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Good-bye 1916 Audubon

It started on July 4 1998. Two months later, on September 4, I was on the road to my new home. My family and I were moving from Atlanta, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. We had decided that our lives would be fuller, happier and richer living close to extended family.

Becky grew up in Charleston. Her mother, father and relatives still live in the same general area. We had visited often but never seriously considered moving there. We had talked about retirement; I was in favor of the coast but Becky favored the mountains.

Since I medically retired in 1996 I had thought often about moving to Charleston. The cost of living is lower. The city is smaller. The living pace is slower. Plus, with Becky's family near by, I would not worry as much about the effects on her and the children when MS deals me a dirty card.

There are several factors that held us back from discussing this issue. Becky has been with Emory for 18 years and her job and retirement future would be secure. One benefit from Emory is free college tuition for the children. We have a great church community, good friends, great neighbors, and access to wonderful medical resources. My extended family live in the opposite direction from Charleston. Becky has to deal with moving ' back' home. All these were powerful reasons to stay in Atlanta.


On July 4 we were visiting Charleston. A friend of the family asked Becky if she would consider a position at one of the local hospitals. When we returned to Atlanta, Becky sent a resume to see what would happen.

Ten days later we had not heard anything about the possible position. During that time we discussed what would be involved 'if' we moved. We talked about jobs, renting, buying, building and especially the children. We also did a lot of soul searching to see how we felt.

After the ten days I just asked Becky, Do you want to move back to Charleston? She answered, Yes. I said, Well, let's do it. The next day Becky resigned her job after eighteen years with Emory and worked her two week notice. Then she was off to Charleston with resumes to find a job and a place for us to live.

During the next few weeks I stayed in Atlanta to sell our house. Becky found a job she loves making more than she did in Atlanta. She found a house for us to rent, purchased a lot for us to build a home and got the children enrolled and started in school. After a few weeks of this the family and Dad decided he needed to be in Charleston, even if the house was not sold. Thus it was decided for Dad to move over Labor Day.

Dad's move was an event. On Thursday Becky and her dad drove to Atlanta through Hurricane Erle. On the next day a trailer was loaded with the Charleston necessities. As loading was being done, another person came to see the house. A contract was offered, accepted and we left for our new home with the last major Atlanta hurdle behind us.


It was difficult to drive away. The house we were leaving had been a special place, the first home for all of us. Meredith was only four months old when we bought it. Sean was five but this was the first place he had lived that was not rented. This was the first house I had ever owned. I remember the day we moved into it. It felt like home. Becky made it really 'home'.

I have memories of that house that will always be with me. After we moved in, out went Dad's earth color furniture. We were shopping at Rich's for new furniture and found a recliner that would become Dad's chair. We picked it special because Sean and I could sit in it together, just right. The chair came with us to Charleston. It now has a lot of little cat marks and Sean can not sit with me anymore but it is still Dad's chair.

It was on Audubon where our family started to grow, with pet type members. First there was Charley and Chester. We got them as kittens from Gary Coombs. Becky thought she wasn't a cat person until Chester adopted her. Now Becky calls Chester to sleep with us at night and Chester is with her whenever she sits down.

Charley was Sean's cat. It was evident very early who Charley preferred and he stayed with Sean like a puppy. Charley got sick and had to be put to sleep. It was a difficult lesson for Sean but he dug the grave by himself and Charley is at rest behind the house on Audubon. I wrote a story about Charley for Sean which is in the Humor area.

Then there was Check who picked Meredith during one of our visits with my father. Check was a beautiful bright white cat with a single black check mark on his head. He was playful as a ferret and loved Meredith. However, Check had a problem, see Pee-Pee Bandit, and Dad had to find him another home.

Never fear, Meredith now has Tommie. He came to live with us with his sister, Allie. Tommie is Meredith's baby. Tommie and Allie together have about driven Chester crazy but all three made the move to Charleston. Getting Allie here is another story.

We have one other family member that found us at 1916 Audubon and made the move with us. Zac showed up in our carport one year a few days after Thanksgiving and never left. We tried a couple of weeks to find his owner then adopted him at Christmas. Now Zac, half Chow/ half Shepherd, looks after all the family, sits with Dad when I smoke my pipe and sleeps at the foot of our bed. I have always wondered what brought him to our house.

I remember the day we found the house. We had been looking for a home since Meredith was born since my condo was a little small for four. Becky was tired from work so I went with the realtor to see it. The time was early Spring. I walked into the house, looked through it, looked out into the backyard, and knew. The yard was a blaze of color and great for kid play. Somehow we managed the deal, sold the condo and moved into our first home.

The first day in residence Sean was visited by his friend Kate, both were five, and her mother Karen. Next to our house was a natural spring. Sean and Kate decided to see where the water went. We lost them and in a panic searched like mad. Finally they came trucking out of the woods wondering about all the fuss. I walked them around the lot showing them the boundaries 'for ever more' and promised they would get a red butt if they every crossed the lines.

There was a tree in the front yard that became Meredith's climbing tree. We were going to have it removed during some landscaping but Meredith would not let us even discuss it. The tree remains. I believe her fascination with that tree began one year when she went Trick'r'Treating dressed as a tree, with a bird's nest on her head.

We had good neighbors on Audubon. Two of our first friends were Virginia and Carl, a retired couple from across the street. After a few years, Virginia passed away. Carl remained our friend. During one of my trips to London, Carl was the person who took Becky to the hospital when she had appendicitis. Carl is over 70 and still goes sky-diving. He is quit a gentleman.

Right next to us were Pat and Don, also retired. Don always made me think of the character on Home Improvement who gave words of wisdom from behind the fence. A lot of philosophy passed between our carport and Don's little garden. I cherish those brief moments and I will never forget how Meredith and Don communicated when she began to talk. She would stand next to Don's garden and say Hi. He would look up from his work and say Hi. A couple of minutes later she would say Hi and he would say Hi. Sometimes this exchange would continue for twenty minutes.

There are many other little memories, too many to list; the sounds of Clairmont which we seemed never to hear, Sean climbing out his bedroom window, cooking eggs in the fireplace when the power was out, the playhouse out back that Papa D built, the Brown Christmas Party at our house, cats climbing the Christmas Tree, looking through poop for a penny Meredith swallowed, smoking my pipe in the carport, cuddling with Becky on the sofa. Of all, I remember best the feeling I got when I came home from a long business trip in the middle of the night and finally pulled into our driveway. It was kinda like the feeling you get watching the Walton's.

Sean and Meredith are leaving there childhood in Atlanta. Becky and I are leaving the place we met and where our love first took root. My family is fortunate for home is were we are all together and we are now loving Charleston. However that house will always have a place in each of our hearts.

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