Our second homeowner is Rita Gurry, a single woman who lives in Manasquan on a fairly busy street less than a mile from the beach. She comes from a large Irish family and it didn’t take long for Rita to tell me her mom hailed from County Tipperary and her dad from County Sligo. In fact it doesn’t take long for Rita to tell you anything – she’s an open book and she likes to talk. She’s also one of six kids who all seem to be pretty close. Her sister Mary lives around the corner and some of her brothers pitched in to help renovate Rita’s house less than a year ago.
Super Storm Sandy hit not long after that renovation and Rita’s modest two story house took on two to three feet of water. It is a total loss and the house will come down in a few weeks but surprisingly, Rita, like so many others along the Jersey Shore, are taking all this in stride as they move forward. She attributes her attitude in part to her many years as a cancer nurse, seeing so many people get bad news. “I’m not one of those patients, waiting around to hear bad news,” she says. “I can control my life and the outcome of this storm, so I’m going to move on and build a new house.”
Rita tells me how much she loves her house, and not for its finer touches or even for the new floors she put down just before Sandy struck. She loves her home because it’s where her family gathers, where her friends meet to talk and socialize on her front porch, and because it’s where she cared for her mother before she passed away. I suspect those are some of the same reasons we all love our homes, and as I look at her overturned furniture and mold-covered walls my questions about rebuilding fade and I start to look forward to the rebuild. Old or new, her house has many more memories to make. So we plow ahead.