Nomads…

I was raised to stay put. Until serious health issues forced Mom and Dad to make some necessary, but unwanted changes, they had only lived in 2 houses through 62 years of marriage. Both in Rock Valley. In 1955, when I was 4, we moved to 1711 15th Street, which would remain their home for 50 years. Hard to imagine. Back then, most things they were involved with were long term. Dad worked at the Iowa State Hiway Commission over 30 years. This wasn’t just a small town Iowa thing either. As a rookie, if you started your baseball career with the Chicago Cubs, odds were 20 some years later, you were still playing with those lovable losers. So what happened to me? How come I didn’t stay in Rock Valley? Heck, I even moved away from Iowa.

 

1711 15th St. where I grew up…

I never set out to move a lot in my adult life. I recently found a hundred letters Mom saved that I wrote her in the mid-70’s. In several, I’m very troubled because Shannon is about to turn 5. It wasn’t the turning five part I was unhappy about, but the going to school part. We were living in eastern Iowa. That area involved several miles which was about 90% Catholic. Nothing wrong with that, but every small city, town, village, and neighborhood of 3 or more homes, had their own Catholic school. Shannon was about to start kindergarten. The closest public school was miles away and humongous. I wasn’t feeling comfortable with our options. Deep down I had an uneasy feeling my kids weren’t going to experience the kind of school career (not the hopeless, non-study type kid I was, but the closeness of the small town living throughout my whole childhood). That somewhat ominous feeling would prove true for all my little rug rats. Sigh.

 

First day of school for Shannon on the farm, 1976…

 

I wrote Mom it was high time the Hubs and I settled down. I was committed to the idea. I wanted us to live, work and “stay put” in the same town once Shannon started school. That way, she could enjoy what I had growing up. Going to school with the same kids the entire 13 years. Knowing almost everyone in town. I was anxious to put down serious roots somewhere. I was skeptical and a bit afraid of this big school system she would have to attend if we stayed. It wasn’t what I knew or grew up with. How are you supposed to nurture close friendships with a class size of 400? My class size was only 50 some kids. Worrywart mom.

 

One of my class pics, maybe 4th grade…

 

Not to be. Hubs and I never did end up staying in any one place very long. Only time we did, Shannon and Joshua were grown and out on their own. Adam was a sophomore. I believe both boys changed schools 4 times. Four times. Shannon informed me she changed schools 7 times. So much worse. I guess I’ve been in denial. Pitiful. Totally blocked out a few of her moves.

 

Davenport 1985. Josh and Shannon had already changed schools several times…

 

It sure never crossed my mind that John and I would end up moving 15 times during 45 years of marriage. If you take away the lengthy stay in North Muskegon of 21 years, that’s not letting very much grass grow-anywhere. A few moves were our choice, but many were not. Companies where John was working suffered a downturn, the economy was in the tank, or companies were swallowed up by a bigger fish, and employees let go. Each time requiring finding work elsewhere, and moving the family. Again. Never occurred to me until recently but when each of our kids were sophomores, we moved, and they had to change schools. Tough time for teens. And for the mother of teens.

 

Mommy and Shannon, 1973. The first home we bought in Sioux City, Iowa…

 

Our kids seem to have skipped a generation and that pesky gene that has plagued their mom and dad. Although Josh has moved around a bit in the city, he’s been in Detroit for over 15 years. Shannon moved back to Jackson 14 years ago and still lives in the same house. Though that may change, but not by very many miles. Adam and Sarah haven’t moved either. Both are committed to the fantastic school district adorable Graham attends. Makes me feel good. They’ve put down better, deeper roots than we ever did.

 

Davenport Iowa home during Bix Race, 1985…

 

For as long as I can remember, we’ve always had “the next place” lined up and ready. Our current situation is a first. I fretted about it for weeks. Finally just had to let that one go. It somehow seemed irresponsible to me, without just cause. Not to have a place to call our own when Allied Van Lines pulled up in front of the house. What were we trying to accomplish, relive the ’60’s? We never were the young snots going through hippiedom. We were trying our darnedest to raise our kids the best we could.

 

Jackson, Mi. 1987-1994…

 

But it really started even earlier than that. I had made a list of businesses to call. You know, Consumer’s Energy, DTE Gas, Directv, Internet. Plus all of my magazines that needed a change of address. People, TV Guide, Good Housekeeping, (as if) Family Circle. I found all the numbers and addresses I needed and sat down with a frown. Not looking forward to all those calls. I don’t do very well on the phone with my hearing loss.

 

J and D. Didn’t have a permanent address together yet, 1965…

 

That’s when it hit me. For the first time in our married life, we had no forwarding address. I couldn’t request the electricity be switched from North Muskegon to WHERE-EVER! I would have our final bill sent to? Where? Hmmm. Might have suffered a mini-meltdown right then and there all by myself. Such a disconcerting feeling. A sense of panic. We’ve always had somewhere to go. Responsible parents with a home, and new school, even if the kids were justifiably upset with another move. Yet here we were. Retired. Still, seemingly not together enough to have “the next place to live.” Just can’t explain how queasy that made me feel when the realization hit.

 

Moorings Court, North Muskegon, Mi, 1994-2015…

 

Finally, after a little weepy and poor, woe is me session, I dried my eyes, blew my nose, and started punching out numbers. After a few calls, I thought it polite to text Shannon, asking if we could use her address as a home base until we bought a house? Since I had already given it out to a dozen times.

 
Rock Valley, Iowa has always held a special place in my heart…

 

It’s a weird feeling not having a home base. A strange feeling I hadn’t felt since my 40th class reunion in 2009. Hubs and I were in Rock Valley for the day. Shopping, eating, riding around and reminiscing through old neighborhoods. But we were staying in Le Mars with John’s brother and his wife, Les and Mary Jane. Dressed in jeans and t-shirts, though at least smart enough to bring along better clothes for the reunion. But an hour before heading to the reunion we suddenly found ourselves questioning exactly where could we change our clothes? Without that home base we were both so used to. We finally drove outside of Rock Valley, stopped on a gravel road. Walked down the ditch and each changed clothes in the corn field. Laughed about what we would have been doing 40 plus years before when changing clothes together in a corn field. Yeah, we would have been very late. And dirty. All joking aside, it was an awful feeling. Still gives me the heebie-jeebies. No home base. Nomads. Wandering. Drifting. Sponging off our kids.

 

The Hubs and I…

 

I was telling Shannon about the strange feelings Hubs and I have been having. Living with our kids. Waking up during the night, before dawn. Watching my son-in-law Tracey slink (hard to do when you’re 6’5″) through the house with his hand covering the dim light of his phone. Navigating quietly through his own house. Trying hard to be polite and not wake me by turning on some lights. Whispering to Landon as they got ready to start their long day. Decided to give Shannon and crew a long weekend break, so have been staying with Adam and Sarah for a few days. Waiting for news on the house we bid on. Lots to do, but nothing much to do until we close. Our 11 year old granddaughter, Peyton appeared to be in her own little-newly-minted-middle-school-normal-world while we were talking. I was joking with Shannon about our living conditions. Being homeless. Peyton’s head shot up, her eyes scorched mine. She insisted with some heat, “grandma, you’re not homeless. You live with us now and this is your home.” What a great thing to say. Thanks Peyton. And thanks kids…

 

Peyton honing her archery skills at camp, 2015…

 

 

 

 

 

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