A Brand New Start

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I have been marveling at what my daughter accomplished this past year. Last winter she, her family and I were living in Port Huron, Michigan. She couldn’t find a job, for the local economy is depressed. My son-in-law had a job he detested, with no possibility of finding a better job. I lived in a senior citizen complex near their rental home, staying alone in my room unless my daughter was visiting me. Nobody was very happy.

It became painfully clear that my daughter and s-i-l had to move and set up new lives. Since I cast my lot with my daughter’s family when I sold my home in 2014, I would have to move too. The experiment of living in Michigan was mostly a botch.

Because my daughter was not working, she was the obvious person to do the research and planning necessary to make the move possible. But, oh my, what a fiendishly complicated task that would be.

Breaking this challenge down into smaller pieces, my daughter needed to:

  • Pick a new town and neighborhood to live in where all four of us (three adults, a kid and a large old dog) might be happy.
  • Find a new apartment or rental home where my daughter’s family could live, doing this research while living in Michigan, unable to look at rental properties in person. This would be especially difficult due to the shortage of affordable housing.
  • Find a senior living community for me. It had to be near her home near her new job . . . wherever they might be. Once again, my daughter had no way to visit the various facilities under consideration.
  • Find movers who could relocate two households 800 miles without charging much.
  • Devise a way to get three automobiles from Michigan to Minnesota, a feat complicated by the fact we had only two drivers.
  • Find a job for herself (a job near her new home and my new apartment, wherever they would turn out to be). This decision, too, had to be done without the benefit of a visit.
  • Find a job for her husband (or at least identify a process which he could follow to find one).
  • Find a great new school for her fourth-grade son.
  • Do all the physical work of boxing up two households for the move.
  • Clean her rental home and my apartment.
  • Accomplish all of this and make the actual move in less than three months.

I wonder if that list adequately reflects how complicated this was. The sixth item alone is daunting. Everything on the list was inextricably connected to all the other issues, which made the overall project extremely tricky. Each choice depended on several other decisions, and there seemed to be no obvious place to start.

My daughter was amused by how her research turned out. The Minnesota metro region emerged as the clear favorite for many reasons but especially its strong economy. St. Paul seemed the most attractive city in Minnesota. The most desirable place to live in St. Paul, her research said, turned out to be Highland Park. So my daughter’s search for the ideal place to move led her to exactly the neighborhood where she had grown up.

We made the move last June. I believe this is the most difficult my daughter has ever faced. As of the middle of January, 2020, every single item on the list has been met successfully. My daughter now lives in an apartment a few blocks from her childhood home (although serious house-hunting begins this spring). And everybody, even the old dog, is delighted to be here.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Have you ever discovered that you needed to make a brand new start?

60 thoughts on “A Brand New Start”

  1. Our daughter is starting a new job in a couple of weeks. It will be a new start in that she won’t be on call on weekends and won’t work nights. She is excited to have more of a normal work schedule .

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It’s a darned good thing, Steve, that your daughter is multi-talented, and was able to make this her full time job for several months. I’ve been in awe as you told us bits and pieces of this, what she was able to accomplish. (Would she like to hire out??)

    The hardest thing has been letting go of our son Joel, and we’re still working on that, but it’s easier now.

    Our brand new start was now 3 1/2 years ago, and was a bigger step than even we had imagined. We’re now glad we did it, but I would hesitate to do it again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One of the two hardest things I’ve ever done, BiR, is selling my home and moving to Oregon. You already know about that, because you were so generous about helping make that possible. Thanks again! Couldn’t have done it without you.

      Here’s hoping you are done with moves.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Happy birthday, Renee. Hope you have a wonderful day. Did you have ice cream for breakfast? It’s a sunny day here, not too cold, a perfect day to celebrate something, anything. Hope you find yourself in good spirits and a similar situation. Cheers!


  4. What was the hardest thing I have ever done? Can’t truly say, but leaving Carbondale in 1972 has to be right up there. With a marriage already in tatters, the national economy in the toilet, no job prospects anywhere, and only $600.00 to our name, we had to do something, anything. It was pure happenstance that we ended up in the Twin Cities. And slowly we chipped away at it, tackling each problem as best we could. Two years later the marriage was broken beyond repair, and I had another opportunity for “brand new start” to consider. Alternatively, another hard problem to face. Looking back, it was both.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. It was hard to leave Canada after living there for 6 years. Carter was the president when I moved to Canada, and Reagan was the president when I moved back to the States. We first moved to southern Indiana, which was a really different culture than anything I had experienced. After a year we moved to ND. We are starting to plan a departure from here in the next few years. That will be a change, but we will go back to an area that is familiar to me. I am sure many things have changed back home since I left in 1976, but it is still home.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I can’t claim anything as epic as Steve’ daughter’s accomplishment, but moving from our previous home to our current one was in some ways difficult. That house was as close to ideal for us as I can imagine, with plenty of room, a modern kitchen and a large yard that fronted on a pond. We had built extensive gardens, both a decorative one and a fenced vegetable garden and made substantial improvements to the house, as we always do.
    Unfortunately, the recession in the early 2000s dramatically impacted my work, which was centered on the publishing industry. We were afraid that maintaining the big house and yard would drag us down, and as it turned out many creative businesses with large fixed costs were crushed at that time. Our current house is smaller and we’ve gotten used to it but still think wistfully of the previous one.

    A more convoluted problem, but one that takes longer to relay is the challenge I faced dealing with the problems posed by my mother’s dementia and its aftermath. If I have time later, I’ll come back with the story of that.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Nice job on the post, Steve. Molly certainly had her work cut out for her. Glad everyone seems to be adjusting nicely. I’m wondering if her husband has been successful in finding meaningful work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, PJ. Yes, that was the last piece to fall in place. The plan was to make the move, let my daughter begin her new job, then have her husband start looking. He’s just completed three weeks on the job he found. He’s a manager in a firm that makes 3D printing machines. He just loves it so far.

      I suppose the real “last piece” will be finding a home to buy. They hope to do that this spring. That will be tricky, but maybe not as daunting as some challenges already met. My grandson loves his school, which means they will be looking in a place geographically defined by the school, their jobs and my apartment. That is a limitation, but limits are maybe not as confusing to deal with as a big pile of unknowns.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve long thought that the US is the land of “new beginnings.” This society was, after all, largely shaped by folks who were born somewhere else who chose to move here (or was born elsewhere and forcibly transplanted here). That might explain why folks here feel free to ignore history and set out to invent new realities. That might be why we are so fond of “total makeovers.”

    The nation is currently led by a man who has supreme contempt for history. He is an ethical chameleon who easily alters beliefs, parties, institutions, friends, associates and wives. It is common elsewhere for the dead hand of the past to continue to define modern life. Here . . . not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To have “supreme contempt for history” you would have to know that history, and frankly, I don’t think he does. I do agree that even if he did, it wouldn’t deter him from ignoring it. I shall spare you my rant of what I really think of him, but off hand I’d just say that using the word “ethical” in conjunction with him makes me gag.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. OT but amazing. It is currently 52° here. We have had bitterly cold temps earlier in the month. I just saw a small moth fluttering outside against the front door. How did it survive?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My birthday thus far has been lovely. We shopped early. took a nap. I heard from both children. I got chicken breasts marinating for Husband to grill tandoori chicken breasts, I made a north Indian vegetable curry, and now I am sipping on Veuve Cliqout while Husband cleans the grill and the basmati rice soaks. I have nothing to complain about.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I have made many “new starts”, but thankfully none in the last 20 years except for the new knee.

    When I was a child my parents had a period of time in which they lost everything. There are few stories like it. My parents were farming with my grandparents (dad’s parents) in Story County, Iowa where they had developed a herd of Stratton Shorthorns which were highly desirable. The herd started at dad’s 4-H project when he was age 10. HIs older cousin helped him develop it. 14 years later I came along, and dad was farming. His mother was diagnosed with colon cancer so he and grandpa sold the herd to pay for her medical treatment in 1954 and 55. He got a real job as herd manager at the Amanda Colonies, a job he did not like. So he became a County Extension Agent. Grandma died in 1955. Shortly after that my sister was born. She had mild RH factor which was left untreated. That affected her physical coordination most of her life. Then dad became symptomatic and had double vision. He was diagnosed with MS. Mom went back to work as a teacher in 1958. Shortly thereafter she was pregnant with my brother, who they knew would be an RH baby. In April 1959 she drove herself 40 miles, in labor to the hospital in Omaha where that hospital could treat RH, because dad could no longer drive. He was born, had a blood transfusion, and was healthy afterwards. Dad could no longer work.

    They moved to LeMars, Iowa, where they had gone to college so Mom could finish her teaching degree (up to that point schools only require 2 year degrees) while she taught. Grandpa, whose diabetes was affecting his health, moved in with us. He died in November, 1964. In that 9 years they lost they entire life they thought they had built, including dad’s health. They were able to establish a life in LeMars, but my mother never fully adjusted to the losses. Dad died of MS and diabetes in 1998 after 13 years in a nursing home. Mom is now 91 years old and lives in a Memory Care Unit in Ankeny, Iowa, near my siblings.

    I don’t know how they got through this, but it certainly affected all of us.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Winnipeg was a hot bed of RH factor research and treatment. I have no idea why. I am RH – and our children are RH+, but they were fine due to the medical advances from Canada. Your family’s story is a testimony to not giving up and pushing ahead no matter what

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Wow, Jacque, that’s tough. Really tough. Don’t know why everyone in this country can’t get onboard with the need for universal healthcare. The cost of the current system, or lack thereof, is too costly in human terms.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. Wow, Jacque. That’s an epic hardship story. I thought at first your family story was an ultimate example of what is wrong with US medicine, but a family hit by that many health challenges would struggle in any society. Here’s hoping your family’s luck on health stuff improves dramatically, starting now.


    4. I really don’t know if health insurance was even available to farmers in 1954 when grandma was ill. They did take her to Rochester, MN to the Mayo Clinic for treatment, which in the mid-fifties, was rudimentary. The other social programs, such as social security, were also inconsistent. Dad was so young when he stopped working that he did not pay enough quarters into Social Security to get any benefits. His boss at the Extension Service drove him everywhere for months so he could have enough time into the Civil Service system to get a small pension from that program.

      Losing dad’s parents seemed to be the critical factor. They were so beloved by anyone who met them. For years after all this, people would tell me stories of them. Grandma’s youngest sisters, who she launched into adulthood, stepped up to fill in with us for her and kept her memory alive. In so many ways there were sweet things people did and said, that helped so much.

      Auto-correct changed A-M-A-N-A to Amanda.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. Small potatoes compared to Steve’s daughter’s and Jacque’s stories but I wrote this hours ago and never got it posted.
    I am amazed by the resilience of Molly and Jacque’s family.

    Moving to Minnesota in 1973 (a year after PJ, apparently) was undertaken fairly lightly. Done with college, tired of living at home (in CT) and wanting a new start, I reviewed possibilities: Boston or St Paul (where I knew 4 people and had twice visited).
    I picked St Paul, arrived during a snowstorm, found an apartment quickly (no job, no references: those were the good ol’ days) and weathered some difficult, lonely times until I settled into my new home state.
    I was blasé at the time but I look back and am amazed that I was atypically (for me) brave.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Lisa’s last comment about being blaze made me think. Looking back on my own life, I now realize how many passages, fraught with peril, that I passed through with only minor anxiety, but full of hope and confidence. It’s only in retrospect that I recognize how little it would have taken for something to upset the whole apple cart.. Of course, there are also situations where, in retrospect, I wonder why there were obvious alternatives to the path I chose that never even entered my mind. For instance, when wasband and I separated, would have been a perfect time to move somewhere else, explore other possibilities. At the time I had no friends here, and my job at a local CPA firm was nothing to write home about. But, emotionally I was such a wreck that all I could muster the energy for was battening down the hatches so I could make it through the ordeal. There’s a lot of wisdom in Maya Angelou’s words: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi kids.
    Lots of pretty amazing new beginnings here. You all should be proud of yourselves!

    I get a lot of new beginnings but they’re pretty minor.
    Every time a show closes and we paint the floor black I feel like I get to start over. Every semester break I sit in the theater and talk with the room; lots of energy bouncing around in there and we both try to absorb it and help it find a place.
    And at home, every fall is wrapping up another year. Winter it rests and in the spring we get to try it again.
    I remember reading once that we get to try this only 30 or 40 times if we’re lucky. Which isn’t a lot when you think about it.
    Look at the challenges and all the various different things to try and compare that to the weather year to year and you’d want a 100 examples.
    But still, These cycles are huge to me.

    Lots of us are doing gardening and it’s the same thing.
    Or even meals or breads or baking. Every session is a new start.
    Course we’re armed with new knowledge each time and that’s pretty cool.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes! This year we are experimenting with peppers-Chimayo, Hatch, Spanish giants (sweet red ones) and Ajvarski, a sweet red roasting pepper from Macedonia. We are starting habaneros and Thai chili peppers for our son’s container garden.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. OT – I’ve been listening to a series of podcasts that I think may be of interest to at least a couple of baboons. The four-part series is called Freak Flag Flying and features David Crosby in conversation with his friend, author Steve Silberman. I find it fascinating, informative and entertaining. Here’s the link: https://tinyurl.com/tuenx59

    Liked by 2 people

  15. As of early October, I have been working hard at a fresh start. The challenge for me is to totally alter my lifestyle, taking advantage of the possibilities offered by my new home in this senior citizen community. As I talk about this to friends I refer to New Steve and Old Steve. Of course, for better or worse, New Steve resembles Old Steve in many ways. The carbohydrates Old Steve consumed live on as unwanted weight on New Steve. And yet, I’m trying to change as much as I possibly can.

    The guy who lived in a senior community in Michigan was asocial and pathetically inactive. He avoided all contact with staff or residents. His sedentary lifestyle meant that walking across the living room took effort and seemed like “exercise.” He dined alone in his room.

    Old Steve was a recluse spider who had not exercised in a decade, when RA and heart failure set in. New Steve is a social butterfly, relatively speaking, who participates in exercise classes every day at 9:30 and dines with friends each evening.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. While it’s true that today’s date is a palindrome date, it’s not true that it’s the first one in 909 years. Here are a couple of others: 10022001, and 01022010.

      Liked by 6 people

  16. while my family history is interesting my kids will talk about the tough crap they went through with an eccentric dreamer dad who kept trying big stuff instead of getting s 9-5 to pay the bills.
    2000 is when i took the nosedive and it is amazing to me hat i havnt figured it out in 20 years. its a little shaming foe me, a little want for a dope slap from my family.
    im working on business number 10 in those 20 years and i am hopeful that it will fly.

    the hardest start over foe me would be the one steve did where you turn over the reigns and say i’ll do what you suggest. i am a terrible backseat driver and need the steering wheel in my hands to make a success or failure out of and my family may point out how that has gone.

    life has a way of steering you in the direction thenstars want to steer you towards.

    those darn stars

    Liked by 5 people

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