After needing to relocate my parents and sell the cherished oceanfront home on Rowley Shore (the stuff of childhood dreams), life went on. However the emotional ties with that special place lived on inside of us. Our family loved to head to the beach in the summer and it was difficult to head out to the various beaches on the north side of Ipswich Bay...as we could gaze across the ocean and see the distant Gloucester shoreline where the Rowley Shore home still sat. It literally called out to our senses. Eleven long years went by and then lo and behold, a mini-miracle occurred! It went something like this: My mom was in a wonderful up-scale assisted living facility and I picked her up for a Sunday afternoon drive. “Where would you like to go” I said, “I don’t care” she replied, “just somewhere pretty”. So I said...”how about we go visit the Rowley Shore house in Gloucester, which we haven’t been to in years?”. “I’m not sure I can do that” she said. Whereupon I made a decision to go for it and said...”Oh come on, let’s go say hi to the house, have a little cry together and show it our love”. So that’s what we did and when we got to the turn in for Rowley Shore I noticed a real estate open house sign with an arrow on a roadside telephone pole. Well...would you believe that after eleven years, that we had stumbled upon the first day of an open house to sell our beloved Rowley Shore home...by the very family we had originally sold it to? Yep...miracles can happen right in one’s own back yard. My mom saw the open house sign by the Rowley Shore house and said “What’s happening?” I tried to downplay my emotions and just said “It looks like the house is for sale again”. I will admit that a re-purchase scenario jumped into my head immediately…but then again, my oldest son was being married the very next weekend, I had two other kids in college and my wife Margie was also back in College in Nursing School. Our family’s overall financial state to put it mildly was currently “a challenge”. So what to do?
I immediately went home and told my wife about it. Not having strong emotional ties to that home as I did, she was not impressed...we were also focused on the wedding the next weekend of our oldest son. The wonderful wedding came and went. The house on Rowley Shore sat idle, still for sale. We discussed the concept of trying to re-purchase the home and it did not go well, with our very real financial challenges of 3 different college bills to pay. I finally sat down with my wife, looked her in the eye and essentially said “You are the single most important thing in my life, so let’s just forget about the Gloucester home...it’s only a house, but you are my life”. She gazed back and said “you would do that for me?” and I replied “of course”. She paused and then said “well...why don’t you at least go ahead and make an appointment to walk through it with the broker, I know how much you loved it and that it’s your dream!” We had numerous other discussions, but in the end I did just that, called the real estate broker and a few weeks later found me literally standing outside the Rowley Shore home on a beautiful sunny day. By then the broker knew who I was and said “Frank, you know this house even better than I do...no one is inside, so why don’t you go ahead in by yourself and re-connect”…so in I went!
When one walks into his family’s old oceanfront summer home that was sold eleven years prior, under extreme emotional duress for the entire family, the experience is literally surreal. I never expected to be back in the home…as it was sadly gone from our collective lives’. I was all by myself as I entered the Rowley Shore home and was immediately inundated with childhood memories, with familiar sights and even the wonderful and comforting “smell” of the house. Overall the house was not in particularly good shape and needed cosmetic work and “fixin’”, but it was still the same dear friend. I was unprepared however for what was about to occur; in that I had never experienced before anything beyond nostalgic memories when reconnecting with the past. Thus, I headed up the stairway to the second floor, and literally as I stepped into the hallway, the hair went up on the back of my neck. It was clear as day, like black and white…I could feel my grandfather and father come up to me and embrace me. I immediately said right out loud “OK…I get it” and set my mind on trying to figure out how to buy the house back. The rest of the story is a myriad of boring financial details but in the end my wife and I went for it, mortgaged ourselves in great American fashion to the hilt and re-acquired our beloved Rowley Shore. We firmly believe that this entire episode in our lives was a miracle of sorts, wrapped tenderly in our faith in each other and in God. We do not take it for granted and begin every day with a sincere thank you. Oh…and what happened with my mom? We surprised her just after we closed on the sale (which we had kept quiet until then in case it didn’t go through) and took her out for another drive, on of all days Mother’s Day! We parked, got her up to the backdoor with her walker and told her we had just bought the house back. She simply leaned her head against the door and started to cry. We cried with her. It was one of those unforgettable moments in life…the incredible saga of the Rowley Shore home.