We Built a House. And We Are Still Together.

This resilience stuff is overrated. I have had it up to here with it all. I married someone who can’t sit still, always needs to be moving, changing things up and taking things on when the timing is less than ideal.

When life seems out of control it becomes about taking control of the things he can control. That means overextending and sometimes putting even more pressure on. It is all “worth it in the end” so they say.

We have been through cancer, death of a parent, trials and tribulations with our children, numerous house renovations and the latest an enormous construction project. There is no sitting still with my guy. I have these fantasies of sitting on a beach with a pina colada watching the world go by while he is in overdrive.


We met in our early 20’s, right out of college and he was already talking about home ownership and ultimately building a house some day. Ok, I was smitten and just listened and nodded without paying much attention. I should have seen the RED FLAG when he told me his favorite television show was “This Old House”. Blinding love took over and before I knew it I got sucked into his way of thinking.


Our first house was a small ranch, we barely could afford but we were happy to be homeowners. After the birth of our son, we began to quickly out grow the house and started these conversations about how we would renovate our ranch. Simultaneously, we looked at houses all over town and eventually decided to buy a bigger house for the same price as our current ranch and renovate and customize to our lifestyle.

Renovation #1 included a new kitchen/family room. We hired someone who promised to have it all done in 3 weeks and our first taste of construction was pretty seemless.

Renovation #2 came on the heels of my completion of a year of chaos after a cancer diagnosis and surgery and chemotherapy. This was a bigger project including adding rooms and expanding the second floor. The project was more challenging and disruptive, though we both worked full-time so did not have to put up with the mess during the day.  One day we received a call at work from our neighbors telling us that our tile guys were in the backyard fist fighting and later we learned our builder was always armed with a gun in his pocket. A year later we learned our shower was leaking into the dining room ceiling and our “tile guys” had never really tiled before this job.

Renovation #3. Lets undo the 2 other renovations . Space doesn’t flow and we don’t want to move. So, we gut the 1st floor, live next door in a three room cottage with two young boys and dog in tow. We  basically started over.


Life is never predictable. Chaos seems to be our middle name. We had a good 10 years with no big projects. So why not come up with a new project?

Time to build that house. We lucked out with a piece of property in Maine so why not build?  There is never a good time, so why not do it when we are at our busiest? Oh, and yes, Shari will be available, once the youngest goes off to college, to be the Project Manager. We have a plan.

This is all my husband talking.

They say a true test of a marriage is surviving building a house.


The cancer didn’t do us in so why not test the building a house theory. Well I am here to say so far we are still together. We have passed the test. And it was a tough one. Because it throws everything at you for an extended period of time. Chinese water torture comes to mind. It is that slow drip that builds and builds over time and can break you because it just never ends. (It has been over a year and counting). Alot went wrong. Bad news was delivered regularly. The reality of staying on budget ended before the house was even framed. I will spare you of the details only to say that resilience was the word of the day. Every day. Maybe the other challenges we have faced in our life prepared us for this one.

The good news is through it all, we were able to keep things in perspective. This is a house, not an illness or crisis. Our vision has been realized and despite the glitches, it is beautiful. This is where we will make new memories with our children and their children, someday. We are blessed.

I just hope my guy doesn’t come up with another project. At least not until the new house dust settles.



About Shari

I am a two-time cancer survivor and patient advocate. Diagnosed as a young adult, at age 25 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had to quickly face the reality of life’s curveballs. My treatment offered a potential cure while at the same time, underestimated the long term side effects including a secondary cancer (breast cancer) nine years later. Shortly after my breast cancer treatment ended, my youthful, seemingly healthy mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and passed a year later. I have lived the cancer experience as a patient and a family member/ caregiver and understand both sides. Life after treatment is often challenging emotionally and physically and there is a gap in providing needed support. I don’t consider cancer a gift as it is not something I would ever want to give to someone. Rather, I view cancer as an opportunity; one I received at an early point in my life to live intentionally, understanding how things can change at any moment. I live without regrets, fully understanding the gift and fragility of life.
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4 Responses to We Built a House. And We Are Still Together.

  1. revmichaelkane says:

    And it’s a lovely house, has he ever thought about hiking the Appalachian Trail? Figured I’d start some trouble, great piece my friend.


  2. Barbara says:

    Great piece, Shari. Have you every tried car pooling with your hubby? Aaauuuggghhhh!!!!


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