The five-year anniversaries of incidents from the summer of 2012 keep ticking by me. They’re not celebratory moments really, but there’s an almost inexplicable satisfying reflection they bring to mind.

Look how far we’ve come. Who would have predicted in those baffling “now what” knock-downs life was delivering with unpredictable regularity that summer, I’d be here (miles and years away from there), looking back and thinking… Well I can’t even describe what I’m thinking.

It seems so self-congratulatory to say, “We made it.”

But we are making it. Very well, by our standards, which – Lord knows – aren’t the same standards most have.

We’re happy. And we have good reasons to be happy.

Most importantly, I’m grateful. Grateful for every inconvenience I’m here to run interference for; grateful for every – I believe – God-provided provision that sees us through; and more grateful for each and every blessing we’ve found. Many are our reasons to get up in the morning and many more are our reasons to go to bed tired at night.

Five years ago I was living (alone) in Brownwood, and on June 28, 2012, a situation in my son and granddaughter’s life that had been spiraling out of control passed the point where the spiral hit a stopping point. I was here (Brownwood) and they were there (San Angelo). Sparing you the ugly details and only touching on the amazing coincidences and simple miracles that got me from here to there, I’ll just say I was able to get to where I needed to be.

Even on the most difficult days, I am thankful for the opportunities.

The summer of 2017 has, oddly enough, been a summer to connect with a couple of old Angelo State University friends, both of whom I hadn’t seen in 43 years and who – coincidentally – don’t know each other. Each friend made the observation San Angelo seemed to be a good place for me. It is, I declared, not just because I’m needed here by family, but because I have a history here, a place and the good peace and comfort of familiarity made possible by friends I made when, I’m glad to know now.

Home. Gosh I love the word, even though I can’t define it, except it has something to do with knowing who I am and where I belong. Five years ago this month, trying to help my son and granddaughter find a place to live, my friend Cheryl and I followed GPS directions to an apartment complex where applications were being taken for a new development being built in the school district where my granddaughter wanted to attend. The sign on the complex gate said these apartments were for residents 55 and older.

“I want to live here,” I told Cheryl.

Four months later, I was moving in.

Friday night, we drove back to Brownwood. We’re not a pair you’d ever call hell-bent, but we were determined to see the Lyric Performing Arts Company’s production of “Oliver.” To make it at all, the trip had to be fast and crazy, as in drive up and back in the same evening.

I always tell Cheryl start time is 30 minutes before it actually is. She does the same with me. This time it worked. We got there 30 minutes early – early enough to land a grand parking spot in front of the Lyric, but not nearly early enough time to visit with the good people and hug the fine folk there to see the play and/or perform on the wonderful stage. But we were so glad we came. We’ll come back again – and maybe stay longer – the next time we have the chance.

So many asked me if I was happy in San Angelo. I assured them I was. It is home, I suppose, whatever that word means. It is home, because that is what my situation dictates.

But Brownwood was my home for 10 great years. I loved it as best I could, and I felt like it loved me back. I shared with Cheryl on the ride home how lucky I was to have been where I was and be where I am. The simple discovery makes me think I must be truly rich. Having a home to go to and a wonderful place to visit where the welcome is genuine, the feeling is warm, the people are good is surely worth something. A very, very lot, actually.

We all need here’s and there’s and I wouldn’t trade mine.

Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.