By Kimon Brown:
Over the last several months, I have had the privilege to interview and feature many of my friends and neighbors here in this monthly column. This experience has been very rewarding and really has been a privilege. This month I would like to write about my hometown.
Most of those who know me know I am not from “round here”. I grew up in the southwest in Las Vegas, Nevada. When I was young Las Vegas was a sleepy little town. I remember signs in town detailing the population of Clark County, a very large geographic area, as 250,000. This was in the mid 60’s. Las Vegas now is a major metropolitan area with millions of residents.
10 years ago after my mother passed away my wife and I decided we didn’t want to live in a smaller version of Los Angeles and began the search for a new home. Barb, my wife searched online and found a lovely house at the end of a red clay dirt road here in Grand Bay. She was convinced that was our future home. I tried to tell here that we knew nothing about the area or the life we could have there and not to get her hopes up. Besides that, we had things to settle up in Las Vegas and a business as well as home to sell and close out.
The home at the end of the road waited for us and several months later we made the trip out and looked at about 14 homes in Mobile and Baldwin county. The home at the end of the dirt road was the one that kept drawing us back. During our visit, we found ourselves walking through what was an old pecan orchard and I looked across to Barb who was with a couple of our friends from Georgia and the realtor and the current owner. She looked beautiful in the sparkling Alabama sun. She was in tears. They were tears of joy. I knew this was our future home, but I was worried that it would be tough to make a deal if anyone saw how emotional she was about this property. Fortunately, we came to a deal and soon moved into our home.
We really for the first time in our lives felt at home. We had a lovely property and found exceptional friends and neighbors. The joy in our lives was amazing. We had a small homestead farm and raised dairy goats, grew a 1-acre garden and lived a great life for a few years.
Sadly after a short period of magical fairytale happily ever after, Barb became sick and was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer. At diagnoses, she was told this would kill her, not that day but it would eventually take her life. Fortunately for us we were in a position where I could care for her and we spent the next 3 years fighting this disease with everything we could. As horrific as the end result was we had each other and a long slow goodbye. Barb Passed away just over 6 years ago on October 30, 2009.
During the course of the hardest and darkest times of our lives, we had the wonderful experience of being surrounded by love and friendship. Neighbors found ways to show their love and support. Having the support of so many wonderful people in town was exceptional. Some as close as 600 yards across the road and some from all over South Mobile County. It didn’t matter if we were at my front gate, Mitchell Cancer Center, Greer’s Food Tiger or the St. Elmo feed store. Someone was there to wrap their arms around us and tell us they cared. We somehow fell in with so many lovely people. After Barb died they continued their love and kindness for me.
I tell people after my loss something inside was broken. The fine people in Grand Bay helped me repair that broken part of me. You can still see the cracks, but the repairs have made me much stronger for the wear. It is because of that when asked “Where are you from?” I can say, “I am from Grand Bay “now”.
We all are truly fortunate to be able to call this special place home and I will never be able to repay the kindness I have been shown here. What I can do is try and help the legacy of love and kindness continue. Ask me sometime about our community and I guarantee you will hear the love in my voice.