Willoughby Court

Gen and Gloria didn't stay at their Parham Road garden apartment for long. As a result of her service in WWII, Gen had a VA mortgage loan guarantee that she'd never used. She also had some money to spare from her divorce settlement with Doug. Gloria had a solid record of gainful employment and managed money well. The two of them were good credit risks. They bought a house on southside Richmond.

Gen and Gloria bought a modest three-bedroom, one-level, brand-new house on a willow oak-shaded corner lot, in a brand new subdivision, a couple of blocks south of Hull Street Road. The house was not too far from Midlothian, where southside's car dealerships cluster along the "Midlothian Motor Mile." They mortaged themselves jointly to the tune of around $47,000 for it, but with their respectable jobs, they could handle it. Their cars were paid for, so the mortgage was essentially their only expense, beyond utilities, gas, and groceries. Gen was sitting on a pile of money left over from her divorce settlement.


Additional income flowed in from the federal government. Even though Gen was working and had repeatedly notified the Office of Workers Compensation Programs of that fact, the Department of Labor continued to fund her worker's compensation claim. Gen was comfortable. She spent money when she wanted to, but she never overspent. Most of the pile was securely invested in moderate-risk long-term financial instruments.

I don't understand how this worked for Gen, but she was always financially comfortable, except for several years when she and Doug were trying to put braces on the teeth of all those kids in their blended family. Money flowed to her magically and generously--first from her mother's estate, then from her grandparents' estate. Gen was not an extravagant woman, although she appreciated quality and nice clothes. Her wages kept the lights on and put food on the table for her children. She managed her money surprisingly well, especially for someone who couldn't balance her checkbook. Perhaps she just never shared her angst about money, but I never had the sense that she worried much about it. I chalk it up to a lucky angel that sits on her shoulder.

At the new house, Gen set to work planting azaleas and building garden beds. Gloria put up a fence, a shed, and sturdy locks on the doors and windows, the better to "keep the family out." They bought and stocked an aquarium. Their tap water had a pH imbalance that didn't agree with the fresh-water tropical fish liked, so Gen had to change it out several times a week. Always conservative, she applied the water to her azaleas, which thrived on the slightly acidic fluid.