I recently hosted the Winterfest Potluck Dinner in my condo community. Having just bought the home this past June, I was not only honored to host, but also thrilled to show off my farmhouse/country décor and have an opportunity to share fellowship and a plethora of tasty dishes with my new neighbors. Jellybean was in heaven! She received so much attention throughout the evening. By the time the festivities wound down and the house was still and quiet, Jellybean was ready to snuggle and catch up on her missed naps.
The next day I sent a text to a very dear friend, noting that the Winterfest gathering was a huge success. Just so you know, her mother is the former owner of the condo and also served as host for this particular celebration many times throughout her twenty some years in this condo. My friend was amazed at the timing of my message. She had just returned her mother to her new home, a local assisted living residence. It seems that on the ride home, her mother asked, “Does Bev still like living in my house? Does her little puppy like it too?” My friend was amazed at the clarity at which her mother spoke of both Jellybean and me, especially with the severity of her memory loss. She assured her mother that indeed we do love it here.
I was really touched by this. I have known Del and her family for years. When I was a classroom teacher, I babysat her grandchildren every summer and also many a Saturday night. Now that I am retired I babysit her great-grandson three days a week. Del’s daughter was also my hair stylist for over thirty years. Fast forward to this summer and I became the owner of the home that Del lived in and loved for over twenty years. As you can see, the connections to this family run very deep.
As the week went by, I kept thinking that I should do something for Del so that she can see how much Jellybean and I enjoy living in her home. I decided to create a photo book for her. I spent an afternoon looking through pictures on my laptop and gathered the ones I thought represented how comfortable we are here. I began with how infatuated Jellybean is with the cows that appear at the fence outside our sunroom window. Jellybean spends hours on the sofa looking out the window. It is one of her favorite spots. I am so lucky to have a sunroom that is a total wall of windows. It faces the field on a neighboring farm. The cows come down and hang out by the fence. Several ground hogs play in the brush. Birds in a variety of colors frolic in the thick bushes, squirrels perform high wire acts in the tree right outside the windows. We’ve even had a stray cat reach its little paws up and peer in the window. Needless to say, Jellybean did not tolerate that very well and looked at it more as of an invasion than nature at play. I have many pictures of Jellybean lounging here or sitting at attention, depending on the activity outside our windows.
I also included pictures of my big farm table, where my entire family can be seated together for meal time, my late husband’s barber chair – a cherished piece of furniture – which found its’ home in a corner spot of the sunroom, and pictures of baby Jay and Jellybean as they went from getting to know each other to becoming best buds. I often refer to them as Peanut Butter and Jelly, as you don’t see one without the other. I also included a picture of the infamous Jellybean’s closet, which now houses Jellybean’s ridiculous collection of coats, sweaters, jackets, hoodies, snowsuits, pajamas, etc. I’ll bet Del could not have imagined that the closet system she had installed for organizational purposes would be so perfect for my spoiled little puppy. I’m sure Del will get a chuckle out of the pictures of Jellybean frolicking in the yard as the snow gently falls. The pictures of her snow-covered face are absolutely adorable and speak to the high level of comfort and complete abandon she feels when playing here.
So, when Del inquires if Jellybean and I still like living in her house, I respond with a profound YES!! YES!! YES!! We love everything about it. Most of all we love that the house came already filled with love. Del left some of that behind for us. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to make a home for Jellybean and me in a home that permeates the love bestowed upon it by its’ former owner.
Beverly Stiffler Smith