|Together then : Larry and Becky Burckmyer|
Last week, I heard one of the most extraordinary stories of transition. It starts out grim, but you’ll be cheered by where it ends up.
|Alone now: Becky gave Marblehead home new purpose|
“In 2001 in March, my brother died. In August, my mother died. And in October, Larry tried to cross [Boston’s] Storrow Drive and was hit by a car.”
After nine weeks in rehab, “he came back in body anyway.” After that, Becky’s career as a business writing author and consultant pretty much ended, as she cared for her husband and, swept up by his situation, became a hospice volunteer and studied chaplaincy.
That is not the end of her story.
“After the tumult and the shouting died, I realized that I was sitting in this very big ark of a house in Marblehead [Mass.] and I wasn’t sure what to do next. I thought maybe it would be appropriate to downsize and let somebody else raise their kids by the water, as we had raised ours. A couple of people suggested an alternative scenario. They said, ‘Becky, your house is a teardown. Somebody’s going to rip it down and put in new wiring, new plumbing, and new lighting and they’re going to live in it about two weeks a year.’
And I said, ‘That’s great, I’m not moving.’”
Weighing how to handle her sprawling seaside house and its hefty utility bills --- and how to share it now that her kids were grown -- an idea hit her while sitting at a traffic light.
“I will open a bed and breakfast in my house and anyone who wants to can come.”
A life coach (gift from her daughter) said “your Myers-Briggs shows you’re an extrovert and it might work.” Her son, with a new business degree, did spreadsheets on income and profit. Other women who run B&Bs in the community “told me what to charge for rooms and how to fix breakfast.” And a handyman plunged in to “put this house together again.”
Astoundingly, within four months of Larry's death, she had opened Marblehead on Harbor. “I look back and I think, ‘Good Lord, you’re supposed to sit tight, aren’t you?”
Even as the women who knew her as an 18-year-old so many years ago applauded her spunk and her success –adding to the support she has received from so many -- Becky was torn. Privately, she regretted that she was not back at her B&B that weekend greeting her newest guests. But, she’d found someone to step into her role for the weekend.
It was okay.
And, oh, I forgot to add: a few months ago, in another surprise, Becky discovered an old friend on Match.com. He didn’t know she was widowed; she didn’t know he was widowed and neither realized they lived within driving distance. Theirs will be another story to write about some day.