Today’s post will amaze some people. The idea behind it certainly amazed me when it first occurred to me in May. I was talking to my daughter about our granddaughter’s nineteenth birthday, when a simple thought popped into my head. We were here, in Caddo, before she was born. So that had to mean we had been here almost twenty years. Twenty years!!
Gary and I talked about it briefly. He thought we got here in late July, I thought it was a little earlier. I finally looked it up in my journal this morning. We moved from California to Oklahoma in June of 1991 and arrived at Mom’s on June 14. I know, I know… we’ve missed the anniversary, but the impact is still the same. Who would have ever imagined we would still be here after twenty years?
Right now some of you are thinking, “twenty years-so what?” You’ve probably lived where you are for at least twenty years. Some of you have lived in the same place for fifty years. To really understand the significance of our anniversary you have to remember that I have moved 51 times. Fifty-one different homes. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, I have a list and even photos of many of them. Six of those moves have been in this general area during the twenty years. However, that still leaves forty-five moves to and from countless towns and cities in four states in forty years. Twenty-five of those were made before Gary and I married.
My parents were young, unskilled, hard-working, ambitious, and hopeful when I was growing up. So they often moved to where there was a better job, or more jobs, or just any job that would keep us all in food and clothing. We all worked in the fields and Dad usually had a “real” job as well. And of course my parents were constantly pulled between their family ties in Oklahoma and the opportunities in California. So we followed crops and dreams back and forth between the two states. We lived in Gilroy, CA while they worked harvesting beets. We lived in Ft. Worth, TX when Dad worked for Lone Star Gas. We lived in Madera, CA when Dad was foreman for a ranch. And so it went until we returned to Caddo in 1965.
By the time Gary and I married I had moved six more times and was back in California. The first time we had financial problems I suggested that we move. It was the only solution I knew. So we spent years moving. Sometimes we moved for all the right reasons and it worked out well, but most of the time we were disappointed- jobs that didn’t turn out to be as good as promised, houses that had unforeseen problems. Sometimes we moved to be closer to relatives; sometimes we moved to get away from them. Sometimes our children were happy to move; other times they hated us for it.
When we first returned to Caddo our intention was to just have an extended visit with my family and then move on. We had lived in Grove and in Caddo in the eighties and thought we might prefer the northern part of the state. But finances and circumstances kept us in Caddo, and I will forever be grateful that they did. I don’t think I would have finished my degree and returned to teaching if we had not stayed here near SOSU. Gary wouldn’t have found a career in truck driving if he hadn’t attended the driving school in Ardmore. Those two events alone have made it possible for us to make tremendous changes in our lives.
I also want to make the point that these twenty years have not been a matter of simply staying because it was easier than doing otherwise. I got several job offers in other parts of the state when I got my teaching degree. None of them seemed right; the communities didn’t agree with us. I even taught in Texas for a while and commuted on the weekends, but at the end of the year I couldn’t convince myself to move. I taught an hour away for four years, but I was never tempted to settle over there. The peace and contentment we feel here has grounded us. The people here have embraced us and encouraged us. The location is perfect for us. The size of the communities in our county suits us, but if we crave the entertainment of the city there are several close by. I won’t even complain much about the weather. We have lived through worse.
So, we celebrate twenty years in Caddo, Oklahoma this month! Gary and I are happier here than we have been anywhere else and I hope we live here another twenty years!