Life changes

The Mérida trip of February 2014 passed and there was no schedule on the horizon when we would return.  We went on a few other trips as Angie continued to push us to keep traveling to new places around the world. Mérida would have to wait.

Christmas of 2015 brought some of the biggest changes to our lives and would make our world a different place. The day after we celebrated Christmas with my family my dad was admitted to the hospital. He had a heart attack. In fact, he had probably had numerous heart attacks recently, but my dad is not someone who ever has liked to be sick or go to doctors, he just shook it off. Probably just some pneumonia, he figured.

He was in the hospital through New Year's Eve, when they would run him through a couple of tests and small surgeries to get his heart beating right again. He was doing well, but they wanted to run one more test on him and put him under for it. I thought it seemed like he'd been through enough for one day, considering he's nearly 70 years old and just had a series of heart attacks but the doctors "knew better."

I got off work on New Year's Eve and me and Angie went up to the hospital just as he was being wheeled back to his room. He seemed in good spirits for a few minutes and then, the shit hit the fan.

Right before our eyes he suffered a stroke. During the last test they stirred up some plaque in an artery and it went to his brain and that was that. He was suddenly agitated and didn't seem to recognize people and our world was upside-down in the snap of a finger.

For days we weren't sure if he would ever recover, or if he was just lost to us, like an Alzheimer patient. 

Over the days he slowly recovered bit by bit. He couldn't speak very coherently, but he was still functioning well physically and mentally and was gaining back strength and a bit of his speech and recognition.

2016 would be a long and torturous year.

Dad suffered multiple seizures and had multiple heart operations, and is still in the stages of heart failure. I spent so much time at the hospital I started to think I should just clock in and start collecting a paycheck.

I had to help my parents put their house up for sale, they could no longer live in the country, dad had to be airlifted in at one point at the cost of $15,000. I found them a 55+ apartment complex in town for them to live in and cleaned out and got everything ready for auction at the farm. The house sold, until it didn't. Then it sold again, but even that was a very rocky experience.

Dad was still driving at this point, against my advice to my mom, but they were adults. In early 2017, when he had pneumonia that doctors failed to diagnose repeatedly, he passed out and sideswiped a parked car. That was the end of his license for a while.

Everything about 2016 was a disaster. Well, almost everything.

A lot of this affected Angie pretty hard. Sometimes in bad ways, she definitely saw her anxiety spike. But I think it also spoke to our mortality a bit and she started seeing how important Mérida and buying a house was for me. That retiring young and enjoying our lives wasn't just a lazy dream by a person with no ambition, but something genuinely worth pursuing.

My dad was still working as a mechanic when he had his heart attack. And for awhile, after the stroke, he had hoped to improve enough to go back to work. Not because he needed the job. Just that it was what he did, it's what defined him. And that's perfectly fine, but it's not something I want for myself.

In August of 2016, after my parents were moved and the auction was over and it seemed like the farmhouse was in the closing stages of being sold, I was back online looking at houses in Mérida.

I mean, I never really stopped looking. I would look for a while, then take a break. Then look for a while, etc.

And in August I found an amazing house for $175,000. Casa Limonera it was called. Beautifully designed and fully furnished. I sent the link to Angie, like I always have in the past. Instead of the normal responses like "Yeah, that's nice" or "wow, I really like that." This time I got, "yeah, you should buy it."


"Take a couple days off from work, fly down and look at it. If you like it. Buy it. I'll pay for your flight if you pay for the place you stay."

She couldn't take the time off to come with, but she trusted me to make the decision.

So, we booked the flight and I found a house rental, Casa Koala, right across the street from the house we were interested in buying. I contacted Isaac again. Would he remember me after almost 2 years? I think he did, vaguely. And we were all set. I would arrive in mid-September, about five weeks from the time I first saw the house online. It was the quickest I could get out.

Maybe 2016 was finally starting to swing in our favor!

About two weeks before I was set to fly down, Isaac emailed me. Casa Limonera had sold. Then my dad had another seizure, and everything was in doubt. Maybe it was best to cancel.

Dad recovered pretty quickly from this latest seizure and Angie convinced me to go ahead and go. Make a list of places to see with Isaac and just get away for a bit.

I made a list and sent it to Isaac. It included renovated houses but also quite a few houses that were in need of renovation.

Part of my map with houses I was interested in.
Our feelings had slowly begun to shift over the years. Maybe buying something and working with an architect to have a house built to our specifications was going to be the best choice for us. It was worth a look, anyways.

So, now all I had to do was wait. Wait and hope that things wouldn't fall apart further.