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Blog entry by NoLongerHere posted 03-29-2011 11:13 PM 3704 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife, Lynn and I have lived here since 1990.

We looked for six months before we found this little diamond in the rough. It wasn’t much to look at back then, but as a carpenter, I saw huge potential.

The Cape Cod style house was built in 1957, the year I was born and had good strong bones.

That’s Lynn with Sammy – our first dog. He was so smart. Look how cute Lynn is!

The ½ acre double lot was in the middle of a small suburb by a lake. It was covered with 26 tall trees and used to be part of the Sears Estate.

The streets wind through the rolling landscape and around the lake as designed by an understudy of Frank Lloyd Wright.

We like to walk our dogs to the park by the lake, just about every day.

I remember how hard it was to buy this house.

We didn’t have the best credit but we qualified for the loan. Like many first time home buyers, we only had so much for a down payment and all the expenses of moving. Our accountant told us to be careful, we were biting off more than we could afford.

But I didn’t listen. Instead, I looked for ways to make this dream possible.

I worked long hours and weekends and I sold my my jeep and motorcycle but we still didn’t have quite enough money for everything. After Lynn’s dad saw the house, he said he wanted to help out with the down payment.

My father in law, Jim Newman was like a mentor to me. He was successful in business as the vice president of American Can Co. and he had a personality that made you smile and feel welcome.

When I talked to him, he would listen and say just the right things without a judgmental tone. I never had this with my dad.

I made this golf balll display case for Jim’s collection.

They raised their two sons and a daughter in Lake Forest IL. They taught them about saving and investing, the importance of a good education and being involved in the community and politics.

I knew little about money, my family was torn apart by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult religion. I barely graduated High school in 1975 – the year we were taught to believe Armageddon was coming – and I had never voted.

We came from completely different worlds. Jim was a well educated, white collar professional; I was a blue collar dusty carpenter without a clue.

Jim was a pillar of the community and he had many friends. Everyone liked him. I’m sure he dreamed of the day Lynn, a daughter of the American Revolution, would marry a successful Lake Forest business man with all the credentials and a normal family.

Not a long haired kid from California in street roller skates.

But, he must have seen a diamond in the rough in me.

We had breakfast together every Sunday at The Egg Harbor Cafe in Lake Forest and we spent many vacations with them.

I remember how he would bring out things to look at like an old Silver dollar or gold coin from his collection, his dad’s old receipt pad from his electrical business with a phone number # 18 on it. On time, it was a 1930s pad lock that his grandfather used on a box full of tools that brought back memories and made him smile.

As time passed, he would hand write a little note about the items and give them to me at Christmas or birthdays.

Thanks to Jim, I’ve learned to love history through the feel of an old coin, the stories of times past, and the dynamic of being included in his wonderful family.

He passed away a few years ago and I think of him every day. I know he was proud of me, like I was his own son. I sure miss him.

Once he showed me his coin collection, I started buying silver dollars whenever I could. I even became friends with the nice old man that owned the little store called, The Old World Coin Shop in downtown Kenilworth.

Back then, they were only $4- 5 dollars each so I would buy eight at a time, just about every week; no particular reason other than eight silver dollars fit in my hand perfectly. The weight was impressive and the sound when they slid together reminded me of a good night of poker. As I looked at them, they would shine brightly and reveal the incredible art of Lady Liberty or The American Eagle.

After 20 years of remodeling every inch of this house, I look back at all the time spent together as a family, discussing the latest changes or future plans, like paint colors, over breakfast and coffee. The house became a common ground to share and guide us about money, not overbuilding (epic fail), and living within our means.

I loved it when Jim would come and visit to see the progress and smile at me. He knew I would succeed. In many ways, this home is a big part of him.

We scrimped and saved and used recycled materials like windows, beams, oak flooring and trim. We did what we could and never borrowed money to rebuild, hence the reason it’s taken over 22 years.

To me, it was never about investing in real estate or making money.

It turned out it was about a journey with my true family and, with the help of a few friends,
to finish a project that represents a life time of memories it created.

Might be a good idea to also thank my dear wife, Lynn for putting up with all my dust.

There are several posts in my profile of our house. I hope you like them. Thank you.


In Loving memory of Jim and my mother in law, Shirley who recently passed away.

My ol’ shop dog, Kasey who lived to 15 1/2 yrs old,

Abbey girl who died suddenly at 8 1.2 years old.

Our 20 yr. old cat, Tess, my little garden buddy.

And Jack, one of the coolest dogs you would’ve ever met.

On a good note, we have a new member of the family.

His name is Tyler. new little garden/ woodshop buddy.

13 comments so far

View Richforever's profile


750 posts in 3141 days

#1 posted 03-29-2011 11:31 PM

Gorgeous home and wonderful projects! Hang in there. Things will be getting much better, sooner rather than later.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View David White's profile

David White

120 posts in 2701 days

#2 posted 03-29-2011 11:39 PM

Hi Mark

Thanks for sharing your story. Not long ago my wife and I bought a beautiful old house looking out to sea. Its the house I always deamed of owning, but its showing its age and needs alot of work to bring it back to its former glory. I worry that I don’t have the skills or the money or the time to do the work as well as I want to (and as well as the house deserves). I worry too that it will keep me from spending time with my daughters – Emily who is 6 and wee Lexie who is 11 months (she is adopted and has been with us since 3 months old).

Your story gave me courage and hope. I know that if I take my time and do it right all will be well. Whats 20 years in a legacy that will last for generations?

Thanks again.



View superstretch's profile


1530 posts in 2114 days

#3 posted 03-29-2011 11:55 PM

Great story and I’m saddened by your losses of late. It seems like you’re the kind of man to enjoy things while you can and remember them once they’ve passed on by. You’ve done a fantastic job on the house and memorializing the important parts of your life.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1101 posts in 2394 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 06:34 AM

Lovely story
Thanks for taking the time to tell it

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2762 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 10:37 AM

well done mark and lynn

your home is beautiful
and knowing it as home
and not house
a joy

great living
great memories

thank you for having us
for a visit

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View GaryD's profile


623 posts in 2790 days

#6 posted 03-30-2011 02:14 PM

Mark, Know how you feel. You just cant put a price on that kind of thing. Great stories and great memories for you. Thanks for sharing. Your home is outstanding, and knowing its a home and not just a house makes it all. Congrats opn it.

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8098 posts in 2849 days

#7 posted 03-30-2011 02:44 PM

Beautiful story well told, Mark.

We should all be so lucky to have a person like your father in law in our lives.

Memories shared are even more precious for the sharing.


-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Bertha's profile


12989 posts in 2114 days

#8 posted 03-30-2011 03:00 PM

A very touching story and beautiful home. I’m sorry for your losses.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View HerbC's profile


1568 posts in 2280 days

#9 posted 03-30-2011 05:24 PM


Sorry to hear about your losses. You’ve done a great job, both with your home and with your life. Treasure each day, each memory as they are more precious than all the silver in the world. Each day make sure that Lynn knows how important she is to you. Once the pain eases a bit more, start looking for a new puppy, not to replace either Kasey or Abbey girl but to add another pool of unconditional love to your lives…

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2536 days

#10 posted 03-30-2011 05:50 PM

thank´s for sharing a bit of your life with us
in a well written blog , its a fantastic place you and your fammely have build over the years
and you are right it ain´t just a house its a heilom filled with treasures of memery´s

take care

View cely's profile


1 post in 2035 days

#11 posted 03-30-2011 06:26 PM

Hi Mark,
Your story is so heartwarming. It’s nice that you had a close relationship with your father in law. Sometimes the support that we need and desire can come from unexpected places. Even the care and love that we pour into a home can bring us comfort and a wonderful sense of self worth and accomplishment…something we’ve proved to ourself as we look at it everday. It’s the people in our lives that truely make a home and it seems that you have enjoyed both over the years. Yes we can pay it forward.. by being the mentor your loving father in law was…to our own children and other lost souls along the way.
Beautiful Home! I am a huge Frank Loyd Wright fan too! :)
Celeste R S

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2439 days

#12 posted 03-31-2011 06:57 PM

Mark, Your story moved me cause I seen the work that you do and know the kind of person you are! A man is known by the care and love he shows in his work, and in you my friend, I see all that and more! I especially love the floor you did. My brother did something similar to his floor when he remodeled his house, so I know how much time and love you put into it!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2096 days

#13 posted 04-01-2011 05:07 AM

Rich, Dan, Steve and Scott,
Thank you for all of your heartfelt comments. I know this was a little heavy and out of the ordinary for LJ.

It started out as a blog about the coins in the floor and turned in to a way to say goodbye to my parents and our “kids”. Not unlike the things we create. We have an idea in mind, but as it unfolds in front of us, it never turns out exactly as you expected.

Dave, ”it will keep me from spending time with my daughters – Emily who is 6 and wee Lexie who is 11 months.” It sounds like you have your priorities in the right place. Lynn and I tried to have kids and adopt several times. She had a tubal pregnancy once and the mothers changed their mind at the last minute, 3 times.
It was too painful to keep trying so we adopted 3 Golden Retrievers.
The house is fine the way it is until your ready. Besides, it sounds like God provided you with a nice view of the Sea! No need to hurry, mate. Emily is right behind you. I would give my house away to have what you have.

David – Thank you for including Lynn in your nice reply. ”only thru kindness can this world be whole.”
Oh, how I wish it were true. I’m very concerned.
But showing kindness within our own personal village is enough to make all the difference in the world.

Gary, Gene, Al, and Erwin,
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I appreciate your comments.

Lynn and I have been married now for almost 30 years (April). if she hasn’t gotten used to coming home to another room tore up, or finding me covered in dust from the wood shop by now, I’m in trouble!
Our 125 Golden, Jack was so depressed after Abbey died, we looked at CL online just to see. A young family had a new baby girl that was very allergic to dogs so they had to give away their purebred, perfectly trained, 4 yr old Golden named Hunter. He has become part of the family and jack has a new friend. We stay in touch with them and share photos of our “kids”. Funny how things work out. We needed Hunter as much as he needed us.

Dennis, ”its a heilom filled with treasures of memery´s” You’re such a delight! Thank you for being you.
..........still love the blue hat.

It’s been a long time….....too long. 12 years? Thank you for your comments. They mean a lot to me.

Why does it seem like family has to wait until somebody dies before we call or see each other? How can I change the past so it doesn’t effect the future? What happens next sis ?
My heart is in your hands, again. I do love you.

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