October 9, 2020
The year was 2002 and we found the home of our dreams. The house sat on a half acre, directly across the street from the country club. The rooms were not numerous, but they were large and wonderful. The master suite included a complete kitchen, his and hers bathrooms, and walk-in closets – in hers, Marie could see all of her clothes and accessories at one time. The living room looked out through French doors onto a beautiful yard – a perfect site for a wedding, indoors or out.
After twenty years, moving from the home where our children grew up was quite an ordeal. As we unloaded the last box I swore that when the time came to leave this one I wanted to be in a box myself, preferably one unadorned and made of pine.
A mere four years later a reversal of fortunes had me eating my words.
Both our family business of more than fifty years and our dream house had to go on the block. The business sale, although traumatic, was successful. The house, not so much.
The realtor, a dear friend and the town’s top seller, suggested a price almost guaranteed to yield a quick sale. All it would take is a couple months to properly stage it for the dream house market – a fateful couple months during which the market for high end homes evaporated.
After six months we took it off the market. Every year, we lowered the price and listed it again. Every year without a nibble. Our nest egg was dwindling.
Meanwhile, Annie, our youngest, went off to college and moved out. She also met and fell in love with Matt – the love of her life. Marie was overjoyed that she would be getting a chance to plan a wedding for her “little girl.” No deal – they wanted to run off and get married in Hawaii. Having recently endured a difficult time as his parents divorced, Matt wanted to ensure that his and Annie’s marriage would start on a joyful note. Just the two of them celebrating on the beach.
Marie is a woman of action – and Annie’s brother, Jeff, is no less. He invited Annie to lunch and, although I’ll never know how, he changed her mind. Annie and Matt decided to have a small family wedding at our house.
Getting to know Matt’s parents took on new importance. We separately spent an evening with his mom then his dad, together with Matt and Annie. Lots of laughter and hugs with wonderful people gave us hope that all would be well.
The dream house was indeed a perfect site for a wedding. The living room perfectly accommodated four rows of eight chairs with an aisle down the middle. Annie and Matt would walk down the aisle and meet the pastor (Annie’s sister, Lainie) in front of the French doors.
After the ceremony, everyone adjourned to the foyer (did I say this was a dream house – a foyer large enough to serve champagne to 32 people) while living and family rooms were reset for dinner.
Dinner was more joyful than we could have imagined. Marie and I sat with Matt’s parents and their spouses. Meanwhile Annie and Matt and their sisters and brothers, in-laws and children were at the other three tables. The din of laughter was everywhere.
After dinner, Matt sat down at the piano (Matt’s profession) and started treating us all to some jazz. Tears came to me as I saw his dad sit down next to him for a duet. As the evening wore on, it became clear that nobody wanted to leave this love-fest. As guests parted, Matt came to me and said, “Did you notice my mom and dad hug as they left?”
Three months after the wedding, we received an offer on our house. I don’t know how this works, but Marie and I just know the reason we had to wait five years was so Annie and Matt could start their marriage on a joyful note.
The buyers owned a condo on Lake Michigan which they rented to us . . . but that’s another story.