A new chapter, one bittersweet page at a time

by Ogi Overman

This weekend Janet and I will be making our final move. All the pieces somehow fell in place; all the contracts were honored, the loan went through, the checks cleared. None of the potential deal-breakers proved insurmountable, all the obstacles were overcome. Yes, we still have some more boxes to pack, some old clothes to take to Goodwill and some memorabilia and semi-valuables to take to our friend Megin Duff to put on eBay for us, but basically we’re ready to begin the next chapter.

While we are genuinely excited about moving into a lovely, lakefront home in Forest Oaks that has almost everything on our wish list, there is still a twinge of melancholy hanging in the air. We are, after all, leaving behind a home that I knew beyond all doubt would be our last stop before the Last Stop. This one, too, had every item on our wish list, and then some. But what it lacked was something crucial and far beyond our control – two things, actually – and that’s what tells me, intellectually, that we’re making the right decision, really the only decision. Emotionally, though, it’s a different story.

First, the house we’ve called home for seven years is configured in such a way to preclude building a handicap-accessible bathroom. As Janet’s battle with chronic-progressive MS continues to take its toll, the only way to get her back the dignity and quality of life she so richly deserves is to build a roll-in shower with all handicap fixtures and accessories. And thanks to our dear friends, plumbing contractor John McQuorcodale and home improvement contractor Richard Hendrickson, the finishing touches are now being put on a sparkling, state-of-the-art bathroom worthy of a queen.

Some would call the second battle a disease, but I’ve come to grips with characterizing it simply as the inevitable march of progress. To fight it is on the one hand noble but on the other futile. It is equally unwinnable and just as insidious, even if not a disease per se.

What I now know that I didn’t fully grasp in 2001 is that the area we moved into, the New Garden Road corridor, is so ripe for development, such a hot spot, that it was a foregone conclusion, just a matter of time. Once Bryan Boulevard was cut through to the airport, this would become the last major thoroughfare that intersected it before reaching PTI. And even before, when the old Jefferson-Pilot property was sold, the handwriting was on the wall. The winding, two-lane road I fell in love with when I moved to Greensboro in 1973 is no more. The row of tall, stately cedars behind the split-rail fence that separated the rolling hills from the country road is long gone, never to return. And soon, so too will be the magnolia and weeping cherry, the dogwoods and maples, the plum tree and the honeysuckle vines that graced our property a hundred yards off New Garden. Not to mention the pool, the treehouse and the house itself.

But those are the emotional arguments, right? Clearly, we made the right decision. To not have taken the developer’s generous offer would have been sheer idiocy. Sure, we could have planted Leland Cyprus around the perimeter and barricaded ourselves into our little three-quarters of an acre that would have been bounded on three sides by condos, while watching our property value plummet straight into the toilet – and, believe me, I considered it. But… we’d still be without a handicap-accessible bathroom.

I’ve cut off my nose to spite my face plenty of times, but by this stage in life it’s time to do the only prudent thing and bail. I fought the good fight, stood up for my principles, held off the developers as long as I could. But there comes a time when you either fall on your sword or cut the best deal you can.

So, yes, it’s time to move on. Time to let progress have its due. Time to turn the page.

Bittersweet though it is, we are finding ways to view this as a new beginning, another chance to make our remaining years happy ones. I’m sure that once we get moved in and settled we’ll fall in love with our new abode, just as we did with our soon-to-be last one. Once we’ve had a few sunsets from the covered deck, watching the ducks and geese; once we’ve snuggled up in front of the fireplace; once she’s wheeled in to that dazzling, room-sized shower, the mild depression we’re feeling now will fade.

But right now I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I guess I’ll do both.

Ogi may be reached at and seen on “Triad Today” hosted by Jim Longworth on ABC 45 at 6:30 a.m. Fridays and on WMYV 48 at 10 p.m. Sundays.