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A house full of loved ones gives me a full heart

It became apparent to me this past weekend that I don’t like living alone. Although my husband was only gone for one night, I quickly realized how empty I felt without him in the house.
Since we have moved to Mountain City, Phil and I have become pretty much inseparable. There were countless times, before retirement, where Phil would have to travel for business, leaving me at home with our children. I was so busy trying to maintain crowd control that at night, I would collapse into the bed. Sleep was just seconds away.
I grew up surrounded by family. When I was young, my parents, my younger brother and I lived with my grandparents. One of my aunts and her daughter, whom I still look upon as my big sister, also lived with us. Right next door lived another aunt and her five children. When I say next door, I literally mean next door. During World War II, my grandmother worked for a torpedo factory in Alexandria, Virginia. One of the benefits of the job was housing. While it was government housing, it quickly became home to my grandparents and their three daughters. The tiny houses can be at best described as duplexes, sharing a common wall. I could knock on the wall and my cousins would knock back. Spending time in the bathroom became a way of communicating with my two youngest cousins. If you opened up the medicine cabinet, you could pass notes through the very tiny and thin opening intended for razor blade disposal.
It soon became obvious that being surrounded by extended family would continue throughout my life. My grandmother would come for long, lengthy visits, even though she only lived about 15 miles away. After a week, Phil would begin to quietly ask me, “How long did you say Nanny is staying here?” One of my cousins needed a place to stay for just a short time. That short time evolved into six months. Not only was it my cousin, but her teenage daughter. My step-daughter asked us if her best friend could move in with us during her senior year in high school. It never crossed my mind to actually say no to any of these requests. I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t contemplate it, or that I didn’t have to twist Phil’s arm, because that wouldn’t be true. But I knew that if I could in any way, it was my responsibility to open up my home. You would have thought I would have learned my lesson when a homeless coworker of my oldest son needed a place to live. After living with us for close to a year, we awoke one New Year’s morning to find that he had stolen one of our cars, Phil’s bankcard and some cash. Nevertheless, my theory was one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. Our home became a refuge for friends of two of my sons who needed a place to stay, who may have had an argument with their parents or were in between jobs. One month before we moved to Mountain City, Phil’s mother came to live with us, something we had not expected. Mom, now 92, has continued to live with us for the past three years.
Although Mom was here this past weekend, she can be a quiet soul. While there are times she laughs and cackles at Andy of Mayberry re-runs and the Comedy Channel, she does have her quiet moments. This weekend happened to be one of those times, leaving me time to realize I didn’t want to grow old and live alone in a big, empty house.
Throughout the years I have teased a few of my friends and close cousins that we need to all live together. That plan started to take shape as the quietness of the house settled around me Saturday evening. My vision was a place big enough not to have to say no to anyone, a big, older house with a porch that wrapped all the way around the house. Ideally, all the bedrooms would have access to the porch, with a rocking chair awaiting. Everyone has an area they excel in. While I might end up being the cook, someone else would be the driver. Yet another person living in this large extended family might tend to a small garden.
This plan seems ideal to me. We all need to help each other, and help comes in many ways. What better way than to share our home with family and dear friends. I already have several friends who are eager to sign up. However, the tough part comes in convincing Phil, who has no inkling that I have concocted yet another idea. This may be my biggest challenge yet. Somehow, I’ll think of a way. He is on his way home from Charlottesville, Virginia right now, helping our oldest son move back to our home nestled in the peaceful mountains of northeastern Tennessee. Come to think of it, this might not be such a difficult task after all.