I equate this little blip in the long marriage to Hubs like buying a 3 dollar ticket for a quickie trip aboard the SS Minnow. You know, just a 3 hour tour. Iowa’s economy was in the tank in 1986. About the first time ever we had to consider moving out of the state. We had looked at Minnesota and South Dakota during our first 2 decades of wedded bliss, yet every time John looked for another’s job or was downsized, somehow we always managed to stay in Iowa. Never gave it much thought that we would ever leave. And if we did leave, surely we would return when Iowa’s economy rebounded.
|We thought our gig in Michigan would be temporary…|
Never in my wildest dreams did I think Michigan would become home ‘home.’ I’m an Iowan, not a Michigander or Michiganian. Those aren’t even real words are they? We had never planted very deep, or long lasting roots, moving around Iowa for about 20 years after we got hitched. Yet, we landed in Jackson, Michigan in February, 1987. Thirty years ago this week. I wanted to stay in Big 10 country. But I never thought it would become our permanent home.
|Our first house in Jackson, 1987…|
None of us were exactly thrilled with another move. We all loved Davenport, especially Shannon and I. We had the most to lose. Shannon had just turned 16 and gotten her license. She was popular, a cheerleader, taking accelerated classes and had a cool boyfriend. I had a group of friends like I’d never had before or since. Yup, we were both devastated. Joshua was 11, Adam was 7, both were pretty loosey-goosey. John had been working in Michigan for a few months already. He flew back to Iowa every couple weeks or we’d come to Michigan for a long weekend. Staying at the Holiday Inn was a big treat for all of us except John, who was tired of hotel life. The pool, room service, a restaurant, big perks for young boys who were easily impressed. And always hungry.
|Adam and Josh right after we moved to Michigan, 1987…|
I already told you the story about our house and neighborhood, so I’m not going to rehash that. The rambling ranch was about 25 years old with an acre lot, on the outskirts of Jackson. About a week after we moved (mid-February) my sister-in-law Mary Jane called to see how the unpacking was progressing. We had tons more snow on the ground than Iowa did at the time, but that first weekend after our move, it was sunny and 60 something. Told her that I had plopped my camping cot on the back step and was laying out in the sun. Surrounded by snow and with my socks on. A week later and another 18 inches of snow would curtail this activity for quite a few weeks.
|The family when we arrived in Michigan, 1987…|
Second grader Adam said one of the the cutest things after moving to Jackson. Must have been in late March or early April. The days and nights were finally getting warmer, and during breakfast one morning he happened to look out of the dining room window and stated incredulously, “Mom, I didn’t know we had grass under all that snow!”
|Joshua and Adam in our hot tub on McCain Road, 1990…|
With every year that passes, I grow ever closer to the point where I’ve lived more of my life in Michigan than my beloved Iowa. All the deep rooted feelings I have for my home state haven’t garnered the hearts of my kids. When I look at it from their perspective, it’s understandable. But from a mom who remains homesick for her home state, I can’t fathom that Michigan is much more their home than Iowa. Goodness, Adam’s lived here 4 times longer than he did in Iowa. How is that even possible? So how in the world did a 5 year pit stop turn into 30 years? It doesn’t feel like it’s been 30 years. Maybe 10. Father Time always seems to be running fast when I want him to run just a bit behind schedule for a change.
|Grandma Mag visiting us in Jackson. With Adam and Josh, 1989…|
My granddaughter Ariana just became a mommy. I told her the last month of pregnancy was endless, but afterwards life goes at warp speed. She swore the time was standing still. And it does feel like that when you’re 9 months pregnant and want it over so badly. This week, our little princess Jovi is 3 weeks old already, when it seems like she was born yesterday.
|Our newest member, Jovi Marie, 3 weeks old, 2017…|
The Michigan adventure has been very good for and to us. It’s pretty unusual for a family with 3 grown children, in laws, 4 grandchildren and 1 great grand living relatively close. We’re all within about 60 miles from each other, but it’s not like we see them constantly. We give them space and they do the same for us. But it’s been really neat to be in the middle of things after living 175 miles west of them for 20 years. Watching Graham in a pinch and working on craft projects, driving Peyton and Landon here and there. Seeing Jovi every few days instead of once a month. Things we couldn’t do when we were in North Muskegon.
|I love watching Peyton dance…|
I believe if the kids were scattered all over the United States, we certainly would not be spending our retirement in mid-Michigan. And as much as I adore Iowa, their weather leaves much to be desired. I’m not sure that’s where we’d be hanging our hats either. Probably somewhere where 40 degrees is a low, but not too hot either. Moot point. No place on earth we’d rather be than right here.
|Nothing better than watching Landon play ball, 2016…|
Although our kids have all lived more years in Michigan than Iowa, they certainly aren’t cemented in Michigan. I’m kind of surprised they all stayed here this long. Two of the kids are business owners, so doubtful either would just up and move across the country. Adam is head chef at a fancy restaurant in Ann Arbor. His restaurant is owned by a corporation, he could possibly move just about anywhere. But since our whole family is a stones throw away, so is Sarah’s. They love Graham’s school, just bought a home, and Sarah’s got a great job so I don’t see them moving anytime soon. More than likely Hubs and I will spend the rest of our days in Michigan. If I live long enough where my Iowa/Michigan balance of years lived swings towards the mitten state, (which isn’t that far away-a mere 8 more years) I’m good with that. But my heart will always belong to Rock Valley and the great state of Iowa…
|Graham fishing with Adam, 2016…|