Chapter XXXII - A Stake in the Sun
Now we were back home and adjusting to the routine of everyday life. I enjoyed life fully. Every day was a new venture for me. I would wake up in the morning, go into the kitchen, pull the curtains apart and look at the new beautiful day and thank God for being able to live in this beautiful world of ours that he had provided. The sun would stream into my kitchen and the sun plus the smell of coffee gave the promise of another God given good day.
The holidays were upon us again. I would welcome the joy of my family around me. There would be my children, my grandchildren and the dates of the older grandchildren. My apartment, which was comfortable for two, would have standing room only and even that would be crowded. I enjoyed every minute of it. Late at night I was exhausted but very happy.
The Christmas of 1962 Tony asked me if I wanted to go to Florida for a vacation with Anne, himself, and two of their six children. At first I did not know if I should go. I felt I would be intruding on their privacy, but they assured me I was welcome. I accepted their generous offer and that started the custom of spending a couple of weeks in winter in the warmth of the sunshine state. I loved Florida. The difference in climate in the winter months between Florida and New Jersey was incredible. I spent a few winters with my son Tony, Anne and children in Florida. Then one year Marie, my daughter Lucy and her husband Henry, decided to have a vacation in Florida. Tony and his wife Anne would vacation elsewhere - possibly Puerto Rico, Europe or Bermuda.
In 1972 Lee decided to join us with her husband Anthony and their two young daughters. During that year we were a very large group. My son Tony was there with his wife and young children who were now teenagers. All in all we were a caravan of twelve traveling together. What a lot of fun!
The year before Lucy and her husband had decided to buy some lots on the western coast of Florida. Lee and Anthony were going to visit an uncle in Coldwater. Something unfortunate happened the morning we were gathering at my house to start by car towards Florida for our long cherished vacation. Six o'clock was the scheduled time to start from my house. Lucy and Henry were usually on time in arriving but this morning we were all waiting for them when the phone rang. Lucy's son wanted to talk to her. I said, "They are not here yet. Is there anything wrong?"
He said, "Yes, that's why I'm calling."
I asked him what was wrong and he told me his father's brother had died an hour ago. I was disturbed but said that I would tell them when they arrived. About five minutes later they arrived with faces aglow, anticipating a happy trip together. After the first greeting I said, "Lucy, the plans have changed."
Her face fell and she said, "Why?"
I said, "Junior called and wanted to speak to you." She asked, "What did he want?"
I said, "Your brother-in-law died this morning."
She conveyed the information to her husband and decided to go back home, but they assured us they would join us after the funeral.
A sad note settled on all of us as we started on our trip. The trip lasted two days before we reached Coldwater where we stopped to visit Anthony's uncle. That night we had trouble finding lodging because of the campaign for the presidential nomination of 1972. Lindsay and all of his entourage were in Coldwater to make a bid for the nomination.
The next day we started early for Lehigh Acres, a new planned community fifteen miles east of Fort Myers. This was the place where Lucy and her husband had made a commitment to buy land.
My daughter Marie had instructed me that if there were a good business lot I should buy it for her. I didn't like the responsibility of this decision but decided to inquire about one when I was with Lucy at the business office of the corporation. Lucy's commitment was based on their approval for one year before the final contract was signed. We looked at the location of the land returned to the office, and Lucy and Henry confirmed their purchase.
I asked if they had business property for sale. I was told they were not selling any of the business lots but would build and rent. They were looking for homesteaders. On the impulse of the moment I asked if there were a lot for sale near my daughter. I was told the tract was sold out but there were nice lots not too far away. I said to not bother but the salesman insisted that he would like to show us the place on a blueprint map. He was gone only a few minutes, but when he reappeared he had a big smile on his face. He said, "You won't believe it because I can't believe it myself. There was a cancellation during the Christmas holidays on the lot next to your daughter."
I said, "I'll take it."
He said, "For you?" I said, "Yes."
He asked, "How old are you?" I answered, "Seventy five." He said, "What do you want a lot for?"
I answered, "To have a stake in the sun."
Tony, Lucy and Henry were in the room. I required money. I did not have to bind the sale, but, having seen the property, I needed a percentage of the total sale. I said, "I can give you $50.00 and will send the rest when I return home."
He said he couldn't do that, and I felt he wanted to clinch the sale while I was there in case I might change my mind. Tony offered to advance the down payment of ten per cent of the sale.
When I returned home Marie wanted to buy the lot herself but I decided to keep it because it was not what she really wanted.
I promptly discharged my obligation to Tony and the final agreement was for me to pay for the lot in five years in monthly installments. The deal was concluded on the Wednesday.
We had one more day before we would proceed to Hollywood where we had reservations, so we decided to visit Naples on the west coast. It is a beautiful resort town where every street leads to the Gulf of Mexico. Its beauty is very hard to describe. One will have to see it to believe it. We spent the night in Naples and left early the next morning for Hollywood and the rest of our vacation.
That was in 1972.
I have visited the place of my old age dreams twice since then, the dream that may never materialize because of two complications. One of them alone might not have deterred me.
I had an accident in the summer of 1970. I suffered a fall in a supermarket parking lot and it left me with a broken hip. It mended, but one leg was shorter than the other and I walked with a cane.
The other complication occurred because age began to work on me and my heart suffered a slight setback. The doctor did not think it would be wise for me, at my age, to live alone. I love the warm climate of Florida in the winter months but my dream is like that of Moses and the Promised Land. I love it but will probably not live there in my old age.
I haven't any reason to complain. I live in a beautiful home. Marie is very good to me. Eddie and Lee are only a short distance away and all the other children only an hour or so away. Lucy visits practically every Tuesday, her day off from work. Irma is also not too far away and she takes me to visit the shore when she has time off from her teaching in the winter. I am a very fortunate person indeed.
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