We had visitors at our new home this week. In the midst of our chaotic construction, two women walked down our driveway and up the front steps pausing at the open front door. They were hesitant.
“Welcome,” I said introducing myself. People get curious with a large renovation, I thought. “I’m Carol,” said one, warmly. “I was Mr. Jenney’s caretaker.” I reached for her hand and she smiled as she scanned the great room. She was taking it all in and I knew she was in shock. She introduced the other woman, Bonnie, who had been their housekeeper. The two had worked for the Jenney’s for 15 years and became friends bonding over their care. Especially in the last years of the Jenney’s lives. Mrs. Jenney died a few years back, of Alzheimer’s. Mr. Jenney just last year after health struggles that still have Carol weepy.
Mr. and Mrs. Jenney built this home, now our home, in the early 1990s. Having purchased the land in the 80s it took them a few years to settle on an architect, hire a builder and to organize their retirement to Savannah. Mr. Jenney was an executive with People Magazine and they lived in Bergen County, NJ where they raised 5 children, who I knew were all about my age. We’d dealt with the them for the sale and subsequent closing of the home, which was in the Jenney’s estate.
“Would you like to look around?” I asked, and they said they would very much. I explained the reasons for my changes and was surprised and pleased when they continually noted that, “they would have loved these changes, particular Mrs. Jenney.”
Carol was candid about repairs that had to be made the last few years and I nodded, because I knew all this from the inspection reports, but I let her talk. She thought Doug’s new closet was splendid and told me that Mr. Jenney enjoyed a vast wardrobe (which is really funny because Doug does not care that much about fashions and almost all of his clothes have been purchased with me). She was astonished at the new kitchen layout and adored the new placement of the kitchen sink. “That,” she said, “is exactly where it should have been. And Bonnie nodded agreement. She was likely remembering many a meal prep or clean-up she had in that old space.
When we walked into the new master bathroom and that nasty old enormous pink bathtub was gone, they both pointed at the space that is now a spacious walk- in shower and laughed. “Good riddance to that terrible thing,” Bonnie said. We shared a laugh that so much of the home had touches of pink; the master bathroom, the living room carpeting, the guest room, even a cabinet in the master bedroom. Apparently, it was her favorite color. I imagined that when the home was first completed Mrs. Jenney told her friends, in her newly acquired faintly southern drawl, that pink was her signature color. I told them the family left us the original architects plans which we treasure and that they have helped for some of our decisions.
“This house was their dream,” said Carol, and I nodded that I understood. Because it is our dream too. I’ve felt from the beginning this home has good Karma. That it was ready for a new family; for a new beginning. And that the Jenney’s would be pleased it’s in the hands of a couple who love it as much as they did.
Originally this window was part of a breakfast area and the windows view was blocked by heavy landscaping
The new window is wider and now has a spectacular view. A counter will come from the right wall and the large farm sink will be under this new window.