Being both widowed, Rich and I met about 10 years before he was due to retire. He often said that once he retired, he wanted to move to Florida and spend as much time as possible, fishing! I was hesitant thinking Florida was not much more than heat and bug and I really, really don't like bugs! While he visited Florida many times with his first wife and their children, I never had the opportunity to set foot in the Sunshine State. I wasn't too concerned about the heat because I knew wherever we lived, our house would have air conditioning. I was more concerned about the bugs. As I said, I hate bugs! Big or small – doesn't matter. I just don't like them. Being quite comfortable in my New York home, I saw no reason to leave it. Then the unthinkable happened. My husband had an accident while at work that put him into immediate retirement. After his accident, we began making several trips to Florida to check out the different areas in order to find a place upon which we both agreed to build a new home. I was still very skeptical about moving but will admit that I enjoyed our vacations. We traveled from New York down the east coast and up the west coast. During one of these vacations, my sister-in-law volunteered to drive us around the areas near her home. That's when we came to a little town called Punta Gorda that stopped us in our tracks! How could you fall in love with a lump of dirt? Intuition, I guess. It just felt right. We put a deposit on it. Two years later, we paid off the remaining loan and hired a builder. While we found the area to be a quaint little town that has several great restaurants and a civic association that offers many things to keep you busy, we found more. We found home. Our neighbors are friends who are eager to welcome you into their homes for coffee, dinner, and/or lunch and yet aren't intrusive. They respect our privacy but let us know their doors are always open. Almost one year later, we moved into our beautiful Florida home and I was totally surprised and the lack of bugs! Except once every seven years! Lovebugs swarm the area and I do mean swarm! The swarms are so huge, most sensible people stay inside for two or three days until the volume of bugs begins to wane. But that's another story. We moved into our home in April of 1999 and the first thing we did was organize and host a Christmas party for our neighbors. There were only six couples, but the party was fun. We made new friends. Then we joined the civic association and the fishing club. We met more people and made more friends. Nineteen years later, we made the decision to halt our Christmas parties. At our party lasts year, 88 people were invited and 88 people attended. Yes, we made that many friends. I define a friend as a person who I can call anytime day or night and they'll be there. All I'd have to say is, “Something happened. Can you come?” Without question, anyone I'd call would show up. That's a friend and that's why I can call all these people my friends. From living on a dirt road on Long Island New York to a Florida suburb was a huge change for me but it turned out all for the best. I can no longer see a home anywhere else. The climate is perfect. On occasion, we'll have a scorching, summer but many other states do as well. We live on waterfront property, so fishing is as easy as stepping out the back door, off the dock and on the boat. And, last but not least, is the social aspect. I knew many people n New York but none were as friendly as those I met here in Florida. They are more than friends; they are my family. It took us two years to find this little town but since moving here, there is no doubt that it's a beautiful place to live and anyone living here calls Punta Gorda paradise, located just under the rainbow.
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