Photo by Anima Filkins on Unsplash
By Marilyn Pellini
Being from the generation of the “I’ve been moved” philosophy, mine is a story of choices.
When I was first married, my husband had recently graduated from college and was looking for a permanent job. I had been hired as a kindergarten teacher for the following year, so we would have at least one full salary to depend upon. Teachers were not paid much back then and things would be tight, but we were more than willing to scrimp just to be together.
We were living in Rhode Island at that time, and jobs for college graduates were not at all plentiful. Al had majored in business and decided that the packaging industry sounded both interesting and challenging. His first interview was with International Paper in upstate New York. I could not believe that we might need to settle so far away from our home area, and was secretly delighted when he did not get the job. His next interview resulted in an offer from a behemoth company in the can industry that would move us to New Jersey, which was at least a bit closer to family. Fortunately one of Al’s fellow salesmen knew of an apartment in his complex that was for rent. Being far from home for the first time in my life did not seem quite so terrible, since we would have built-in friends.
My first child, Michael, had been born just months before our move, so I was now planning to be a stay-at-home mom. Not nine months had passed living in our Jersey apartment when Al was offered a promotion. All the boxes had not even been totally unpacked, but Massachusetts was an appealing relocation. What could be better, I thought — back really close to home.
We stayed in this New England town for three years, and made some lifelong friends among our immediate neighbors. Our second child, Lynn, was born there, and I was so happy to have both a boy and a girl. I was already finding moving from place to place difficult, and wondered how I could ever do this once my children reached school-age. Our apartment was a duplex that looked from the outside like a one-family house. It had three bedrooms and a lovely backyard. As a little family, we were comfortable and secure. That was when the next promotion came. It was an important step up this time, and I could see just how delighted and proud Al was to think that he had been chosen. How could I possibly stand in his way, even though I was so happy where I was? So, off we went to New York.
Just before this move, my husband’s sister died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 32. She was one of my best friends growing up, and a good part of the reason I eventually ended up marrying her brother. Her children were six and four years old, and I felt so terrible that I would now live very far away and could not help raise or care for them. By the time her funeral was over and our deep grieving somewhat in check, all the houses we had been looking at were sold. We were once again back at square one. My husband‘s company had put him up in a hotel for many, many weeks, and now we felt under pressure to find a place to live.
Trying to think logically, our best bet was to go back to New Jersey to the area where we had lived once before. We hurriedly put a down payment on an apartment rental. We had been so hoping to find an affordable house, only to realize that property anywhere close to the city was astronomically expensive. It would just have to be another apartment. One of Al’s fellow salesmen heard of our predicament and suggested we look farther north of the city and mentioned a few towns such as Mount Kisco, Katonah, and Somers. We decided to give house searching one more try.
I left the children with my folks and traveled to New York for this one last-ditch effort to find a house. On our way up the Saw Mill Parkway, I was in charge of the map and mentioned that Mount Kisco seemed like the first town we would come to. “No,” Al said, “We’re going to Katonah.” When I asked him why, he had no definitive answer. Later, I prayerfully attributed it to his sister’s guidance from above. We stopped at the first real estate agency we saw and explained what type of house we were looking for and our price range. She had five homes to show us, and by the evening we made an offer on a cute little place right near the elementary school.
Our son started kindergarten three days after we moved into our castle, and we were all so grateful to be settled. The kids and I soon began to love our new area, and shortly after that I became a substitute teacher and president of the PTA. Al was working very long hours in the city, but was joyous to own his first house. We were so happily ensconced in our new area when it happened again! My husband was offered another advancement, which would mean a move to Chicago.
We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of living in the Midwest, as this would mean moving to an area we were completely unfamiliar with. I finally suggested to Al that maybe he should take the job and commute home on weekends. The kids were so happy in their school and I in the community that he finally decided to pass up that promotion. I think a number of people in his company knew that I was hesitant to move again, as this would be my fourth relocation in six years. Others were dying to meet the crazy wife, as I had to be nuts not to want an increased paycheck and a bigger house.
Because my husband was such a hard and devoted worker, and a kind and religious guy, he was hard to overlook. He had fine manners and was a meticulous dresser. Eventually he got the same promotions and continued to grow his company’s business. A couple of years later he thanked me for helping him make the decision to put our kids first. The children were thriving in this town that we truly called home. So many of Al’s co-workers had teenagers who suffered greatly from moving around the country every two or three years.
After being with his company for 23 years, his segment of the business was sold off to another entity. He had the choice of following them to yet another area or looking for new employment. He was now in his late forties, and it would be a challenge, but within three days he had a new position, one that he loved and stayed with until his eventual retirement.
To move steadily up the corporate ladder should not necessarily be one’s only goal. The happiness of the entire family should be a major consideration. If you are transplanted to an area you do not like, sometimes that is your last wrung on the company ladder, and you are stuck there rather permanently, as the next move is on you. Investigate thoroughly the job, co-workers, neighborhoods, and of course schools in this new locale. As a former teacher, I have seen many a family become unhappy because of a job relocation. Do not unknowingly let this happen to you.
Marilyn Pellini has recently published a grief book entitled Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances. It has been selling quite well. Her other credits as a writer include a recent article in Brick Magazine entitled “Memories in My Button Jar,” pieces in Westchester Parent Magazine, Bay State Parent Magazine, On The Water, Balanced Rock, and others which she would be happy to provide copies of upon request. In May of 2018, she took the first place prize in the N.Y. State Federation of Women’s Clubs writing contest.