Preparation

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All it took was one casual mention by my husband of moving to Beaver Island to set me off in a frenzy of making plans.

Paper, for lists. Graph paper, for plans.

Books for inspiration. Garden books, cookbooks and lifestyle books were now read through the lens of our imagined future on Beaver Island. The Second Tree from the Corner by E.B. White was a collection of essays written when he’d moved his small family from New York City to a saltwater farm in Maine. I read it again and again. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder became, one chapter at a time, bedtime stories for my daughters.

We told our parents.

My in-laws were horrified. We had depended heavily on them for everything: companionship, advice, help with our little girls, jobs and monetary assistance. I’m sure they wondered how we would possibly get by without them. I wondered, too, but felt that we had to give it a try. Our habit of always going to them for help whenever we got in a bind had become a real sore spot in our marriage. It was time to stand on our own.

My Mom didn’t think it was a wise move and – more importantly – told me that Dad didn’t think it was a good idea either. My Dad broke his rule about no interference to voice his disapproval. “Winters are awful hard on Beaver Island,” he warned. We listened and sympathized and did our best to reassure…but we didn’t change our mind.

We made four trips to Beaver Island that summer, to secure jobs and housing. My husband would be working for one of the island builders. Stanley Floyd, an old friend of my father’s, introduced me to Barb Beckers, the owner of the Shamrock Bar & Restaurant. She offered me a job, and sent me to talk to Carol LaFreniere about help with child care for my girls.

Topper, another old friend, introduced us to Johnny “Andy” Gallagher, and tried to convince him to rent us his little house on the Back Highway. No luck there, but other introductions led to other leads. We finally secured a place to rent, though it wouldn’t be available until the end of October. My Aunt Katie, who had inherited the farmhouse when Grandpa George died but had not yet retired or moved into it, agreed to let us stay there until we could get into the other place.

The plan was this: I would move to the island with the girls before school started, get Jennifer registered for first grade, get settled in at the farmhouse and start my job. Terry would finish one last big job (sounds kind of like he was a bank robber but, no, he was a roofer) to pay off some debt and give us a good start. He’d join us before the month was out.

Despite all of my lists and graphs and plans, when it came time to make the move, I had done very little packing. Our furniture – that hadn’t been loaned out or given away – needed to go into storage. Walls had to be cleaned and repaired to get our security deposit back. I’m pretty sure there was still a mound of laundry and other stuff in the basement. I left all of that for Terry to deal with. I’m fairly sure he handed it off to his mother.

So much for our big push toward self-reliance, independence and adulthood!

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4 responses »

  1. Reading these stories about your early life and dependence on your parents reminds me so much of my own rather feckless youth (not that I’m making comparisons here). I remember telling my parents I’d found an apartment and was leaving home. ‘Do you have any bed linen and towels?’ asked my mother.’Er, no.’ ‘Any plates, pots, pans, cutlery?’ ‘Er, no.’ All I had were my clothes (bought by my parents, natch) and a car (bought with a loan from my parents). She went round the house like a whirlwind giving me spare household goods. I soon found that living independently cost a lot more than I’d expected. Needless to say I went home every Sunday for my mum’s roast dinner.

    • For all the time that we lived nearby, my Mom’s house was the place for Sunday dinner. We managed to snag at least one other meal each week at my in-law’s. I cringe at how grown-up I thought I was!

  2. It is interesting how we all have to reinvent the wheel in our younger days. So important though to make own decisions and mistakes (if there were any) rather than rely on parents because then you can also claim the glory when things turn out well! 🙂

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