Don’t remember why I started referring to her with such ownership, but that’s how she is listed in all my address books….for 45 years or so now.
Here’s how we met.
My 3 and 1/2 year old son, his father and I moved into my dream home; a rustic, elderly farm-ish house, complete with fenced pasture, a barn, a mini fruit orchard, and a mostly unfinished “grandma’s house” type basement.
Having barely escaped crowded Southern California only a few years before, the best part of finding this house in the eastern part of Bellevue (the 4th biggest city in Washington state) was that it still had a bit of the spacious country feel I was craving. I mean room it had for HORSES!!! There was still a trail along the side of our closest main arterial labeled “For Horses”.
A bunch of my dreams came true in buying this place.
Then, about 3 weeks later, my son’s father left, moving in with his receptionist….
I had no job, had not finished school and had expected to be a stay-at-home Mom for a bit longer. I kicked myself into high gear, scrambling to figure out how to keep my funky old dream house.
I figured that if I could rent out some of the extra space in the house, maybe to students at the community college right down the street, I could cover my expenses. So within a couple of months, I had built a two bedroom apartment in the basement, finished the basement “living room” space and updated (a bit) the roughed in vintage bathroom. I also created a make-shift “kitchenette” with mostly found and recycled stuff, including a 1930’s metal kitchen sink/counter I spotted while driving past an old apartment building being torn down. (I asked. They gave it to me.)
Now this may sound like it’s all about me, and so far it is, but what came next was one of the best things that’s ever happened in my whole life.
Enter; “My Carol”.
She was one of the first people who answered my desperate ad for housemates. Also a single mother, with her young, precious, blond, curly-headed daughter in tow. Newly returned to the area after a divorce, Carol had no job, and no prospects, and my better judgment screamed at me “NO! You need financial reliability!!”
Carol, in what I now know as her impeccably truthful way, stated quite firmly that she could pay the rent. I believed her.
I’m so glad I ignored that mistaken internal scream and listened to what my gut and heart were calmly stating. “She is the perfect renter!”
To shorten what has been a wonderful story of over 40 years of friendship and “family”, I’ll simply list the phrases that capture the events and details of one of my most important relationships, ever.
Shared single motherhood duties, watching that sweet tow-headed darling daughter, Lacey, grow. Carol meeting her beloved second husband Stephen while she lived here. Then her sister moving in when Carol was ready to move on, which started a chain reaction of Carol’s family members (sisters, brother-in-law, nieces, daughter, granddaughter…I’ve lost count now) each moving in, each needing a stretch of time in my basement (almost a right of passage), culminating in the full-circle joy of having Carol’s grown up sweetheart daughter Lacey, moving back in with HER own beautiful blond preschooler, Alexis.
Add to that, many shared life events; weddings, attending the birth of Carol’s son, countless family visits and holiday dinners, the deaths of our respective parents, numerous other heart-breaking and joyous times. And all these years, each of us in amazing parallel professions, from which, many, many times, she referred clients to my therapy practice.
In more recent years, as happens, our lives have become full enough of all that other stuff, that I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like to.
But on this day every year, I remember how very glad I am that My Carol was born, and that I trusted my heart all those years ago, and said “YES”!
Happy Birthday Carol. I Love You, big, BIG time!