What is a small house with friends? | Columns

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I love living in Ocean City and I hope those born and raised in this county have felt as blessed as I am being part of the Cape May County family.

Those who have settled here by choice surely realize that the hands of God have blessed us to be able to share the joys of living in this wonderful region.

The advantage, or perhaps the disadvantage, depending on the point of view, is that most live near the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay attracting visitors. My husband and I have friends who have never visited us on the West Coast but are happy to see us now. I’m sure those born and raised here probably entertain the extended family as much as the rest of us.

The county’s beaches are beautiful and the ocean is clean. This, on its own, attracts thousands of tourists but is well known to all who live here – once friends and family (and even the occasional acquaintance) find out that there is a bed and breakfast available at walking distance or a short drive to the water, they consider it a real free vacation.

My husband and I bought a tiny house when we moved to Ocean City in the 1980s which is now our permanent home. Our house has a bedroom of limited proportions and an even smaller room which we use as a home office / reading room. We didn’t have a separate bedroom, so all the guests stayed in the small room and we all shared a bathroom.

We both come from large families and of course everyone wanted to visit us (or was it maybe the beach?) Every year. We were both working full time, and early on, our sleep-deprived bodies realized that we quickly needed a separate bedroom and bathroom. We only had two spaces that could work, a lean-to built at the back of the house and a room that came with our independent garage.

When we first visited our house, the garage appeared as a double garage, but only with a garage door and a picture window where the other garage door should be. The door to the garage to the next room was locked, as was the outer door to that space, so we weren’t sure what we were getting, but still bought the house.

It was a tight market, we wanted to live in Ocean City in particular, and my husband is good with home repairs, so we gave it a shot. When we finally signed on the dotted line, we found out what was in that space.

While the garage floor was slightly cracked cement, the cement floor in the other room fell into a gap that must have been created by the sand and dirt that had been washed away below. On the plus side, the room came with a half bath of cold water.

We later learned from an elderly neighbor that a contractor had built our house and was living there with his family. He used the garage room as an office.

After our first sleepless summer with too many people in our house coming and going at all times, my husband got to work creating a spare bedroom. He built a nice wooden floor suspended over the cracked cement, and we painted everything freshly. We’ve furnished the new guest bedroom with great finds from end-of-season trash days and garage sale bargains.

We ended up with a guest bedroom with its own powder room and an outdoor shower.

For many years, family and friends came and went every week from June to September. We kept a calendar and guests had to register early to have “their” week. They also had to be taken out on Saturday morning as I was washing the sheets and towels and preparing food for the next group.

Looking back, I know this was something we could only do with God’s provision because everyone was running out of money at this point in life. No one complained, however, and we made it work.

We ate a lot of hot dogs, burgers, salads, and fresh fruit. We’ve played endless dominoes games, and we still do because the garage spare bedroom is still working to this day.

The garage room received a nice makeover after Super Storm Sandy, as we eventually had to fill in the dirt and pour new cement, new flooring over the cement, and new walls under the line. ‘flood. For the first time, we purchased a brand new bed and chaise longue too. Of course, I sterilized and kept some of the washable furniture – what would the place be without a bit of nostalgia?

Honestly, I don’t know how we did it. I cannot thank the Lord enough for the strength and persistence of working full time and coming home to a house full of people waiting to be fed.

Fortunately, we now have friends and relatives for about four weeks during the summer, with enough time in between to enjoy a special time in Ocean City ourselves.

For those who are still welcoming family and friends every summer, I wish good times and good memories. I pray that God will watch over everyone as we share this wonderful life we have in Cape May County with those who can only enjoy it for about a week every year. I especially enjoy this time of year as we wrap up summer, take a deep breath, get out and enjoy all that our region has to offer while the weather still retains the scent of summer.

The work of God is visible everywhere, from the multiple colors of the sunrise to the ocean, the greenery and the flowers throughout the day until the sun loses its last colored ray at sunset. We are indeed blessed.

If we ever get the blues, come out, smell the salt air and walk around to see our Creator’s great gift for us.

ed. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City.


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