My name is Margaret Valentine and I was born February 6, 1948 in Huntington, Long Island, NY. I completed the normal 12 years of education in the Huntington School System.
In my last two years of high school, I enrolled in a new, innovative, on the job training project. I was already studying to become a nurse, which I decided was not for me, when the school approached me to become the first Operating Technician in their new program. Of course I jumped at the chance. I graduated in 1966, and for the next six years worked in the Operating Room of Huntington Hospital. By 1972 I was beginning to burn out in medicine. My younger sister Ginny had been diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when she was 9 years old. The years where beginning to take their toll on her system. Between nursing her at home and seeing sick folk everyday, I had my fill of medicine.
In 1972 my older sister Elizabeth asked me to join her in the cleaning business. She had two boys which she was raising on her own. Cleaning gave her a good income and the flexibility in her schedule to be there for them. Soon after joining her, the business began to take off. Eventually we had to bring in mom and more employees to keep up with business.
By 1975 we added Catering to our list of services. We started small by doing dinner parties and family events. As the years went by Catering business began to mushroom just as the cleaning had.
In 1978, tragedy struck our family. Ginny passed away after a long and grueling fight against her Diabetes. Our family was totally devastated. It had been a long battle for us also. We decided that what we needed was a fresh start. Huntington was fast becoming a Metropolis. The drugs and crime rate where escalating. Elizabeth was concerned about raising her boys. What we wanted as a family was peace and some sanity.
Dad had been a Currier in his younger days. One of the places he most liked to visit was Danbury, Ct. it was much like the small town we grew up in before all the city people started to discover The Island. In the fall of 1979 we packed up the kids, the dog, and the cats and headed for Connecticut. It has been the best decision that we have ever made.
For a year after the move, Elizabeth and I commuted to the Island until we had built up the business in Connecticut. The business grew from a modest start, as it had done in New York and eventually we where servicing about 50 customers a week. Gradually the Catering end began to take over.
By 1995 we began to step out into the food industry full time. A Jazz Club was our first venture, followed by a full line catering hall. As Elizabeth and I grew older we downsized our business into corporate cafeterias. This gave us the advantage of week-ends off and only one location. For the last 15 years of our business life, we have run two cafeterias for prominent business firms and yet we never forgot our cleaning customers. Whenever they needed us to downsize mother into Assisted Living or help father move to his daughter’s house, Elizabeth and I where there to help.
In September of 2009, Elizabeth and I retired from the food business. If we thought retirement was going to be quiet and boring, we where sadly mistaken. Years ago, Elizabeth had divorced her first husband, but she had kept her sister-in-law as a life long friend. Dot was getting on in years and when she asked Elizabeth to become the Administrator of her Living Trust, my sister readily agreed.
In November of 2009, Dot had a medical emergency that landed her in the hospital. The whole incident had been triggered by her Dementia. In her confusion, Dot had over-medicated herself, which had caused internal bleeding. The doctors would not allow her to live alone any longer. She could return home accompanied by a caregiver or her estranged daughter. Being the obstinate person that she was, Dot would have none of that. We brought her to Connecticut to live with us as we lined up an assisted living facility. At least she could retain some of her independence and still have supervision.
Elizabeth and I took on the task of cleaning out her house and getting it ready for sale. It took almost a year to complete the job. What we didn’t know when we committed to doing it was that over the last few years, Dot had become a hoarder. The Dementia had taken a totally organized person and turned her into a disorganized pack rat. After many week-end sleepovers it was finally done.
In January of 2015, things finally calmed down enough for me to dabble at something I always wanted to do. For a long time I had wanted to write, but never found the time. For my first book I decided to write about the Dot Project. The book took on a life of its own. Instead of just telling the reader about our experience, it became an interactive guide, complete with forms to keep them organized through the process. For anyone who has preformed this task for a loved one, it soon becomes a descent into stress and chaos. So much more is involved than you could ever have imagined.
I am proud of my newly published book, “Making the Move”. Years of experience has helped me to create a book that can be used by the reader to organize them through this emotional and stressful project. It is my fervent hope that this book will walk you through a difficult time in your life and lesson some of the stress you will go through.