START FROM SCRATCH

IF

Crying, I picked fleas off my baby’s newborn head.

“Samuel, they are on him!” I cried aghast at such horror, the bottom falling out of our little dream world in the Adirondacks.

We bathed the dogs, flea bombed the house and had a serious discussion. Our meager savings depleted, we knew we had to pack up and move back to Mom’s before the December snows hit and we ran out of money altogether, even for the gas to get home. We had managed a short eight months of living up north.

Upon arrival Mom greeted us but our arrival was solemn. Now what?

One night lying in bed next to Samuel I noticed him crying.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed. I had not seen him cry before.

“Nothing,” he said, turning away.

But I knew. His minimum wage job at the warehouse that he’d been lucky to find hardly paid the bills. And heaped onto that? Feelings of failure, returning from our newly built home and youthful dreams of an idyllic life in the Adirondacks.  Though we had youth on our side, it came with lack of foresight, even common sense. One needs a job to sustain life, especially in the Adirondacks yet it’s a very tough place to find work unless you hunt, trap or fish.

Things slowly improved. Samuel found work with his long-time friend who owned an electrical company. Now he had employment in an area that interested him and that he taken classes for. We saved our pennies and with the sale of our northern home were able to buy a house and move out of Mom’s.

I need to clarify, a shell of a house? Thirty years ago we purchased this dwelling for $19,000 with $3,000 down. It needed just a few things, like walls, ceilings, floors other than plywood, a new electrical system, septic system, potable water, the list goes on. Oh, and that house that we raised our two sons in practically sat on a very busy train track, much busier than the sellers were willing to admit to. The windows rattled when the trains went by and if you were outside you could not carry on a conversation until they passed.

Yet I danced, twirled and hummed to the radio unpacking, as happy as one could possibly be—we had a home of our own. We were out of my mother’s basement!

I stayed home with the baby filling the old Kalamazoo cook-stove every couple of hours with wood to keep us cozy. That old enamel stove kept us warm but also made a nice dryer for the diapers hanging near-by. We managed on what little we had and were happy there for over twenty years. It’s what we had that mattered, each other.

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