In February 1956, George and I moved into a little honeymoon apartment. It was located above a garage on a quiet, tree-lined street in Ft. Worth, Texas. Paneled in knotty pine, the cozy place was a charming spot to begin our lives as Mr. and Mrs... except for one problem.
The son of the family often came home at midnight. Ignoring the newlyweds sleeping just above his car's parking spot, he noisily opened the overhead garage door.
The racket of the big slab bumping along its track beneath our bed, was followed by the roar of the car motor and the slamming of the car doors. The event never failed to get our attention.
But our stay in the apartment lasted only a few months. By summertime, we found a small house with blue morning glories at the door. It seemed to be a perfect change of address for two lovebirds.
The place quickly taught us the truth of the old real estate adage of "location, location, location." We hadn't realized the cute little house was just blocks from a railway switching yard with non-stop activity all night. George was especially unimpressed.
Within a year, we decided to head north to be nearer his family in Pennsylvania. So it was that we changed our Texas address for a delightful three-bedroom place in a quiet Erie suburb.
The house served as the Schenk home for more than a decade. Through the years, George creatively customized every corner to fit our growing family, which eventually included three little ones.
In 1969, we fell in love with Findley Lake, New York and bought a beautiful wooded piece of land for our dream home.
During the long and exhausting construction phase, the five of us lived in a vintage camper in front of the building site.
George designed the chalet-style home and he and I worked side-by-side and block-by-block to build it. At last, with snow beginning to fly, we moved into the house, still very much a work in progress.
In 1970, George realized another long-held dream, he bought the local hardware store. For eight years George and I were Mr. and Mrs. Hardware, working together to grow the business.
In the late 1970s, the economy hit a slump and we sold the business. And, in the 1980s, with daughters Becky and Sherri out on their own, we moved to Mayville. The family of five was now a threesome: George and myself and son Tim.
Before long, we established a new life pattern. George worked in Mayville Hardware spring through fall and, each winter, we traveled to Punta Gorda, Florida, joining the annual parade of folks leaving the snow for the sunshine.
By 2003, the long trips between New York and Florida became too demanding and we made Punta Gorda our permanent home.
At last, we had one address year around.
Although the winds of Hurricane Charley blew our Punta Gorda house away in August 2004, we quickly replaced it. George's well-loved sailboat lived at the dock in the back canal and the neighborhood was filled with friendly folks. We lived happily in our little piece of paradise for 15 years.
But last fall, my healthy husband began feeling ill. Always thinking ahead, George finally convinced me it was time to downsize into a home with less upkeep.
So last February, we sold the sweet little home on the water and moved into "the Nest," our lovely fourth-floor rental condo. The change meant George had no more maintenance chores. He finally felt we could handle the future.
Sadly, his health problems became more and more serious. In August, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Last week, my beloved husband and best friend, lost his valiant battle with the disease. He made his final change of address, but for the first time, he moved on without me.
Back in 1956, when we exchanged our vows, we promised our love would last "till death do us part." But we both knew our love would have no end.
I'm certain my George will be waiting to welcome me when, somewhere down my road of life, it's my turn to make that final change of address.