Together, my nephew and I proved the rest of the family wrong. He was mostly an A student and won awards in high school. When he realized how much I was struggling to support the both of us, he got a job after school to help with the finances. We are the best of friends.
Living in the big city proved beneficial to the store and to my parents. When the alarm was triggered at the store – I was only 10 minutes away. Here, the police make the contact person go into the business first when there is an alarm ringing. They follow bravely behind with their guns and their handcuffs. Our store was highly sensored because of the fur coats and sometimes anyone walking in the mall would set it off. I hated those calls.
One day I got the call that we had been robbed. When I arrived I found a trail of fur coats that went from inside our store and out into the mall and then through the store next to us. I had noticed two suspicious looking males in the store during the previous week and had asked them point-blank what they wanted. 32 fur coats later – I knew. While I was at the police station giving them a description – my mother was having a heart attack. I kept calling her to see how she was doing and became suspicious of her actions. After leaving the police station, I raced out to the farm with my cousin and nephew and found her collapsed. My father was angry with her at the time and hadn’t spoken to her in three months, so he was ignoring her and had gone out to the fields. We took her into the hospital where she remained for a week. My father was angry with me for living with my cousin and he wasn’t talking to me either – but I called him from the hospital and let him know what I thought of his actions. It didn’t help our situation but he didn’t leave my mother’s side while she was in the hospital.
When the end of my first year’s rent was approaching, I decided I had had enough of paying a stranger’s mortgage. Working for a family business often means you do it out of love instead of financial gain. My wages were the just above the bare minimum and I was putting my growing nephew through high school. The cousin had gone off to live with a girlfriend and I was scraping by paying the last couple months of rent. However, I was determined to find something to call my own again. I paid a visit to the real estate agent located in the mall and gave them an outline of what I was looking for. In a couple of days they came back with a stack of listings and I eagerly went through them with my Mom. At the end of the work day, my mother and I would grab my nephew and off we would go to drive around and look at the houses. I had narrowed it down to what I could afford and it took us outside the big city. I just couldn’t afford to pay the asking price and the taxes that went with big city living.
We drove north and looked in the next town at some lovely old houses and then south to look at what I considered being typical prairie homes. Then I went looking for an agent to take us through the homes I wanted to look at. When I presented him with the listing for the barn he laughed and told me I didn’t want to see in it – it was for hippies or druggies. I went looking for another agent. This turned out to be one of our regular customers and we hit it off right away. We looked through the home in the town to the north and it just didn’t do it for me. Then we headed south and looked through some incredibly small and ratty houses and I was getting discouraged. But when we pulled into the driveway of the barn – I heaved a big sigh.
The picture I show here on the blog is the picture that was on the real estate listing. My agent had done some research and found the barn had sat empty for four years as it needed an enormous amount of work and it scared everyone off. With that in mind, the four of us entered with a fair amount of trepidation. What we found would have scared off anyone in their normal state of mind. What my mother said was ‘You can do this – I know you can.’ Every wall inside the house was covered in cedar shingle. The ceiling was falling down in the main living room and there wasn’t a kitchen. The appliances sat in the middle of the bare pressboard floor and there was not a cupboard to be found. Shag carpeting covered every floor except for the dining room. There was a sign on the patio doors that led out onto the second floor deck that said – Do not open – deck unsafe. It was dirty and smelled.
I stood and looked out through the patio doors at the giant pine trees and thought of our fishing lodge in northern Ontario. I looked past the enormous amount of work and saw the uniqueness of the building – and I knew I had to have it. What I was going to do with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms was beyond me. I didn’t have furniture to fill 3,000 sq. ft. But I didn’t care. I wanted to live here.