration of the condo truly seemed to be a metaphor…an echo of our lives…lives that had been burned down, and then lovingly restored with conscious effort and attention.
During the following year I would move into Mark’s condo and transition gradually to being fully retired. We continued to make improvements on the condo, and on our relationship, we supported each other through health scares and surgeries, enjoyed each other’s company while traveling, enjoyed entertaining our friends, and fell in love with Sedona, AZ where we would eventually be married in the midst of the beautiful red rocks. All of these memories and so many more were made within the brightly painted walls at our Heron Lake home, and will reside forever in my heart, wherever I may live.
Just three weeks ago we moved into our “forever” home. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood with lots of trees and beautiful streets that will give us hours of safe walking right outside our doorstep. It feels like a real neighborhood with welcoming neighbors and a strong homeowners association that keeps things well maintained and looking great. Our home is one level and has been fully updated with attention to small details, and it’s spacious with generously sized rooms, wide hallways, and lots of large windows in every room that allow the light to fully shine in. We are both enjoying the luxury of a garage again, and the fire pit we purchased for our patio will be heating up soon. I plan on planting a small herb and flower garden next Spring, and we are already loving the woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees, as well as a mighty cheeky squirrel who visits the birdfeeder.
Little by little we are making this place our own, and we have already begun to fill it with memories, and are looking forward to so many, many more to come.