The long goodbye.

Dear friends,

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Six years ago this week, my mother died after a brief illness. A couple of weeks later, Mr. Mom and I went to Colorado for a trial involving our mountain dispute. Both experiences were traumatic in their own way.

And while experts advise you never to make a major life decision in the wake of trauma, I did just that. Shortly after returning from Colorado, I announced to Mr. Mom that I wanted to re-make my life. A month later, with my family’s support, I put our dream home in “Mayberry, OK” on the market and began searching for job opportunities in other states.

A lot has happened since then . . . much of it chronicled on this blog. One thing that didn’t happen, however, was the sale of our home in Mayberry (which I dubbed “Magpie Manor” in a nod to my nickname and the home’s grand style).

I could go on and on about why our home didn’t sell, but it probably suffices to say our handicap as remote landlords combined with irresponsible renters who kicked in doors and broke windows and (yes, this part is true, brandished firearms when we sent repairmen to deal with problems they initiated) set up some pretty difficult conditions. It probably suffices to say that those conditions were compounded by the fact that we purchased the home at the peak of the housing bubble and were forced to sell, post-crash,  in an economically depressed county.  A little over a year ago, while visiting my father before his death, I dropped in on our renters and found a barnyard animal in my living room. To say I was distressed about the condition of our home is an understatement. I remember calling Mr. Mom after I drove away and wailing through my tears “Our home will never sell with a pig in it!”

For the longest time I have felt like the poster child for the fall-out of the housing crisis, with one important exception: we have managed to hang on financially.  There are so many times I wanted to simply walk away and let the bank foreclose, but I didn’t for a variety of reasons, some noble, some practical.

But last spring I had a mini-meltdown and declared to Mr. Mom that we would sell by the end of August or walk away. I drew a line in the sand, as unwise as that tactic usually is. I called the realtor and told her to slash the price to whatever would sell.

The good news is, we sold. We are finally, mercifully, released from the burden of a second mortgage on a home far away.

The bad news is we sold at a substantial loss. And I’m not just talking about an equity loss. I’m talking about writing a big, fat check at closing just for the privilege of saying goodbye (where big and fat equals a shocking percentage of my annual salary).

But as much as this sale represents a major financial set-back and heartbreak I won’t soon forget, I can’t help but remember everything wonderful and good and magical about the big white house on the brick-paved street that my family called home for five years. I can’t help but think about the new owners and hope they will love and care for Magpie Manor as much as I did.

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Will they love its broad porch and view of a main thoroughfare through “Mayberry?”

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Will they love the original oak floors and trim, and stately french doors with beveled glass?

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Will they love the grand living room with its gigantic front windows and 12-foot ceilings?

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Will they love its cozy kitchen with more outrageously sized windows and an abundance of natural light?

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Will they love the original chandelier that I carefully relocated from the dining room to the downstairs bathroom and fastidiously polished during the time we lived there?

Will they love the sun room with its Southern exposure, and the mudroom with its charming brick floor, and the basement with its rustic “coal room” tucked in the corner, and the study with its built-in desk, and the four spacious bedrooms, one in each corner of the house with incredible views? Will they scrub the home’s porch and polish its floors and tend to its yard? Will they care for its carriage house and bask in the charm of its historic style? Will they host big parties and give everyone a tour because the home deserves adoring eyes? Will they breathe easier when they walk in the door because there is no better place to be than the big white house on the brick paved street?

My heart can’t imagine any answer but yes. To the new owners: we loved the big white house with all our hearts and souls. We wish it — and you — good fortune and Godspeed.

With gratitude {for a path through . . . long and trying though it was},

Joan-Marie, granddaughter of Cren and Marie, friends to the big white house’s original owner, Billie B., a dapper man who must’ve loved the home’s style as much as he loved the crisp, seersucker suit and straw boater he wore when he posed for a photo on the front porch, circa 1925.

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Comments

  1. It’s a beautiful adieu, Joan-Marie. I hope you share it with the new owners.

  2. Brooke Frick says:

    I absolutely loved your magpie manor and getting to spend so many memories with Kate there!

  3. Juanita Clark says:

    I am thankful you and your family experienced Magpie Manor and Nowata.

  4. Such a beautiful home and you served it well.

  5. When does a home or a garden cease to belong to a former owner? Surely such a long term and loving relationship cannot cease with the filing of paperwork… You have given us an eloquent farewell and love note to this stately home. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping the new owners find their own ways to love the place. Fare thee well, Magpie Manor!

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