I made a shift last week. A shift in the way I think and possibility in the way I feel. I became a homeowner again. I took the plunge and signed hundreds of white pages of bland, boring documents that will lock me down in debt for the next 30 years, if I so desire. Before the signing of these documents, I located, scanned and emailed my life history over the past two years in order to qualify for the opportunity and privilege to sign these documents. As a homeowner, I’m responsible for securing, and maintaining a safe physical environment while obeying the neighborhood rules and the county’s requirements. To say the least, it’s quite a responsibility. A responsibility that I truly never saw transpiring in the last 5 years since I had to move from the home I shared with my late husband.
My former home was in a beautiful, older neighborhood in a community of original residents. Most of these residents moved in the neighborhood because it was built in the ‘70’s by an African-American developer that sought decent houses for people “redlined” in the city. So he built those wonderful large homes and it became a haven for professional African Americans. We lucked out and found a house for sale and without hesitation, put a purchase offer on it, knowing that others would quickly discover this jewel of a house. We spent 20 wonderful years in that neighborhood enjoying my spacious gardens and large trees. A neighborhood without backyard fences,that encouraged me to cross over and chat with neighbors on either side of our lot. We relished being a part of an established, settled neighborhood, with generations of kids growing up and providing the next generation of grandkids a safe place to ride and play.
Then tragically in 2015 I became a statistic. One of those widows left struggling financially after my husband died suddenly. Research says over 72% of widows are left challenged financially, with either less money or less financial skills to accurately handle the influx of financial decisions. I was left with both situations, as my husband handled all the finances and I was left with 2/3 less monthly income.
Over the past 5 years, I have found “reluctant refuge” in a rented townhouse in a nice neighborhood not far from our other house. A neighborhood with fences and people quickly entering their homes to avoid eye contact and discussions. A neighborhood with assigned parking spaces and homeowner association rules to help keep everyone civil. While extremely thankful for being able to safely grieve in this townhouse, I so, so miss my former home. The neighbors, the block parties, my wonderful, beautiful flowering gardens, all within the safety of others.
In September, my landlord suggested I look into purchasing the rented townhome. After all, I had lived peacefully in the past 5 years, tending to every possible leaks, hole and situation. Although I treated it like my own, no way did I allow myself the luxury of “being permanent” with residential roots. In my mind, I am still a wounded, uprooted widow, living on the verge of what ever tragic event comes my way. Truly, I didn’t even think I could qualify for a mortgage loan, as I had lost so much stuff and my financial situation had changed. But as God would have it- I did qualify and to my unbelief, I became another homeowner! My Christmas gift to my daughter and me. A place we can call home. No packing, no moving, no resettling- just a mind shift to an owner. Five years to the month we moved in as renters.
I know my husband would be proud to know I settled into a good neighborhood, intent to make new roots with nice neighbors in a safe home. I believe it will continue to be my refuge in a troubled world. Sure I miss my old neighborhood, but that’s the past and I will always have those memories. Now I’m going to make different memories, uphold past family transitions and be thankful we have an address to call our own.