We moved to Lakewood, New Jersey, in 2004. Summer after summer I watched the traffic in our town decrease as families stuffed their mini vans with suitcases to travel to the famed Catskill mountains. Longing to experience what the draw was all about I looked into rentals around five years ago so our family would be able to spend two weeks in the mountains. After an enchanting vacation in South Fallsburg I was hooked.
It was a small fortune to pay for a vacation that lasted just two weeks. It was not nearly enough time for me to spend in the mountains. I didn’t want to leave. I decided I would do everything I could to make my dream of being in the Catskills as often as I wished a reality. Many times at my secretarial job after I finished my work, I would browse the real estate websites for housing opportunities. I would call real estate agents working in the area and ask them questions regarding the homes and over the years drove to see various properties.
My search continued. I would drive in the winter when visibility was poor; in the snow and in the fog. Once, after I drove the three-hour trip to be present at an inspection of a house that I was considering, the owner came outside and announced to us that he had changed his mind and wasn’t ready to sell his home. I turned around with a troubled heart and made my way back to my SUV. The six hours in the car that morning was not a waste though. After that disappointment, the real estate agents became even more dedicated to find just the right home for me.
During the past year I especially enjoyed looking at a website of a hotel in Monticello. Living near the beauty and calm of the water really appealed to me. Sometimes I would open a map of the Catskills and find a lake and search around that lake for affordable homes. One morning when conducting these searches online, I noticed that there was a lake in the mountains that carried the Hebrew name of my beloved father, Gavriel, may he rest in peace.
When I went to visit the area I was astounded by the beauty and was drawn to the possibility of making my home near the lake with my father’s name. It was an emotional experience for me every time I would travel near the lake and have to leave. Tears on the way in and tears on the way out! And I am not one that sheds tears so easily.
Last January I received a call from an agent with an e-mail full of beautiful pictures to follow up. She told me that there was a house near Lake Gavriel that she thought would be perfectly suited for us. It was not currently listed on the market because the owners did not want people entering the home during the bad winter weather. After hearing about my strong interest they were willing to make an exception and gave permission for the agent to give me a peek. Too excited to wait until the weekend, I had the agent arrange a meeting on a Tuesday at 7:00 in the morning at the property. I bravely checked into the hotel in Monticello the night before, walking through the ice and small piles of snow to get to my hotel room. I went to sleep happy to be on a special mission to secure my dream.
I will never be able to adequately explain my delight in stepping foot onto this unique piece of paradise in the mountains Every time I go there I experience such tremendous joy and gratitude. The scenery is breathtaking. I leave feeling like I have been given an infusion of strength and satisfaction. After years of searching, I was filled with gratitude to Hashem for bringing me this opportunity for a future in the mountains for our family.
I hadn’t noticed when I first saw the house or even the second time I entered the rooms during the walk through that there was something amazing waiting for me on the dresser in the master bedroom. The owners of the house, on behalf of the true Owner above, could not have left me anything more meaningful than what I discovered when we moved in.
After all the time and effort to find a mountain home it was like a sign from Above that I had made the right choice. After all the difficulties we had endured when our oldest son was recently diagnosed with a paralyzing spinal cord disease called transverse myelitis, I really needed something to lift my spirits.
As a young exchange student of just 16, I had to have my appendix removed in Japan in a backward hospital without my family. Kind high school students who saw me alone in my room united to make me a traditional Japanese get-well present of 1,000 paper cranes. I still cherish this mobile of birds on my dresser at home. It was a huge comfort to me while I was recuperating from my surgery. Now, over 40 years later, in my new mountain home, I found on the dresser more birds. There was a glass candle holder with two small white paper cranes resting inside it. It could be nothing other than a get-well present from the One Above.
With the comfort of the present on my dresser and the gift of the beauty surrounding my little cottage, I hope to continue to serve the Master of the World, taking devoted care of my children like He has taken care of me.