Here is the last half of my memoir that I had to write for class....
I, too, was very familiar with “Up North”. I lived in Berks County until I was nineteen years old. That year some friends and I decided it would be an adventure to move down to Florida. And, I am very glad I did since I ended up meeting the love of my life there and was exposed to a large variety of ethnic foods that I never knew existed outside of my sheltered life in Berks County. But, now, with a family of my own, my roots were drawing me closer to home. We decided to try to settle down about an hour away from “home” and live with my aunt & uncle initially, both very wonderful people, not much older than us. Other than living there temporarily, we had no other arrangements and didn’t know a single soul besides the two of them. Once the decision was made we quickly rented out our Florida townhouse. I, thankfully, babysat for my last time and The Husband and I began to say our good-byes.
Our last few evenings in South Florida passed quickly with my in-laws. My step mother-in-law prepared many of her signature dishes for us, my favorite being her ham balls. We were limited to this little piece of time trying to savor every memory, knowing it could be a year or two until we returned. I remember feeling the difference of leaving Florida with a family in comparison to arriving there seven years earlier without one. After what seemed like a whirlwind of a week, my family and I drove off and began the journey to our new home over 1,200 miles away.
It was a very eventful road trip. Our van was so packed full I felt as though we would tip over every time we hit a bump in the road. Then, we hit a terrible rainstorm in Georgia. Cars were crashing into each other in front of us and all around us and somehow (angels, maybe?) our van (which was also towing our truck) made it through without a scratch. Of course, it scared us so terribly that nobody spoke for the next half hour until our heart rates reached a normal rhythm after the adrenaline wore off. We decided to stop for the night at a halfway point, which anyone who travels that stretch of I-95 knows that means the infamous South of the Border. I assure you that when you pull in with a baby, a dog and a moving van packed to the gills with all of your possessions, you may have a difficult time relaxing much that night. And, when you have to walk through puddles of unknown liquids and shady characters hanging out in the shadows, then sleep is impossible.The Husband and I took turns dozing so one of us could watch the van and check for unwelcome critters, both big and small, trying to enter our room. At daybreak, we anxiously left there and vowed never to return
We continued our voyage north. #1 and Dixie were patient little travelers. The trip consisted of long stretches of driving, fast food meals and rest stops for diaper changes and Dixie walks. We were so exhausted and relieved by the time we got off the exit and followed the directions to my aunt’s house. I recall that when we went over a rather large bump in the road, The Husband said the van almost tipped over from being so top-heavy with the items in the overhead storage, which U-Haul calls Grandma’s Attic (but, looked nothing like my grandma’s attic). Imagine driving 1,200 miles, only to tip over two miles from our destination!
We relished the novelty of being Up North, The Husband found a job the day after we arrived and we started attending a wonderful church. It was delightful to re-connect with the family and friends I had missed during the time I lived in Florida. My grandmother, Grem, welcomed us home with all of my childhood favorites like baked macaroni and cheese and homemade apple dumplings. Family celebrations were just as I remembered them to be: loud and filled with more food then we could eat in a week. Just a few weeks after we arrived, we were able to assist with a surprise seventy-fifth birthday party for my Grem and her twin brother. That was the day that The Husband tried his first sticky bun. He laughed when we asked him if he wanted one and he thought we were joking with him since he had never heard it called that before (he was more familiar with cinnamon buns)! He thought we called it a “stinky bun”. Once we assured him that it was an actual menu item, he ordered one and I asked the server to have it grilled with butter. He liked the gooey treat so much that he ordered another one, and to this day, fourteen years later, grilled sticky buns are one of his favorites!
A few months later The Husband and I purchased a modest three-bedroom ranch home five miles away from my aunt and uncle, I started working part-time, I gave birth to another healthy baby girl, and when she was just shy of her first birthday, we bought our first Subway restaurant. We always seemed to be adjusting to something new. In the next couple of years, I miscarried, but I was blessed to discover a few months afterwards, I had become pregnant with our third daughter and when she was three months old, we bought another Subway. That was probably the most stressful point in our adult lives. We suffered multiple restaurant robberies, my grandfather’s sudden death, all while trying to adjust to owning businesses as we were raising a young family.
This past decade has continued to be a roller coaster of change; we eventually sold both restaurants and invested in a coffee shop that drained us financially. We moved twice. I home schooled my kids, and then decided it would be best for our family (and my mental health) if we sent them to school. After my grandfather passed away, Grem moved in with us until recently she returned to Berks County to live with my mom. Even as I write this, our beloved cat, Zoe, collapsed today with unknown heart problems and because of numerous, inoperable blood clots, we had to put her down. I have learned to expect the unexpected.
There are days I feel as if I have lived so much “life” in just forty years! The Husband and I are still trying to figure out what we want to be when we “grow up”. Through it all, my faith in God has been the foundation that keeps me following my dreams and persevering in the difficult seasons. I have learned that change is nothing to fear. It is simply a bridge to the next part of my journey.