So Long to 4604 in 2014

house

I honestly never really thought I would do it.

But it was time.

The only home that I have never known, now belongs to another family.

December 10, 2014 we closed on my childhood home at 4604 Lincoln Rd, Louisville, KY 40220.

I really never had intentions of living as an adult in that home.  Truth told: I had put down a deposit my first condo in May of 2006. About two weeks later, my mother passed away from ovarian cancer.  It was three days before my birthday. Her house, my childhood home, was paid off, in a great neighborhood and a great overall home. I was able to get my money back from the condo downpayment and move back into the place where many memories were created.

After I moved back into my childhood home, at the age of 30, I thought I may stay in the house forever and ever.

But, then I fell in love. I fell in love with a guy that was joining the Army. Army life = military life = moving every couple of years.

What a surprise it was for us to get our first duty station in Fort Knox, KY. My boyfriend, who became my husband, drove 45 minutes between our house and the place that holds the gold.

My house became our home. We met online through match.com and our first face to face meeting was at my front door.  Our first kiss was in the basement.  He proposed on one knee in that same spot.  Both of my children were conceived in that house. My son was raised in that house. Memories upon memories upon memories.

Well, hold on –

It’s not the only place I’ve lived.

I actually started my life in Mallgate apartments.  We first lived in an apartment and then moved to a townhouse at 7107 Kings Court, Louisville, KY 40207.  We didn’t move to my “childhood home” until I was seven years old.

Yes, in 1983 is when the memories started.

One of my first memories involved a trip to the emergency room.  I remember my mother driving me to our new house.  We were pulling up to the intersection of Browns Lane and Dutchman’s Lane (right in front of the hospital) and we saw my old school bus.

I pointed to it.  My mother looked.

My mother hit the car in front of us.

Of all things that could happen, I bit in my tongue and had to get stitches in my tongue. Yes, dear friends, you heard that right.

Our house at 4604 was known as the house with the steepest driveway.  My parents used to yell at kids who tried to ride their bikes down it.  Our house also had a balance beam in the back.  My father built it for me.  BEST. GIFT. EVER! Our backyard was attached to a farm, which became a golf course, and there were yearly steeplechase races. My parents loved to host gatherings.

Birthday parties. Sleepovers. Science projects. Thanksgivings. Christmas. Punishments. Prom. Graduation. Sickness. Cancer. Tragedy. Sleep. Joy. Love.

The majority of my childhood, teenhood (is that a word?!) and adulthood memories were wrapped up in that one building.  I had convinced myself that we would never part.

But I had to.

4604 JulyThe military called us this year to move to Fort Bragg, NC – home of the 82nd Airborne. When we move over the summer I had every intention of holding onto the house and renting it out. But, once all of my items and memories where removed from the house, I quickly realized that all that remained were bricks.

The memories came with me.

The house remained.

When I realized that, I was fine to sell the house and move on.

4604 sold without me ever making a trip to Louisville. I actually signed all paperwork electronically. Our family came in town the week after the official closing.  The only thing I asked was to be able to walk through the house one last time.

On Fri4604 last shotday, December 19, 2014, I met the new owners of the house.  It was a young couple with twin toddler girls. As I walked through the house one last time, I knew I did the right thing.  There were no tears shed. I was happy. I had my husband, son, and infant daughter with me and realized that as long as we are together, wherever we lay our head will be our home.

The house that Steve and Lillian built helped to mold me into the person, mother and wife I am today.  I am proud that a new family will be able to create their own memories. I am excited that my family will be able to travel the world. I know that regardless of where we go, 4604 and the memories will always remain.

Advertisements

Facebook Reunion

Facebook Reunion

Apr 11-4I survived my speech last week at Jefferson Technical Community College and everything went well.  I briefly mentioned a Facebook conversation that I had randomly received and here’s what it said (please note: I have never met, seen or heard of the person in this exchange)

Chris Wright March 21 at 2:20pm
“Hi Michelle, You don’t know me but I have to ask you a question. Your name and face kind of flew out at me when I saw it on my FB page and a rush of memories from the early 80′s came rushing back, so I looked at your pics and saw that your mother’s name was Lillian, but saw no pics or mention of your father; was your father by any chance Dr. Gary Yeager who worked at JCC in the early 80′s? If so, I worked with him at JCC during the time that you were born and remember sooooooo many wonderful stories about you as you were growing and what a proud father he was. If not, I so apologize for this intrusion. Please let me know. He was such a wonderful man. ~Chris Wright”

Michelle Yeager March 21 at 2:26pm
“Hello Chris, my father worked at JCC but his name was Thomas (Steve) Yeager. He was there from 1976 until he died in 1993.”

Chris Wright March 21 at 2:34pm
“Steve!! That’s it; Steve!!! I am so, so sorry. He worked with Gary Steedly in the continuing education dept, I was Gary’s admin at time; I mixed up their names. I am so sorry. But Michelle, I have goose bumps. I actually remember when you were born and as you were growing he would come in with some of the most awesome proud father stories. Two in particular that stay in my mind… one, the morning he came to work just laughing so hard because he said that every time he left to go to work, you would start singing “My Baby’s leaving on the train… until he comes back home….” ?? (i can’t remember that exact song, but he was just hilarious and so proud) And then… during the royal wedding of Princess Diana he said you watched every detail and were absolutely a princess and would marry the same way. Oh Michelle, it’s so awesome to have known those stories of your very early years and to have known such a wonderful man; I absolutely looked up to Dr. Yeager as a great inspiration. It’s wonderful to see you now and have those memories. May I friend you on here? My name is Chris Wright and I’m a web producer at WHAS11; that’s how I saw your exchange with Renee Murphy. I’m goose bumpy right now. hah. ;-)

Michelle Yeager March 21 at 3:11pm
“We definitely can keep in touch. He passed away my senior year of high school and my mother passed away from ovarian cancer five years ago so I cherish all stories I hear!
It’s interesting that you mentioned the royal wedding. I am actually getting married the day after Prince William’s wedding and Renee Murphy is my maid of honor”

…..And the conversation continued.  Who would have ever thought that a simple post on a friends page would connect me with someone that shared some amazing childhood memories of my father especially right before I get married.  To the tune of Walt Disney – “It’s a small world after all!”

April 2011

My Biggest Speech Yet

My Biggest Speech Yet!
I’ve been going since I was a kid.  30 years to be exact.
I was four years old when I first started attending because I was FORCED to.  There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  But, as time went on, I found that I truly looked forward to attending and would try to re-arrange my schedule in any way to attend.
I’m talking about the Student Acheivement (formerly known as Black Achievers) Program at Jefferson Community College (now JCTC).  You may question why I’ve attended this event for the most part of 30 years.  No, it hasn’t taken me 30 years to complete a degree.  I’ve been a part of the program for that long because my father, the late Thomas Stephen Yeager, created the program and the Black Affairs Advisory Council at JCC.
I can tell you, though, its a very uplifting ceremony and you hear stories of people that have overcome odds to better themselves and further their education.  The past several years there have been guest speakers and I have taken photos for OnyxLouisville.  But, to my surprise, this year I was asked to play a larger role.  I – Michelle Yeager – am going to be the guest speaker.
At first I was on cloud nine to be asked, but then all of the emotions hit me. Here’s a program founded by my father, that I’ve attended numerous times in the audience, that my mother (and then myself) passed out the T. Stephen Yeager Scholarship at and now they are asking me to be the featured speaker at the 30th Year of the event.  Whoa!!
I think for days before starting to write my speech.  I want to make it just right.  I don’t really know what to say.  Do I write about my personal accomplishments and success?  Do I talk about the great influence my parents were to me and the community?  Do I tell a bunch of knock knock jokes and hope they get it?
I finally figured out which direction to go based on a Facebook message from someone I’ve never met….  I can’t share that email with you right now because it’s the basis of my speech.  But, you’re more than welcome to come and listen to it tonight at 7:00pm at the Student Achievement Program in the new Health Science Building at JCTC.  Although I’ve given plenty of speeches, this one feels like the most important one yet – how do you say THANK YOU to people that mean so much to you?!
March 2011

Cracker Banana

Cracker banana

Sept10-3Banana – I was sitting in the back of a meeting, minding my own business, and enjoying the great dinner they provided from Sincerely Yours.  I’m a lover of chocolate dessert, but the only thing they provided was banana pudding.  I don’t like fresh bananas although banana flavoring can sometimes add a kick to foods.  So, after eating the nicely seasoned chicken and vegetables, I decided to get a small bowl of banana pudding.

The meeting carried on and I decided to take a bite of my dessert.  I had a decent size scoop, placed it into my mouth and was prepared to continue listening.  But, AS SOON AS the pudding touched my taste buds I had an instant memory of my mother.  It was this sudden flashback of the banana pudding my mother used to make when I was a child.  I had completely forgotten that she ever made it, but the second I tasted this pudding – all the memories came flooding back!  You better believe that I went and got another larger portion of the pudding and even took some home to eat later!

Cracker  – It was a typical outing last Friday.  My boyfriend and I were in Seymour, IN and decided to eat dinner at Cracker Barrel.  I’d already had Cracker Barrel twice that week for lunch with some colleagues, but there aren’t many options in Seymour.  We browsed over the menu.  He ordered the grilled catfish and I decided on some pancakes.  We laughed and chatted as we waited for the food to arrive.  Once it did, we grabbed each other’s hands and he said a blessing for our food, families and our relationship.

We continued on eating and laughing.  Then a man walked up to us.  He put his hand on my boyfriend’s back and said, “My family and I saw that you prayed before you ate your food and we think that’s a wonderful thing.  May God bless you both!”  I was taken aback to be complimented on something we take for granted as a regular practice of our day.  However,  it also felt good to be noticed for something positive.  So often we take time to gossip and waste our energy on the negative images and actions of others.  When’s the last time you complimented someone on something you appreciate about them?!

M.Y. September 2010

Hold the Trash

Hold The Trash

Sept10-2Even after four years, I still have not cleared all of my parents things out of my childhood home where I now live.  There are a lot of things.  And if it’s in a room in which I never enter, it bothers me none.

However, I finally decided to sort through the Christmas boxes in my basement.  I made two stacks – 1. I may use these to decorate this holiday season 2. these decorations would never be a part of my celebration.

Once I’d gone through about 20 boxes and bags, there was an old, brown paper bag sitting on the floor hiding in a corner of my basement.  When I first glanced in it, all I saw was an empty video reel about size of a 45 rpm record.  I was getting ready to toss it into my trash pile, but my fingers kept digging deeper inside.  Tucked under the empty reel were about 10 blue video reels the size of the bottom of soda can.  And the reels had labels.  One said “1979, Michelle’s Birthday”. Another was labeled “1980 trip to Georgia”.

Hidden in this trashed brown paper bag, were treasures that I could never re-create.  Inside this simple object were memories of my childhood.  In my hands I now held videos of my parents – two people that I will never physically be able to see again on this Earth.  I was on Cloud 9!!!!!  I immediately drove to the closest video store to see if they could transfer the reels to DVD.

I nervously waited for a week in hopes that the videos would contain some footage.  Our basement was flooded in the late 90′s and a lot of things were ruined.  Since those videos were found on the basement floor, I didn’t know if they had been damages as well.  As I picked the videos, I rushed home and down to my basement to see what had been discovered.  I saw footage of several of my birthday parties, a recording when my dad taped my second grade class performing plays, a family gathering with my cousins, aunts and uncle and my friends and I playing outside at Mallgate.

Only about 3 of the 9 videos actually had sound, but I had a smile on my face the entire time.  For the first time in 18 years (since my father passed away) I was able to watch my parents together in action.  What a blessing to run across that bag.  If you haven’t done so already – take plenty of pictures and videos of your family.  You may not feel you personally have a use for them, but I can guarantee you that once you have left this earth, the people left behind will cherish them!

(PS: If anyone is an old school techie that has an interest in a Sankyo Super 8 Sound-500, let me know)

M.Y. September 2010

Fit For a King

Fit For a King

Apr10-4I remember as a child, that whenever I would make the trek with my family from Louisville to Lexington, I always wanted to drive the route that had the castle. I thought it was the most amazing creation. Who would have imagined that a castle would be in the middle of some horse parks?

The history said to be behind the castle is: Rex and Caroline Bogaert Martin got the idea for the castle during a vacation in Europe. The Martins initially had trouble finding suitable acreage for the new home, but finally purchased 53 acres along U.S. 60 and Pisgah Pike. Plans were drawn in 1968 and ground was broken the next year. But in 1975, while the castle was still under construction, the Martins divorced. Whether the castle’s progress had anything to do with the separation is part of its mystery. Divorce records give only an oblique reference to the castle acreage.

Tom Post recently purchased the castle and remodeled it into “Kentucky’s Premier Luxury Tourist Inn available for nightly accommodations, weddings, corporate events and personal occasions.” I was honored to be invited there for a fundraiser this month for the Home of the Innocents.

It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. As a child I dreamed of being a princess who gets rescued by my prince in that castle. I had to see what was behind those walls. I just needed one sneak peak.

And here’s what I saw – beautiful chandeliers, fabulous artwork and “old skool” furniture that looked like medieval time. It reminded me of a fancy hotel. It also reminded me of when you visited a nice store as a child and your parents said not to touch anything.

But here’s the thing – the inside didn’t mesmerize me. I wasn’t trying to plan my honeymoon there. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice inside. I would recommend others to visit. However, it’s the outside of the castle that gave me something to daydream about on an otherwise boring drive. It’s the outside of the castle that contains all the magic. While my prince was not found inside the castle, my fantasies remain on the outside.

M.Y. April 2010