My new happy place: back in the family again

Friday, October 5, 2012

I want to introduce you to a very special place today.

This is the place I will now start referring to as "my happy place."

Everyone should have a happy place. A place you can go to feel at peace, to relax, to feel that all's right with the world. Whether that place is a mansion on the beach, a coffee shop, or a corner of a room in your apartment. The important thing is to identify where this place is for you. And try to go there often.

The story of my new happy place is pretty amazing.

You probably know by now that I am originally from Florida, and my family on my mom's side has been there forever. Like 7 generations (actually 8 now...). Honestly. And Florida peeps love the beach and lakes and all that jazz. But we Floridians also have a soft spot for cold-weather locales and mountain retreats because those are the places that we do not have anywhere in the Sunshine State. So it's not totally uncommon for Florida folks to have vacation homes in Colorado, or Maine, or North Carolina.

North Carolina. That is where my great-grandfather Frank built a vacation home when my mom was a little girl. He and his wife, Reeda, built a charming mountain retreat in the early 1960s and loved that home. They came to visit whenever they could. Their grandkids (including my mom) loved the house with its peaceful mountain views and dirt road straight uphill and windows that could be flung open to let in the crisp mountain air.

But he sold the house in the 1970s, as he was getting older and so were his grandchildren. My mom was about 13 when he sold her happy place, and this is a place she has spoken of so many times. I have heard her refer to her 10-year-old self as "Heidi" (yes, the little Bavarian girl) when she would throw open the window in the morning to reveal the gorgeous view from her loft window. And all the stories of lazy summer days in that house with her grandfather, and of playing with the kids in the small town who were her friends, if only for a summer. The good stuff that great childhood memories are made of.

My great-grandfather has been gone for years, and my grandparents couldn't remember the name of the town where the house was and neither could my mom. So in essence, "Granddaddy's Cabin" was somewhere, but we didn't know where, or how to get there, or if it even still was.

Now let's fast-forward about 40 years. My mom and step-dad had been talking about buying a vacation home in the mountains so they can have a place near Alex and I, and a mountain retreat away from the Florida heat.

This summer, they were driving through the mountains in NC, about 45 minutes from where A & I live. A sign for Saluda, NC caught mom's eye. She thought it sounded familiar. Curious, they drove into the town, and she was certain it was the town where her grandfather's house had been.

They ventured into the little general store and started asking around to see if anyone remembered my great-grandfather. No luck. Oh well, it was a longshot anyway.

But then...someone said they knew someone who knew someone (or something...) and anyway, this person led them to a woman who not only was one of the kids that my mom used to play with as a child, but is the current mail carrier for the house and knew exactly where to take them. To the house that was my great-grandfather's.

After driving up a mountain not far from the little downtown area, they pulled up at a cabin, and yes. It was the house. Only it was slightly larger (an owner along the way had added on), but it definitely was Granddaddy's Cabin.

They knocked on the door. The owner was home. She thought they were lost. Mom explained the story. The owner invited them in to look around for old-times-sake. For the first time through adult eyes, Mom saw the house that had given her so many memories another lifetime ago.

And here is where it gets good. The owner said she was planning to put the house on the market the very next week. 

If that's not a totally-meant-to-be, can-only-be-God thing, I don't know what is. 

Today at 1pm, my mom is getting her Happy Place back. And I am getting a new one. 

I am beyond thrilled for my mom - she has just been beside herself with excitement since this whole thing began. It's also completely amazing to me that this house is a quick 45-minute drive from my front door, meaning I might get to see my momma a lot more often!

I'm looking forward to many years of making memories there, and reliving all the things mom experienced as a kid. And I hope my future kids will have the opportunity to make their own memories there, in the house their great-great-grandfather built.

The view from the back porch -- my happy place
Many more pictures - and memories - to come.

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