By Joe Rector

Eight years ago, Amy and I sold one condo we had in Bellevue and followed our daughter’s family to Hendersonville. After looking for a place in which we could be comfortable, our realtor found a condo that was perfect except for the fact that it was in Gallatin. We decided that being seven miles from Lacey wasn’t that bad and purchased the place.

To say the place was in poor condition was an understatement. Dogs had ruined the carpet and baseboards with “accidents.” I tore it out, scrubbed the concrete slab, and installed vinyl plank flooring throughout, the first time I’d ever attempted any major renovation. I next painted the place and resurfaced the countertops. The foul smells were gone, and we came to enjoy our time with our kids and grandson.

Whenever we made a trip to our condo, we tried to find something for Madden to do. On spring breaks, we spent time with him while his parents were working. Madden liked having his days filled with activities and being able to sleep in his own bed at night. We were just glad to have time with him. Of course, sharing a meal and talking with Lacey and Nick were bonuses.

Something strange happened during every visit. I’d sit down after unloading the car and find my eyelids almost impossible to keep open. Before long I’d be napping in the recliner. Even during times that I was awake, a sense of relaxation washed over me. Our trips to this condo were the same as vacation trips. The hubbub of daily life never entered the days. Amy felt the same way and bought a sign that declared the condo as “our beach house.”

We made friends first with Lois, whose condo was directly across the street. She was helpful when we needed a repairman and friendly when we saw each other. At some point, Fred and Laura moved into the unit across an open area. It was with their becoming neighbors that this place became special. Fred and I hit it off immediately. He always has great stories to tell, and he keeps up with the current affairs of Gallatin. Our political views aren’t exactly in line, but that never has driven a wedge in our friendship.

Covid hit Fred hard. He lost his hearing from the damn virus. His most recent problems are due to a terrible year of allergies and a cold. I worry about him and say a prayer for his recovery. He’s tired of feeling bad, and I know how that feels and how it affects life.

The one thing we all can count on is change. Over the last eight years, Madden has grown up and is now 14. He still loves his grandparents, but friends and video games are more interesting. We don’t need a place when we visit Lacey anymore. A motel room or B&B are good enough. We pay HOA fees and utilities and upkeep for a place we visit once a month, not necessarily a wise financial move.

We’ve had good memories in this condo, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done on it. The worst part of this move, besides having to strain every muscle in my body in packing and loading a truck, is leaving Fred and Laura. Good friends are hard to come by, and saying goodbye is full of hurt. We’ll travel to see Lacey and family, and we’ll make a special effort to stop by to see our friends as well. I do hope this is the last move I have to make. I’m too old to hoist furniture and pack boxes and lose friends.