Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pep Talk: "Better For Those Who Follow"

“I don’t have a problem with what you’re doing, but DO want a chance to say goodbye.” That comment was from New York City-based son about selling our house in Denver’s Congress Park neighborhood. It was the dwelling the 26-year-old child of divorce, in a joint custody arrangement, called home when with his father.

It has been a trip down memory lane in preparing this special place for conversion from rental to “For Sale.” 22 years ago, a single father reeling from a sudden and unexpected marital split, bought the place. The expanded bungalow, it’s like a town home, was less than a block from the, then, five-year-old’s school. Convenient. A fresh start.

It needed work. There was no front yard. Just a bunch of lava rocks, wood chips and juniper trees. I can remember the sweat equity in creating a more welcoming and functional front yard. It would become home to many football and baseball games of catch between father and son. The young man could throw a football well.

The backyard sucked too. It was all deck with a dilapidated hot tub. I vividly remember recruiting former CU Buff football buddies, supplying hydrating beverages, sledge hammers and crow bars as we, collectively, tore that deck apart. From its ruins came a small backyard with a kids’ playhouse. Later, after another marriage and the birth of, now, 19-year-old daughter, the kids eventually outgrew the playhouse. It was converted into “Poor Man’s Porch.” A shady summer spot where I would often write these weekly Pep Talk musings.

Every room inside was redone. Hardwoods replaced carpet, bathrooms were updated and memories created. The memories are mixed, for the kids and their old man. The sting of another divorce and juggling visitation schedules. The joy of wonderful neighbors on a tree-lined street where everything needed is within short walking distance. Congress Park, just east of Denver’s Botanic Gardens, is like a village inside the city. For a guy trying to re-invent after marital meltdowns and career detours, 1062 Fillmore was shelter from the storms of life. The neighbor’s kids enjoyed coming over for “Uncle Mac’s” signature culinary dishes. On a very limited menu, “Hamburger Helper” and “Taco Night” were most popular.

It was Bullet’s home too. The jet black family cat. At the time, the running joke with well intended buddies was, “Mac, she’s the only female who hasn’t left.” Haha. The beloved and aging feline vanished into thin air about four years ago as the property was converted into a rental after darling wife - third time’s the charm! - and I settled into a nearby town home. Bullet’s whereabouts are still unknown.

What is known is the comfort of a house nestled between a school at one end of the block and a church at the other. Good karma. The house is ready for its next occupants. The journalist inside wonders, “What will be their story?” Another single parent seeking a fresh start? A young couple just getting a family started? Empty nesters seeking to downsize?

Only time will tell. A single dad’s place with his kids was originally built 100 years ago. Its foundation is strong, creative and welcoming. Goodbye’s are emotional, whether it’s a beloved residence, relationship or something else.

This week, is it time to close a chapter? If so, do it from a foundation of strength, creativity and spirit focused on trying like heck to make it better for those who follow. That’s a winning strategy in real estate and life.

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