Aug 1, 2018

Almost Home Lodge ~

Your life does not get better by chance.  It gets better by change.
Kindness is doing ordinary things with extraordinary love...

To everyone at Almost Home.  Thank you for the memories.
Thank you for opening my eyes to experiences beyond my
 imagination and for opening your hearts and home to us.

 Thank you for being my amazing tenants, but most
of all thank you for becoming family to me.

The last year and a  half has been a privilege and an honor 
to have been a part of your lives and to have gotten to
 know each of you.  For that I will forever be grateful.

Arvid and I decided to become hotel owners and move to 
Branson, Missouri.  At the time our knowledge of how to run a 
hotel was ZERO.  We made this move mainly because Brutus our 
kitty died, and I was not able to cope with the sadness and all 
the memories.  We both needed something that would occupy
 our time and our minds 100%   Little did we know.

We also thought that it was a good move financially.  
Come to Branson.  Run a couple of hotels.  Make money and
 leave.  Well not everything turned out to be exactly
 like that.  Yes, financially it was good for us.

But something happened in between all of this. Something
I did not expect.  Something I did not count on.  Something
 beautiful.  Almost Home is mine.  Rather was mine. I ran 
it from day one and I made it one big family.  Yes, I did.
I became very attached to everyone at Almost Home.

My "tenants" became more than that.  They became
 family.  I am the type of person who loves people.  I will 
talk to anyone and everyone.  From day one at Almost Home 
I chatted up the tenants.  Some opened up fairly soon.  Others 
took a bit longer, but eventually it happened.  A bond was 
established.  They became my family here in Branson.

From December 1st 2016 to December of 2017 I ran Almost Home
 by myself.  Arvid was running the other hotel we owned.  We were
 both busy, exhausted and bone tired by the end of the day. 

 On the other hand, it was wonderful to "go to work" everyday.
  To see everyone.  To talk to everyone.  Almost Home
 became my salvation.  It became my everyday purpose,  
and I loved every single moment.  It was family.

I took an interest in everyone's life and tried to best 
do what I thought was right for everyone.  I became "involved"
  Everyone says that when you run a business you must
 NOT get involved personally.  Well I am not everyone,
and I did get involved personally.  No regrets there. 

I would do it all over again.  I thought that I was the one
 doing something good and kind for everyone.  Little did I 
realize that it was my tenants who were changing my life.

Not to brag, but Arvid and I had a very different lifestyle 
before coming to Branson.  Compared to Branson our lifestyle 
would be considered "glamorous"  Did I miss it?  

After getting involved with Almost Home, I did not miss
 it for one second.  The few times we did go back to Florida for a 
visit I wanted to come back home.  Yes, home for me was Branson. 

My tenants who did not have much material wise had so 
much more.  They had compassion, kindness, generosity 
humility, and a heart so big that it was impossible
to not get caught up in this "new" life.  

I looked forward to each and everyday to go to Almost Home.  
I woke up in the mornings with a smile and a purpose.

I looked forward to talking to the tenants.  To taking the mail to 
them, making sure everything was running well and that 
everyone was happy.  If they were happy I was happy.

From December of 2016 to July of 2018 Almost Home 
was mine.  Today it now belongs to Tiffany and Chris. Both
Arvid  and I are happy with the decision we made. 

 For me it was not an easy decision, but because it is Tiffany
 and Chris that decision became much easier.  You see I love 
Almost Home.  I would never have sold to just anyone. 

 Offers to buy the hotel we have had many, but I did not 
want someone to just buy it and not have a clue as to what
it involves.  Especially if they were going to be absentee owners.
  I wanted someone who would be like me and put their
hearts and soul into it, and one thing was clear, they always
 had to make sure the tenants were happy. 

Arvid and I built up a reputation at AH, making it THE place
everyone wants to be.  I made Tiffany and Chris promise to never
 forget that.  We do not rent to just anyone.  We at AH have
 always been selective and it has to remain that way.

We saw first hand what happens when someone buys a place and
is never there. It is not going to happen to Almost Home.
I worked too hard to get it to where it is today to
just "give it up" to just about anyone.

Almost Home is the best long term stay in Branson.  It didn't
 just get there we worked to make it so.  I gave it my all
 100% and more.  I know Chris and Tiffany will be
 doing the same.  I have their word that they will take
 care of it and of the tenants the way we did. 

As we give over ownership of Almost Home to Tiffany 
and Chris, I am very sad.  We have many personal reasons 
why we are doing this and also both Arvid and I like
 to try new things. This is a chapter in my life I will
 always remember with fond memories.

 I NEVER expected this to be so difficult.  We have
run many businesses and when the time was right we left,
but this one is difficult.  Almost Home was not just
 a business.  I gave my heart and soul to it.

No matter where I go in life, this will forever be one of 
the best chapters.  It was not easy, but on the other hand what
 is.  I have made friends that I will find difficult to say goodbye
to. A piece of my heart will forever be in Branson.

To all at Almost Home, you have my phone number.  
We are connected via FBook and messenger.  Know that
 if ever you need to talk to me I will always be available.  
It is because of all of you that today I am a better person.  

You all have taught me some of the greatest lessons in life.  
You have shown me that there is so much more to life.  You
 have shown me how people can be so happy with so little.  

You have always been kind and you all loved me.  Just know 
that I love you all as well, and no matter where life takes 
me you will always have a special place in my heart.
  My life today is better because of all of you.

To some of my most memorable "tenants" aka friends:

Shaun and Laura.  I loved our little chats whenever I got the mail.  
I hope Tinker is doing great and know that you both are just great
 people.  Laura, thank you for all the goodies you gave me throughout
 the time I was there.  Your baking and cooking always made
 the office smell wonderful.  I wish you both the best always.

Miss Wynette.  You're now in Colorado, but thank you for 
entertaining me everyday with your crazy, wacky stories.
  I loved them all and I love you and miss you.  Can't wait to
 hear who you will be suing next.  Just glad it was not us :)

Miss Burton:   I have a soft spot for you.  Maybe because of 
the way I see you and Bridgette.  The only kitty I know that gets strolled. 
 It breaks my heart to leave you, but I know you will be in good hands 
with Tiffany and Chris.  Bridgette will continue getting a little package
 every month with her Fancy Feast.  You know I love Bridgette as well.

Brittany:  Just be good and stay out of trouble.  You are a good girl.

Andrea:  Though you no longer live at Almost Home, 
both Arvid and I have gotten to know you very well.  You have a 
kind heart.  We will continue to see you on our Sunday outings.

Ricky:  I usually saw you just once a month when you'd come in to pay.
Thank you for being such a good tenant and for being part of our family.

Joe and Cindy:  It was not love at first sight, but I'm glad to say that our
 relationship is a  good one today. I wish you both and Jethro all the best.  

Jack:  Not the easiest of people, but I love you.  You made 
me laugh with all your craziness.  Our very own Jackson Cash 
(Johnny Cash) at Almost Home.  And a darn good one. Please go
 easy on Tiffany and Chris.  Wishing you success always.

Ben and Jamie:  Never had an issue with either of you.  Ben 
when you first called me asking to move into Almost Home I 
was having dinner with Arvid, but I left the restaurant 
and came right over to meet you.  Never regretted it.

Ms. Faye.  When I took over I did not see you for months.  
Your payment was automatic and still is, but then we met and 
that was that.  I love when you would call me on the phone and 
say "honey can you bring me a roll of quarters?" Cracker 
Barrel has a gem in you and I know you let them know it.

Micheal W.  I remember the day you called from St. Louis saying
 you wanted to stay only at Almost Home.  I told you that I do not
 rent to anyone over the phone, but as we talked there was something 
about you that told me, "he is a good one."  I was not wrong.

Elisabeth, Phil and Jessie:  In the time I’ve been at
Almost Home you and Phil became good friends. I have
 seen you go through many a difficult times, yet you
 managed to pull yourself back together.

  I was there with you a the hospital with Phil.
Sadly he didn't make it, he died.  I saw you go through grief
and because I have been through the same I understood your pain.
  I just want you to know that I am grateful for your friendship.
 I love your Jessie and I hope to visit with him and you.
Please know that I only wish you the best in life.

Ken:  you have always been an exemplary tenant.
 Super happy for you in your new venture.

Mary and Jack:  Mary I will definitely miss you.
  I know you will be OK, but still.  Mary you are sometimes
 way too kind and because of that you get taken advantage
of at times.  I will always think of you.  I know you
love hot dogs and Jack likes chocolates.  Pineapple
 and jello.  Some of your favorite things.

Ron:  Ron the day you and Randy came to Almost Home
 was a Saturday. It was not yet 10am. I was at the outlets when
 Tony called to say someone was looking for a room.

 One of the best decisions I made was to drop the shoes
I was about to buy and go straight to the hotel.  You
 sure have made me laugh a lot.Hope that no one
 hacks into your accounts anytime soon :)

Leslie, Chaz & Angel:  Always prompt on their payments.
Leslie was always quiet, but there was/is something
 about her one can't help but liking.  Together she
 Chaz and Angel were a pleasure to have.

Angel was the youngest tenant at AH.  Just 4 years old.
  She loved coming to the office in search of goodies
 I had for her. She will always hold a special
place in my heart.  My little Angel.

Dennis:  you came all the way from Florida.
I remember you calling me a week before coming to Branson
asking me to make sure we had a room for you.  At the
time we didn’t, but as you got closer to Branson a
 room became available.  Arvid and I are very
happy to have you as part of our AH family.

Lane:  You’re no longer with us.  Unfortunately,
 I’m not sure where you are.  You always told me that
 “I was the best thing to have happened to AH.” You came
 down every am for coffee.  When you stopped coming
I started taking it to you.  I hope you are OK.
Thank you Lane for all your kindness.

Ramona:  I got to know you much better just before
 you left us.  Hard working always.

Wayne:  I hope things work out for you and the kids.
Loved our VERY long intense conversations.
Wish things would have worked out better

Brandon:  all I can say is never judge a person before
getting to know them.  One of the nicest persons.
Tattoos and all.  Excellent tenant.

Melvin:  So much to say about Melvin.  Special. Genuine.  Sincere.
One of a kind and one of the funniest and most honest persons
we have met.  Talking to Melvin is an experience all by it self.
 When Melvin talks it’s like storytelling.  He has a
way with words.  I have laughed and laughed.

 Melvin, it wasn’t not easy, but you know we had to do it.
 I hope you know that AH is the place for you.  Melvin Arvid
and I respect you and have grown very fond of you.  I will definitely
 miss you and your unique way of expressing yourself.

I will forever have a smile on my face when I think of your
stories.  So far my favorite is about the rats in St. Louis.
Based on your description they were the size of a big cat.

Jenny:  what can I say about her?  Depending on the day
Jenny either likes you or not, but underneath her “tough”
exterior she’s a good person.  You just have to look deeply.

Sharon:  from day one what stood out was Sharon’s loyalty
to Almost Home. She is just as protective today as she was when
 I first took over.  Sharon is a kind hearted and good person.

Donna:  Donna’s main goal in life is the care of her
 grandson.  Fiercely protective of him.  She was not
 one to come much to the office, but the times she
did we always enjoyed a lengthily conversation.

Brenden:  best known for his catchphrase, “I’m chasing
down some people who owe me money.”  Always late in
 payments, but Always came through. His personality
 made up for much.  Yes. I like him very much
 and have always enjoyed talking to him.

Kevin and Patty:  it took some time but we eventually
understood each other.  They keep to themselves and
 have never been anything but good tenants.

Murphy:  Murphy is now living in Texas, but we formed
 a very good relationship.  He was always worried that I was going
 to catch a cold.  He would ask if I had on thermal clothing.  Yes,
Murphy was special and I’m really happy he decided to make
the move to Texas. Thanks Murphy for always worrying
about me, and no I still have not been in the pool at
Almost Home.  I miss you and wish you the best!

Miss Barbara:  no longer at Almost Home.  She is back
 home in Florida, but for the year she was with me I grew
 very attached to her.  It never bothered me to clean her room,
nor taking care of her kitty.  She loved donuts and I made sure
 she had them all the time.  Yes I know it was not good, but...

Jennifer, Brandon, Liam, Audrey and their doggie Winston:
Thank you all for being a big part of our lives.  Jennifer,
 thank you for initiating dinner nights at Almost Home.
I made it a tradition.  We wish you all the best in Florida.

Robert:  our biker dude at Almost Home, and self proclaimed
 private eye.  Thank you for always keeping an eye on
things on your side of the building.  Thank you for being the
 friend you are to Miss Burton.  I feel better knowing she has
you to count on.  Thank you Robert for everything.  You have
been kind and very generous to always offer us any help
or assistance we need.  Greatly appreciated.

Bonnie:  don’t know where to start.  She a Georgia
red headed peach.  Has a firecracker sense of humor, and like
me always has an answer for everything.  During the last
 year and a half I have found a good friend.  She loves music and she
 thinks Arvid is a “joy”. Arvid thinks you are a cool one and he
 also enjoys your sense of humor and again he says thank you
for the record.  You get him.  I liked you from day one.

Michael and Dee:  when they arrived all everyone said
 was “ the New Yorkers”.  That’s how they are known as
 today.  A very pleasant couple and always interesting to
talk to.  Dee. You need to eat and gain some weight :)

Della and Robert:  one of the most hard working couples
 at Almost Home.  Never one to be idle.  One thing for sure Della
looks tiny and petite, but don’t mess with her she will knock
 you down if she had to.  Always good tenants and a
 wonderful couple.  I will miss you both very much.

Dave and Dianne:  they have set the record of people coming back.
 They have left 4 times and been back 4 times. Three of those
times was just a few days only.  Dave I will always remember
 you by theses words, “it don’t get any better”

Miss Brenda:  no longer at Almost Home, but
you and Doug know that of you ever wish to
 come back you have a place right here.

Craig:  I saw him every 3rd of the month when he came
to pay.  Kept to himself, but opened up to me every 3rd of
 the month.  We had long conversations and I learnt that
 he left his Hollywood lifestyle to come to Branson.
  He still has his Hollywood contacts on speed dial.

Tiffany and Mike:  Tiffany said to me, "I miss your smile."
  She's is one very hard working young woman.  Together
 with Mike they have never given us problems.  Even
through difficult times they have come through.

Nancy:  Hardworking as they come.  Always pays on time.
 Please put your health and yourself before others for a change.

Warren:  Never says much.  Comes in once a month to
 pay and get his mail.  Rides his bicycle to the store
 and keeps to himself.  Warren is a cool dude.

Slowly but surely Warren opened up and we have joked a
 lot since then.  Both Arvid and I like him very much.

Janice Miller:  A "new" comer to Almost Home,
but it was the perfect fit for her and us.

Audrey:  One of our youngest tenants.  After a few
talks she did straighten up.  I like her a lot.

Miss Ada:  Special.  What I remember best is the time she
told me, "honey did you know someone siphoned out gas from
 my car?"  The day after a friend of hers told me, "Miss Ada
always forgets to put gas in her car."  Gotta love her.

Pam and Bozo:  No longer at Almost Home, but Bozo was
 "THE" cat at AH.  He roamed freely all over the place.

John:  Maybe soon to be published and the one
who is in the best shape at AH.  John works
out almost everyday and you can see it.

Jeff:  The first time he came to AH we were full.
He then lived at our other hotel.  Took him several months to
 make it to AH.  He loves it there and we love him.

Melody, Bubba and Buddy:  Melody is kindhearted and will do
 anything to help you.  When she left us I missed seeing her
kitties Buddy and Bubba looking out the window.

Debbie:  For the longest time we hardly spoke.  She
came paid and left.  Then suddenly we became friends.
  She's special.  To the point.  Good luck Debbie.

Chris Leclaire:  Chris is not an AH tenant.  he lived in our
other hotel Arvid ran, but Chris is like a kid.  Chris and Tiffany
say he's Arvid's nephew.  Chris called me almost everyday
 at AH.  More than once.  He has the innocence of a child.

No matter where we go Chris always calls me and updates me
 on what is happening in Branson.  He is very special and one
thing for sure, Chris loves Arvid.  Looks up to him like a father.
  Not many have been able to put up with Chris, Arvid did.

One thing I am sure of, no matter where we go, Chris will always
 be a part of our lives.  He will text me, call me or facetime me.
Chris, Arvid and I very much hope you make it to Wisconsin.

My first year at Almost Home would not have been possible
 without the help of Tony Henderson.  Tony, I want you to know that
 I am forever grateful to you and Khristine for everything.
Without your  guidance I would have sunk.

Benny:  you know I love you.  The only “kid”at the time
at Almost home.  You were everyone’s sweetheart.
Especially the older ladies.  Stay cool.

As we close this chapter of our lives, I want to again say
Thank You! Thank You! to each and everyone of you for making
these last 18 months one of the most unforgettable times of my life.

Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to be grateful.

I am looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past.
I am thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn't have 
stumbled across my strength.  What are you grateful for today?...