Keeping it real and Keeping it positive.

When a Dream becomes a Reality….

on April 18, 2017

I remember the moment it came to me…’this is the place and these are the people with whom I want to grow old’….well maybe I didn’t use PERFECT grammar, but you get the idea.

It was a couple of years ago and we were in Florida to see the kids. We surprised the grandsons with our presence and that meant we all were together. We all met up in St Petersburg, Fl at the home of our dear friends, Patti and Larry Webster.  Our other wonderful Florida friends, Tom and Jenn Keller and Rachael were also there when Jonathan and Jme and the boys came in. Later that weekend we were playing cards…it’s what we do when we are all together…and it came to me as clear as anything has ever been confirmed in my heart and mind…this is the place and these are the people we need to grow old with. These are the people we have known for many decades. These are the people who we trust to care for our children whether they are young or young adults. These are the people who have walked through deep waters with us, laughed with us, cried with us, and always, always prayed for and with us.

Barry always wanted to retire to Florida. Me…not so much. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Northern Virginia. I love the pace….the craziness…the culture. I love the diversity and the opportunities and yes, even the TRAFFIC. I love everything about it. I have lived there longer than any other place in our very mobile lives. I have ROOTS there. I have amazing friends, a great job, lots to do. Barry loves it as well…but he never really thought of it as a place to ‘grow old together’. So we kept the conversation open. We weren’t ready to fully retire…not even close…well at least not ME! I started a new career in my early 60’s and love being a Realtor. I’ve had lots of ‘careers’ in my 42 plus years of marriage and didn’t feel ready to be a retired person. Barry was in a different place. He had worked every day of his life since the age of 17 when he signed in at West Point. He was tired…ready…excited to start this next phase of our lives. So our timeline was not at the same place. When that happens we wait. We wait until we are on the same page and we always, get there eventually.

Let me take you back a few decades. In 1987 we moved to Florida. Barry was stationed at CENTCOM, before anyone had ever heard about it. A little known General named Norman Schwarzkopt was the commander. We rented a house in St Petersburg Beach. Why live in Florida and not be near water, was our rationale. I got a job subbing at Northside Christian School and from that very, very temporary job God opened doors and I was hired full-time. Not long after that I was challenged to see if we could start a Middle School. Because budgets drive decisions and there was no budget for this ‘great idea’, I offered to do it for no additional pay than I was making as a teacher. That decision and moving forward connected our family with the Keller family as Tom also had a heart for Middle Schoolers and together we followed God’s leading to develop Northside Christian Middle School. Then Jennifer came to NCS as a High School Math teacher. Our families were pretty much inseparable. We spent weekends together with our two families. We became the best of friends. We then moved to Fort Stewart..the Kellers helped us move in. They cooked for Barry’s promotion party. Then Desert Storm happened. Our son was in middle school then and was not adjusting well to a new school and having his father gone. He wanted to return to Florida. Of course that wasn’t possible for me to move the family back to Florida while Barry was deployed. I remember calling the Kellers in tears asking for prayer. They didn’t even hesitate and said..bring him here. He can stay with us and finish the semester. You need to know at that time they lived in a very small house and had three kids of their own, but this is who they are. Humble, giving, servicing people. Jonathan lived with them for several months and then decided to come back home. The Kellers visited us while Barry was gone….were there when he returned from the war and always, always were there for me to talk, laugh, cry and pray. They were the people in our will who we would have left our children with if we had died while are children were minors.

Then fast forward to 1997 and we found out we were returning to Florida from Belgium. Now our kids were in college. We built a home in Tampa and I returned to work at Northside Christian. This time I was the Director of the Preschool and Tom was the Middle School Principal and Jennifer taught Math in the High School. Then the Headmaster was called to a new job in another state and I was approached to be the Interim Head of School. NOT exactly what I had on my agenda for the next two years, but God orchestrated the circumstances for me to take the job. I had three principals working for me. Tony in the Elementary, Tom in the Middle School and Larry in the High School and thus began our friendship with the Websters. Patti had been teaching at the school for many years by then, and I knew her casually, but now our families were brought together through my new job and that of Larry’s. We all gathered regularly for cards and Trivia Pursuit. Rachael graduated from College and moved to Fl and joined in. Jonathan met Jamie and they became engaged. It was a good time…UNTIL…the school had a very serious personnel crisis and I learned what it meant to be in the job where the ‘buck stops’ and have to take on the burden of the leadership seat. During those most difficult months the Kellers and Websters and Hornings and the Willeys grew closer than I could ever have imagined outside of my military families going through a wartime situation. It was without a doubt the most difficult period in my professional life. Had it not been for the prayers of many and the unwavering support of these great friends and my family I would not likely have made it.

By the time we moved away and came to Northern Virginia in 1999 the Kellers and the Websters and the Willeys were connected for life. Our daughter lived with both families as she transitioned after our moving to VA. Joy Webster moved here and lived with us for awhile. Our families shared holidays and many trips back and forth to DC for them and FL for us.

So when I finally realized that retirement was something I could see myself doing it didn’t take long to know that being back with these amazing people was the right place to be. AND we have the added BLESSING of being near our children and grandchildren who all life in Florida.

In the past few months we found the house we wanted to buy and found out we actually could buy it and not have to sell our VA house right away. We were able to have our daughter move in to the house and take care of it until we move down summer of 2018.

The evening we closed on the house of course we had the Kellers and the Websters over as our first guests….and with our daughter and Realtor we had a toast to celebrate our DREAM becoming a REALITY. And for those few short days we ate together, laughed together and even had our wonderful daughter-in-law and two amazing grandsons come over for a day…and the boys were the first ones in the pool.

UnknownNow we’re back in Virginia and we have no regrets…no sadness….no ‘missing Florida’…for in good time we will be back, but for now we will capture all the moments we have left here with many fabulous friends, great jobs and the adventure God has for us….as we look ‘backward and forward’ and continue to life ‘In The Dash’…..

2 responses to “When a Dream becomes a Reality….

  1. Barry says:

    Amazing hon. You are gifted my dear.


  2. Chery says:

    Amazing! You both have been a blessing to many people over your lives. Just another stage for to to bless others. Looking forward to being able to see you when you are here.


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