Now that our meals require us to grab chairs for seats from all over the house, it is time to look back over the years while there is still a place to sit and write.
Coming to Roanoke was a good move for us. This pleasant valley in Southwest Virginia was a much better fit for our family than a spot in the middle of the mass of humanity that stretches from Baltimore to Washington.
Our home on the mountain leading up to Twelve O'Clock Knob was a wonderful place to raise a family. The scenic beauty of Roanoke has been a source of pride to us. Our home with an amazing view of the Peaks of Otter was a breathtaking place to watch the seasons change.
I've captured thousands of sunrise photos from our deck so it is hard for me to say that it isn't Roanoke's scenic beauty that I will miss. However, the truth is that Roanoke from day one was all about the people for us, and it still is.
We lived in Atlantic Canada for sixteen years. In some ways it was a trip back in time. Our farmhouse in New Brunswick never had a key until we moved out. Halifax, Nova Scotia where we spent our final couple years in Canada was one of the warmest and most welcoming cities that I have ever had the privilege of enjoying.
When a new Apple job brought us to Columbia, MD, we thought it was going to be a huge improvement because we would be so much closer to the children's grandparents in Mt. Airy, NC. Columbia turned out to be a type "A" city with little sense of neighborhood in spite of it being designed to foster the feeling of neighborhood.
From our first days in the valley, Roanoke was different and even friendlier than Atlantic Canada. We were amazed when the person who sold us our appliances was okay with waiting to be paid until they were delivered. In Maryland it seemed that everyone was presumed untrustworthy. In Roanoke people were willing to gamble that others were basically good.
There were times in Columbia when I suspected that few people who worked in Columbia actually lived there. Roanoke again was just the opposite. Everyone from teachers to plumbers seemed to live in Roanoke. I still remember the time our hot water heater died on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. The magic of Roanoke helped us get a new hot water heater installed before noon the next day.
There were times in our early years when a Sunday night meal at Famous Anthony's at Oak Grove Plaza was like a class reunion for our children.
We still joke that no one wants to go to Kroger at Ridgewood Farms with my wife because it is not will she run into someone she knows but whom she will run into on a given trip.
I made her stay in the car one day when I ran in for a few groceries while we were cleaning our house out. When I came out someone that she knew had still found her, and they were deep in one those of conversations that only ladies who have known each other for years can have.
When our power was out for several days this summer because the big storm, one of our neighbors cleaned out our freezer so we would not have to make the six hour drive back from the beach to an unairconditioned house. You don't find friends like that just anywhere, but you can find them everywhere in Roanoke.
We made a lot of memories and life-long friends in Roanoke. Like many families our children all moved away from Roanoke looking for jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if all three would come back to Roanoke to live if given the chance. I know my wife would come back in a heart beat if she could drag me away from the saltwater.
As I pack up my fly rod, I know our time in the valley is drawing to a close. Still even at this late stage Roanoke continues to remind me why it is such a great place for families.
In early August 2012, I headed out to Hammerhead Hardware to get a clip that would take a day or two to find at Lowe's or Home Depot. After successfully getting my clip in less than five minutes, I stopped by Sheetz to try to put some air in the tires of my moving dolly. Their compressor was little better than the one I have at home.
With still no air in the dolly's tires, I headed down 419 to Bratcher's Oak Grove Shell which has been our service station for the last 23 years. When I walked in they apologized because they were waiting for a part for their air compressor. Steve told me to go over to Firestone and tell them that their compressor was broken.
I drove across the road to Firestone and explained that my moving cart needed some air in the tires and Bratcher's couldn't help. I told them that I was under the gun to move out of our house in three weeks.
The guy at the counter took the cart from me and walked into their garage. In five minutes he came back with my cart and two tires which he successfully filled with air. When I asked him how much I owed him, he said nothing and wished me good luck with our move.
Roanoke is one of a few remaining places where that could have happened.
We owe Roanoke a whole lot more than a simple thanks. The town and its people helped us raise three very nice young adults. We couldn't have done it without the help of the community.
So as we bid adieu to Roanoke, I also want to say thanks for the memories and for all the support during the challenges we faced over the last twenty-three years. Our time in Roanoke will always have a warm spot in our hearts.