As we count down the last week in our Richmond Hill, GA house my mind is flooded with memories. I wish I could say that they've been good memories, but the reality is that there aren't many. Aaron and I joke that we've had a cloud over us since we moved to GA. I tend to be an optimist, but in this case my memories just aren't that happy. We were excited to come to Savannah after hearing about all the history and places to visit. We were relocating from Ft. Gordon (Augusta, GA) to Ft. Stewart and were able to drive down over several weekends to house hunt. This was going to be a routine stop until the next PCS (for those of you non-military this translates to "permanent change of station"), but this relocation was anything but routine. Our lives were about to change drastically and nothing could prepare us for it.
One day while house hunting, we came across a house on a large corner lot with a lot of trees and privacy. We had always lived in one story homes, but Aaron was drawn to this house (see photo above) and wanted to check it out. So, we pulled over to the side of the road to write down the information to call about the house. While we had our windows down and were checking out the house, a bunch of gnats came into the car, not just annoying gnats but biting gnats. In Savannah they are called Sand Gnats and they are out anytime the weather is mild (that means almost year round in the South). I was really annoyed by these bugs, but tried to ignore them. I should've seen this as a sign to keep on driving right past this house!
Well, we didn't. We bought it...and this old house became our new house.
Six months after moving in, Aaron had his back surgery. If you've read the previous posts then you know that Aaron was paralyzed during surgery. Imagine a 2 story house, elevated 3 feet of the ground due to being in a flood zone and 6 steps leading up to the front door. Think about what kind of accessibility issues that creates. I'll never forget the VA sending me home, while Aaron was inpatient, with a piece of paper showing what adaptations would need to be done in order for Aaron to come home and get around the house. What a joke. Since when did I become a contractor? I asked Aaron's command for help and they were anything but helpful.
Thank God for great neighbors. Two separate neighbors helped me widen the downstairs doorways, build a ramp into the house and adapt the bathroom into a bath/shower. These adaptations were meant to be temporary. What we didn't know then is that we would be stuck in this house for 5 long years. Our dream home had become Aaron's prison. He couldn't get out the front door due to a step, he couldn't get around the yard and he couldn't get upstairs, which is where the Master bedroom and all the storage space is located. Now, imagine your home. Got it? Now imagine that you can only access the kitchen and bathroom. How does that feel? Now imagine that being your life for 5 years. Everyday Aaron has had to face the reality of what he couldn't access in his own home. Frustrating to say the least.
This is what our history in this house looks like: Aaron was paralyzed, he was overdosed on medications due to lack of follow up care when he came home, he was denied his TSGLI (the Army payout you're supposed to receive when you have a traumatic injury), his military career ended, 3 of our pets passed away, we were denied a move by the military to be closer to medical care which would have made us eligible for the HAP, I lost my job and I was diagnosed with lung cancer resulting in losing half my right lung.
You may be thinking, "Something positive must have happened during all that time. Not everything can be bad." Well, you're right we did have some good mixed in there. So, it's with bittersweet feelings that we say goodbye to Richmond Hill, GA. When you live somewhere for 6 years you meet so many people that become part of your daily routine and there are so many good people in our community that I will miss dearly.
Thanks to the ladies (Kenitia, Jamie, Diana and Shavon) at the Parker's convenience store where I get my daily 32oz Diet Coke with chewy ice, Bill and Gail at the Ice Cream Stop (thanks for the logo hat), the staff at Publix (Frank and Jeanette who always have a smile and friendly thought to share), my PCM Dr. who always had a joke or two to tell me and my hairstylist who knows how to cut my short hair so I don't look like a boy! To all of the soldiers at the gym on HAAF, thanks for helping Aaron in the gym when he lifts weights. We are going to miss the military camaraderie. Being around all of you keeps me grounded and focused on what is important in life.
Thanks to the neighbors that helped me adapt the house and helped with other household maintenance that I had to learn after Aaron's injury (that's you Ken and Joey). A special shout out to Ken for rescuing Aaron when he tried to push mow our 1/2 acre lot in his wheelchair. Aaron was determined to do the things he did pre-injury. Remember when I mentioned being overdosed on med's? This is what happened while I was traveling with my job! A special thanks to my best friend, Dawn, who listened to me for hours on end crying after Aaron's injury. She never complained or expected anything in return. Without all of these wonderful people, my days would have been unbearable. Many of these people were there for me during some of my lowest days. Sometimes we forget how much a smile or offer to help can change someone's day. So, it truly is with sadness in my heart that I say goodbye to this old house, even with all the sadness that came while we lived here. Goodbye GA.
Here's to Texas...our next and final military move. New house, new memories and a fresh start!