Serendipity (revised Sept 2018)


It is quite a stretch to imagine a perfect family. 

I was not raised in a perfect family. Nor my wife Nancy. 

Far from perfect seems the common theme regarding the households we grew up in. 

But perfect families are a rarity, I would imagine. 

Clearly from opposite ends of the social scale…to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast and continues in the great State of Texas. 

Born and raised in the Village of Owego in Upstate New York, Nancy moved to Texas to be near her older sister Esther, an American Airlines Flight Attendant and, given that the home office was located in the metroplex, settled in for her first Texas summer…1980. 

Now, if you are from Texas, this needs no explanation, but, for those unfamiliar with Texas weather, in 1980 the temperature hit the century mark 69 times…the longest heat wave in Texas history.

Growing up in Owego, New York for Nancy was not as much a fairy tale story as it could have or should have been given that she came from a well established family, deeply rooted in the history of the Village of Owego. The story of her  childhood years and early adulthood are filled with, as most families’ stories, moments of nurturing love and kindness, as well as turmoil and heart wrenching tragedy, the final chapter of that fairy tale ending with the death of the matriarch and sale of the magic kingdom, allowing the surviving spouse to retire and start a new life in sunny Florida, his days filled with tee times and cocktail parties for the remainder of his life, while the surviving children, three sisters, fend for themselves, making new lives wherever and however possible.

My parents moved from Northeastern Iowa in 1954 to make a new life in Texas, far away from the farm fields my father grew up working.

Two adults, starting a new life in a new place and eventually, three children, formulated the dynamics of our upbringing in a working class family.

It was not a terrible existence or environment to grow up…nor, was it a fairytale story.

There was, as in most families, a fair amount of love and nurturing. Life in the late fifties had to have been hard for my parents. Jobs in the Dallas metropolitan area during WWII were booming. The aerospace industry was well established by the time my parents made their move to the metroplex, as well as the oil and gas industry. Our father eventually settled into oil manufacturing. 

Security Engineers, aka…Dresser Industries provided the income to support our family.

A steady job allowed our parents to transition from renters to homeowners and our family settled into a quiet neighborhood on the Northeast side of Grand Prairie, Texas. The All American family dream began to take shape in this quiet little neighborhood. Lifelong friendships would be established here as well. 

Summer vacations for our family were typically northbound, taking us “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.”

Our grandparents were very loving, hard working people.

I can only speak for myself, but, I believe we all cherished the relationships developed with our grandparents, regardless the small amount of time spent with them or the distance separating us.

I still love my grandparents and though they have been gone for many years now, will always love my grandparents.

But, all fairy tales come to an end and as tragedies befall the best of families…our’s was no exception.

Our father, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis was forced to retire. His failing health changed the dynamics of our family forever and it was the beginning of the end of our less than magic kingdom.

So, to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast.

For most of America’s immigrants, life began in the Northeast.

Nancy’s family were some of the earliest to immigrate to America, coming from Great Britain and Wales. Mine from Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. Her family eventually settling into Tioga County.

Some of my family had their beginnings in the State of New York as well. Both of our families fought in the Revolutionary War. My maternal 3rd Great Grandfather, Lyman Amsden, Private, Captain Woodworth’s Company, New York Militia, War of 1812 lived in the Finger Lakes region of New York, not too far from Owego, New York and in 1855 was awarded 160 acres, located upon the Southeast quarter of  Section thirty-one in Township Ninety-nine North of Range 15 West, in the District of Lands formerly subject to sale at Osage, Iowa _President James Buchanan

Merriam-Webster defines Serendipity : the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this 

So, to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast.

…our meeting and first date are told in this story titled “How I met Nancy”

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