Today I closed on our house in Houghton Lake. And it led to a lot of feels and memories…
When we bought it in 2005 it was such an exciting time! My business was booming, this house had what I needed to set up the shop of my dreams! But better yet, it was UP NORTH! In Michigan, “up north” is more than a location, it is a state of mind. And when you mention any of the popular upnorth (OK, that’s how I think of it – as one word!) vacation spots to a down-stater you will almost always elicit an instant response. Expect a dreamy expression to take over their face, their eyes looking upward to a distant point where the memories live. And next you will hear about their cabin, or wherever they spent summer weekends and vacations during their childhood.
And I’m no different. From the time Gram built her house at next-door Higgins Lake when I was 6 until well into adulthood I would frequently proclaim that someday I was going to live upnorth! And in 2005 that’s exactly what happened!
The house was a mobile home on a large lot with great neighbors, huge trees, and that upnorth air when I first saw it; I knew instantly it was The One. (The day my sister first saw it, on closing day, she said as we approached, “It’s so UPNORTHY!!!”) Cute kitchen, huge living spaces, a 3-season room, 3 cozy bedrooms, bathroom, large utility room…and – is that angels singing that I hear? – an attached garage PERFECT for my new shop! Shutters, a deck, and a big fenced yard for our dogs completed the Perfect Upnorth Home. I LOVED IT!
That’s the house where 14-year-old Casey finished growing up – went to her first prom – brought her baby Leelan home from the hospital – where we enjoyed that baby for his first few years as she worked multiple jobs and went to school – where my mom spent time away from her nursing home mere blocks away before dementia completely took over her mind and her personality through the 20-teen years; she was happy there with us, and we brought her home often to play my keyboard, enjoy her great-grandbaby, cook in the kitchen with me, help me around the house, and feel useful and loved and normal. To enjoy, as much as she could, her final years as a mom, grandma, and great-grandma…
And that’s where I also achieved the dream of my own custom-designed shop to make my line of Itty Bitty Birdie Bites. It had outgrown our kitchen at our former home much earlier, and I needed larger equipment (and more of it!) and lots more space! Being able to set up areas for purchasing, storage, processing, production, shipping, and the little office made me so much more productive, and allowed IB3, as I affectionately called it, to blossom and grow and achieve ever-greater success. I was happily working late into the evening every night, music playing, surrounded by the sounds and smells of production and products. A very happy time!
It was just over 3 years later in my home, early in the morning on October 16, 2008, that a stroke took my speech, my personality, my brain…and my business. But it was the peace of that place, especially the amazing sunsets and gorgeous snow-covered evergreens, the walks on the frozen lake, that helped me to achieve more healing that I’m sure I would have anywhere else.
We realized a couple of years ago that we would never go back, and started talking about selling the house, but I just couldn’t do it. Not yet. I was still invested in it and in all of my memories there. But this winter we decided it was time. And God provided a great buyer to purchase it before we even had to advertise or list it. Today, within a month or so, we closed.
In 2015, after Pete retired, we had bought our first motorhome and gone on the road full-time. Friends of ours from church moved into our house for the cost of their utilities. Though we kept our furniture, kitchenware, bedroom, and my former shop for our own things, and though we would occasionally come and park our rig in the driveway for a few days or even weeks occasionally, they soon made it their home.
After the closing today we went back to the house with the buyer. Because our friends are still there until the end of the month the buyer – who will be doing some pretty extensive work on it – is allowing us to go back for our belongings after they move out. Being there, seeing our things as they always were, and knowing “our” bedroom was set up as we’d left it especially…but not in “our” house…it felt surreal. I couldn’t wrap my feelings around it, my heart was suddenly confused, almost panicked, for a few minutes.
But now we’re back in our motorhome on our beautiful huge leased lot, surrounded by the woods and wildlife we love so much, with the river flowing along behind us as it has for the 2 years we’ve been here, and once again I’m home.