Back to New England!

 I stayed at the Steamboat until early in 2002.    We
had made a trip back to North Adams a year or two earlier &
Rich really fell in love with my little hometown!!   He said it was
charming!!    Charming???     I had lots of adjectives for that
little mill town, but somehow charming never came up!!
But Richard was totally taken with it.    He’d retired in 1999 and
the idea of living in such a “charming little town” really
resonated with him!    But, we had a bought a sweet little brick
house a few years ago in Winston-Salem…..couldn’t relocate anywhere
till we sold it.     We tried everything, but the market wasn’t exactly
booming….even back ‘then!
So I told Rich, we’ll pray about it —–if God wants us up there,
He’ll make a way!     So I did, and He did!!  
I’d recently switched jobs and was working at Wal-Mart.   
Didn’t really know anyone yet, but one afternoon, I’m sitting in
the break  room and here comes Lewis, my supervisor.   Out of a
clear blue sky he asked me if it was true that I had a house I was
trying to sell.    I know my mouth fell open!   “How’d you know?”  
He just grinned,  “Grapevine is a wonderful thing!!”     Anyway,
I called Rich and said, “I guess the Lord wants us in New
England!!”   Major God wink!
Lewis didn’t buy the house, but he ended up leasing it from
us for 5 years.    Long enough to enable us to go up north and
decide if we were going to stay or come back!!
One of our reasons for wanting to go north was our granddaugh-
ter Lauren….Richard’s son had decided they were going to
move to the West Coast where the work situation was better.
 
My kids were old enough to travel  to where we were, but
the prospect of having our little “princess” so far away was sad.   
But it also meant that it didn’t really matter if we were in NC or
New England!   So away we went!      And what a time we had!!
We stayed with one of my girlfriends for a few months until we
found ourselves an apartment.    I transferred to a Walmart up
there just one town over from where we lived and in between 
shifts I had a ball showing Rich all the places I’d been telling
stories about all these years.
 And of course, all my old friends, fell in love with him —
couldn’t believe I’d found someone as classy and distinguished
as him!!  Lynn, my best friend since I was 12, flat out told me,
“He’s amazing….you screw this up and I’ll shoot you!!”   LOL!!
Once we got settled, we started house-hunting in a big way.   We
were both convinced, because of the Lewis Godwink, that the
Lord really intended us to stay up there.    But for some reason,
every house we looked at or we were interested in, developed
some kind of “issue”.
One ended up having major structural problems…..the next
one was for sale, but tied up in probate, one was taken off the
market as soon as we made an offer….etc.    We spent most of
2003 and part of 2004 being disappointed time after time!    
Just couldn’t figure out what God had in mind!  But I knew if
we’d just have patience He’d make it clear and we’d have our
answer!
One thing we did do up there was finally decide to take the
plunge & get married;  something we’d carefully avoided our
entire relationship!    Rich was concerned about leaving me
financially secure if he should pass away and he told me over
and over again that I could live nicely on HIS social security IF
I was his wife….the federal government was not going to be
impressed with how much we loved each other or how long
we’d been together or what our living arrangements used to
be!   If I wasn’t married to his wife when he died they’d make
sure I’d not see a penny of his Social Security.   
Now a bit of advice to any women out there who have decided
to make waitressing their life’s work:    Have a back up plan,
ladies….because if you work for tips your entire career?   Your
social security benefits, when the time comes, will be nothing
to write home about!    You won’t be able to keep a houseplant
alive on what the government gives you because it’s based on
your paycheck…NOT your tips!!
First thing we had to do was dissolve my marriage to Buddy
which was still intact after all these years.   The good news was,
after placing a call to Ramsey, we discovered that a formal 
divorce wasn’t necessary because the marriage had never been
consummated.   All we’d need was an annulment (much cheaper).  
 
So as soon as that came through, we headed to Vermont one
Saturday morning just to see where the marriage license place
was and locate a JP so we’d have the info when we were ready!    
We located the correct office in Pownal, Vt.    Lady behind the desk
was very sweet and helpful….told us her cousin lived right down
the road and  she was retired, but still had her credentials as a JP
if wewere interested in getting married now.   NOW????
Rich looked at me and shrugged as if to say, “Why not now?”   I
was HORRIFIED!   Remember now, it was a Saturday morning-
I was dressed in old jeans, one of HIS flannel shirts, my hair,
pulled back into a ponytail,  needed a shampoo in the worst way
and here was the man of my dreams asking me if I wanted to go
get married….NOW!!   Horrified?  Yes…..Stupid?  No way—I’d
waited over 10 years for this moment so all I could say was
“Let’s do it!”
It definitely was a wedding to remember!    Armed with
directions from the records office lady to her cousin’s house
and her promise that she’d call ahead and let her know we
were coming, we took off to find this retired JP, giggling like
eloping teenagers!     We found her house and she was indeed
waiting for us at the door!    Didn’t take us long to find out just
WHY the dear woman had retired.   
Uncle Alzheimers was obviously her roommate although she
was as sweet as could be!   Kept forgetting why we were there but
insisted on making us tea!    Then we had to undertake a major
search for her “book” which she hadn’t used since she retired—
that took almost an hour!     Finally, when we got down
to business, she had trouble remembering our names!    She
almost married Diane to Robert until we got her straightened
out!      That’s how I became, at last, Mrs. Richardson!!
Then, just a few weeks later, God answered our question as to 
whether we should stay where we were or return to Dixie  
when Rich’s son called and told us that they’d decided NOT to
go out west!   They were staying in Charlotte!!     GRRRRR!    
Now we had a decision to make—would we stay up north or
go back south to watch our precious princess grow up?     
Obviously, since all our plans to buy a house up there had
fallen through,the Lord wanted us back in Dixie.
 I told Rich that God knew what we didn’t—that’s why all those
houses fell through!  If we’d bought a house, we would’ve HAD
 to stay in New England….this way we still had a choice, stay
or go!   Another Godwink!!!
We decided to go back even though we’d be returning to no
house….our lease with Lewis on the house in Winston still had
3 years to run.  
But after some very involved phone calls back and forth, it was
decided that we’d stay with Ricky and Dawn and the princess
until we found a place, so in September of 2004 it was back to
Dixie!
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