On Inauguration Day 1993, Seattle was hit with one of the strongest windstorms ever to hit the area. Winds reached Category 1 hurricane level at one point, and a tree fell on the house we were renting. I previously wrote about this storm in my post, “Of Falling Trees and Such.”
Following that dramatic event, we immediately had to move out of the house we were renting (since it was too damaged to continue living in), put our things in storage (I didn’t realize this would be the theme of my life!), and stayed with friends while we looked for a house to buy. Interest rates had gone down to a place where we felt we could afford to purchase a house. While Joe went to work, the kids and I looked at house after house with a realtor. In particular, I remember a house with red shag carpeting on the walls in the basement, among many others. We made an offer on a house, only to have it fall through on inspection. Other offers were topped by higher offers on several occasions. It was a tough market to find something close in so Joe wouldn’t have to drive too far to work.
At one time during this journey, I entered a poem in a contest sponsored by local Christian radio station about “what makes a house a home,” winning awesome mini blinds for our entire home. Since we didn’t actually have a home at the time, the company granted our request to hold onto our win until we actually had a home. It was a tremendous encouragement at the time to have that hope to hold onto, that we would actually have a home one day.
As spring began to turn into summer, we took a break from house hunting. We drove to Southern California so we could take the kids to Disneyland and then went to Colorado to see Joe’s folks. From there, Joe flew back to Washington to work, rented an apartment for us to live in while we looked for a place to live, and I drove on to the Midwest to visit family in various locales over the summer. In the fall, I drove back to the Seattle area so we could begin our house hunting again. We ended up purchasing a lot and having a house built. And, yes, one of the first things I did when the house was complete was to order our mini blinds.
Years later, I ran across a list I had made very early on in that journey that contained things I really wanted in a home. I had forgotten that I had written down such a list early in our search and was surprised how many things on that list were part of the home we had built. I loved and miss that house, not so much for the house itself, but for the time we spent in it with our family. It was our home.
I woke up this morning with an urgency to find a house to buy. As in 1993, interest rates once again are at a historic low and will not remain that way for long. We need to do all we can to make our limited resources work for us.
We have been without a home of our own since 2010 and the few things we have left have been in storage since then. Through various circumstances, we have lived in furnished rentals in Florida and North Carolina (without really even owning any house possessions, such as couches or even our own beds or pots and pans), but have really wanted – and have pursued such over the years – to purchase our own home to live out the rest of our lives. It’s time. Our latest drama has left us exhausted.
So, once again I will make a list again for what will probably be our final home purchase: small house or quiet townhome with low HOA fees in a place with interesting things to do, a place relatively close to family, reasonable price, not too large or too small, not too crowded next to other houses, one level or possibly two, cozy, 2-3 bedrooms with one I can use for an office for my writing and research (I was working on a series of posts for this blog, research now in storage, when we had to move out of our last place), 2 – 2 1/2 baths with a walk in shower in the master (no soaking tub to clean!), lots of sunshine that comes in the windows, hardwood floors, an updated kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space (and a gas stove, if possible), and a small backyard with a patio or screened-in porch. Not too much to ask for, is it?
Home. I long to be finally at home in our own house with our own furnishings. We’ve been making do for far too long. I just don’t know where “home” is any more or where we fit. Joe and I talk about different places and then one of us says to the other, “What’s there for us?” And the other of us says, “I don’t know.” We’re discouraged. We honestly don’t know where we fit or belong. That makes it difficult to know where to buy a house.
We also are constrained by our income. Once I retire, my income drops considerably. Because I homeschooled the kids for so many years and didn’t work during that time, I have a lot of years when I didn’t contribute to Social Security or any retirement plan. I wouldn’t have missed the time with my kids for anything in the world, but the reality we live with now is that we have less to live on in retirement. Joe’s also income dropped precipitously after Jason’s death, so his pension and Social Security are quite a bit less than they would have been had he worked full-time until he was 65 or so.
It’s amazing how secondary losses come into play following the death of a child and how many things and for how long the death of a child can touch. I can honestly say our current situation is at least in part a result of Jason’s death and our brokenness from losing our precious son, and the decisions we made in and based on that brokenness. It is what it is and we have to make the best decisions we can on what we have and where we are now.
Both Joe and I truly struggled incredibly following Jason’s death. We still do. We have always been a positive and optimistic people, but we are discouraged and tired of this journey. It has been hard to find hope. My heart longs to be at home, a place to rest our broken hearts and hopefully find some peace, but I don’t know if we will truly find it until we join Jason in our ultimate home in heaven.
Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to look for a place to call home.
© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney