It’s been a rough patch of late and I’ve been having a hard time trying to find my smile and I am finally going to explain why. I haven’t been holding back because I wanted to be dramatic. It’s just been a bit difficult to wrap my brain around how life has been going lately and I wanted to figure out how I felt before I said anything because I know questions are going to follow.
Thursday a week ago, my mom called me after dinner. I assumed it was to check in and see how things are. She was a former teacher so I unloaded all the drama that comes with going back to school. My mother listened but I quickly realized this was not the reason she called.
My mother said, “We need to discuss some things that are going on. I can’t maintain where I live any longer so I am selling the property and I’ve going to move to Metter and buy a house there.” Mom went on to explain that this is where her life is and she really feels this is where she needs to be. The conversation took a severe nosedive and ended with my mother hanging up on me because I lost my temper and was screaming at her.
Grandma had a small green house on the front porch where she’d tend to her hundreds of plants. Many had overgrown their pots and were spilling over and a few had even grown to touch the porch ceiling. Every spring their yard would explode in a series of reds, pinks, whites, and yellows from all the azaleas and other flowers Grandma babied.
My Pop would always be tinkering outside the pump house. If he wasn’t fishing or crabbing, Pop would be in the garden. Often with me in tow because I would be in charge of mowing or weeding. Looking back, I hated every minute of it but I also now seem to have that same Richardson Green Thumb because all that time turned out to be a gardening class with Pop as the headmaster.
After they were gone, my dad and mom would spend all their free time fixing up the place. I’d get a phone call once a weekend because while dad was tinkering on the dock and mom would be laying out getting some sun, they’d see a dolphin or maybe some otters playing on the floating dock. It was always a story and I’d love to hear my father spin them even if it was over a phone cord. Not every bit of my storytelling skill come s from my grandfather, the Big Guy gets some credit too.
After Dad was gone, my friends stepped in to help which was a blessing because all the technical skills jumped a generation from Pop and Dad and all went to Mary, my sister. I stuck to mowing, weeding, and any chainsaw related work. But eventually I got sick, Mary moved away, and life went on as all of us began to start our own lives.
Ten years ago Mom moved in and has pretty much been keeping the place up, remodeling, and trying to make it a home again. She splits her time between the family property and Metter with her boyfriend.
It just got to be too much for her and I want to be very clear here. I understand that. Mom is getting older and living on a very fixed income. That property takes a lot of work and even more money. I get that. I’m not mad at my mom for having to sell our family place. I’m upset at how she went about making the decision but that is something else for me to work out and understand as I go on.
So that’s where I am at right now. I’ve spent the past week talking with Mary and a few others so I can wrap my head around this. This is what I’ve figured out and pretty much the actual process.
It suxs much animal genitalia.
It suxs but I am also and adult and so therefore I am just going to have to pull up the ol’ big boy pants and trudge along.
For a few days, I lost much sleep worrying about how Mary and I would come up with the $300,000 to save the property. I scoured the internet reading over rent by owners and even looked at how bed and breakfasts work. Deep down I understood I was clutching at straws even though I refused to acknowledge it.
The few friends I discussed this matter with showed enormous amounts of great support. Gideon helped me look at the business side of it and I actually began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could pull this whole thing off.
|Gideon hanging Xmas lights before the Oyster Roast|
It wasn’t until my old frat buddy, Jeff Ragsdale talked to me that even clicked and I finally got myself into a place where I could think realistically. For very wacky story I can share about Rags and his past like the time, I can also share how he’s grown into quite the responsible adult and very shrewd businessman.
It was Rags who pointed out the very obvious. “How can you afford to live in that place? All your money will go into maintaining the place and Kim and the kids will end up being miserable because it’s so small.”
|Rags & his wife, Maria|
I shook my head in a not so willing agreement as I knew my friend was right. I don’t even hit fifty grand a year and I’m the big bread winner of the family. How could I keep the house and land up without investing not only all my time but also any income that trickles in? This is not even taking into account any of my medical bills; living car payment, regular living expenses and the fact that I have a teen age daughter who seems to believe that anything by Hollister clothes are “an investment.”
Then Rags said it, “Robby, if your dad was still alive, he wouldn’t want you to do this. You are going to put your family at risk and that’s not worth it.”
Ding went a bell. Rags had just said the words I needed to hear that finally rang inside of my head and I knew where I had to go with this. I have to let this piece of property that has been in Richardson hands for over seventy-seven years go.
And I felt ok.
Actually even though I cried a little bit, I felt relief.
The property has been in my way for years and to be a bit poetic, hanging around my neck like an albatross. Yes, I’ve had a dream for years of living there with Kim, Roni, and Jude. I even pictured Roni and Jude learning how to throw a cast net and catching shrimp like we used to do when I was a kid. I pictured Kim and me sitting on the deck, watching the sunset with drinks in hand. She’d snuggle up to me and maybe nuzzle my ear and say something like, “I love our life here.” I pictured Christmases where Aunt Mary and Christine come to visit and we’d open presents in the living room like Mary and I did when we were younger.
|1994 Our last Xmas with Grandma|
Those things already exist just in a different form. Roni and Jude love it when Kim and I pack up the van and hit Tybee for the day lounging on the beach. I get to stare at the surf while the kids attack the beach with their boogie boards. We eat cold fried chicken and everyone always laughs at me as I try to fly my kites very badly.
|ROni and Kim's first time at the Dock|
We don’t have a deck but Kim and I spend many of evenings sitting on the front porch staring out at our cul de sac. Kim has her glass of wine and I drink my bourbon over ice as we peer through the porch ledge which is laden with all our plants and herbs because I have my grandparents’ green thumb.
Every Christmas morning, we open our presents in our own home in Coffee Bluff in the living room. Even though Aunt Mary and Christine live in Hartford, CT, they join us through the magic of my Xbox’s video Kinect.
Someday when the wind is blowing the right way, I smell the march around me and I can hear the boats as they come up the channel. It’s not the same thing as way I grew up over at the family property but it is good enough for now because it’s my life and with my family.
After Rags and I hung up, Kim came in to check on me. She and the kids have been really supportive during this past week. As she asked if I was ok, I smiled and nodded. Everything fell into place for me.
As I started to write this blog, I kept thinking of the scene towards the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy has the Grail in reach while his father is holding them over the ledge. Indy can almost touch the Grail and it’s so close when he hears his father say calmly, “Indiana, let it go.”
You know the rest, Indiana Jones realizes his dad is right and is pulled to safety by Sean Connery. Indy never needs the Grail because in their search, he reconnected with his dad and Indy had his family again.
I have my Holy Grail too but it’s not a gold cup but rather a beautiful wife who can set the word afire when she sits behind her keyboard to write her stories, a daughter who’s beauty and smarts only rivals that of her mom’s, and a son who is as talented with his music as he is quick witted and clever. My love for them and the love they give back are worth more to me than any piece of land.
I know that good days and bad days are ahead of me as I deal with all of this. Been there, done that before. It is going to suck a little but I can’t help but feeling like the rest of my life is now ready to unfold. This is just something I have to go through to get to the next step and I am more than a little bit excited about that. I’ve got my family and that’s all I really need when it comes down to it.
“Let it go and not in the Frozen sort of way”
Thanks for reminding me of that, Indy.
As I went through my pics to find some to use in the blog, there were just too many to fit in the actual story but I still wanted to use them because there was just so many stories that happened there.
|Hagan & Stu after removing the unplugged freezer|
|Mary & me 1987 with Grandma's dog, Dutch|
|Dad and oysters|
|Hagan, Stu, Gid, and Robyn at at Low Country Boil|
|My dog, Belle, loved when everyone was over because there was always somewhere to get comfy|
|Fire Marshall Rags|
|This is what happens when liquor stores throw out their Xmas displays...|
|Sammy and his daughter Ashley|
|Ms. Oysterroast 2004|
|The Fabulous Cerveza Brothers, Doke & Casper|
|Fishing with their Aunt|
|My sister can talk me into anything....|
|Pop and Dad 1987|
|Pop's Piddlin' Place|