When her son-in-law told her what he and his partner were planning, Juanita "Everybody calls me Nita" Dobbins was surprised, to say the least.
"I thought they were joking when they said they were seriously considering buying it," said Nita as we got comfortable for our visit in her Carson City home. "Then they did it."
What Al Fiegehen, Nita's son-in-law, and his partner Don Lehr bought was the Ormsby House. We'll talk with Nita a little about that after we visit for awhile.
Nita is 75 years young. She was born in Tacoma, Wash. She and Paul were married 42 years.
"It was the second marriage for both of us," said Nita. "We each had three children (two boys and a girl for each) when we married. We had one daughter together. Her name is Vicki and she's married to Steve. They have two girls and live here in Carson City."
Except for Vicki and daughter Kris - she's married to the above-mentioned Al - all the children live out of state.
"Kris and Al have one girl and two boys," continued Nita. "My son Harry lives with Suzie in Payson, Ariz. My son John lives in Dublin, Calif. He's married to Kathy and they have two children. So far, I have six great-grandchildren."
Sadly for Nita, Paul passed away last year from cancer.
"He died December 5th here at home," said Nita slowly. "We met in Indio, Calif. I had moved there from Tacoma a year earlier. My parents were already there and I was divorced when I made the move. Paul and I met at a dance, started dating and got married a year later in Las Vegas."
Paul worked as a construction supervisor for most of his life, and Nita was a bookkeeper when she worked.
"Paul retired in 1979 and we moved to Carson City in January of 1980," said Nita as she showed me a photo of the two of them. "We had visited here before. Al and Don had opened a business here called Industrial Micro Systems. Now it's called Cubix. They build computers, mostly industrial, and they have offices around the world."
Since we were visiting for this Mother's Day column, I asked Nita if perhaps her mom might still be alive.
"No, she passed away here in Carson City in 1990 at age 88," replied Nita. "Her name was Etta. Dad (Tom) was the chief building inspector for the city of Indio for 20 years. He was 74 when he died in 1976. I'm the second oldest of seven. Four brothers and two sisters. Only my sister Pat and my brothers Dick and Bud are still alive. My brothers live in California and Pat lives in Massachusetts."
Nita has lived in the same home for 17 years - "the longest I've ever lived in one place" - and while she is "petless" now, that could change in a hurry.
"I'm getting a 6-week old puppy from my son Harry for Mother's Day," said a happy Nita. "And before you ask, we have nothing special planned for Mother's Day."
Not even go to the Ormsby House for a Mother's Day dinner?
"Oh, we'll go there or to Glen Eagles for dinner," she answered with a smile. "I'll go with Kris and Al and Vicki and Steve, and if Harry gets here OK he and Suzie will join us."
I was curious if Nita ever ate any of those free senior meals they sometimes have at the Ormsby House and, if she wanted to, could she have a free suite there too?
"No to the senior meals, but I could eat free there if I wanted to," she laughed. "I did tell Al I wanted a suite of rooms - he said OK - when I sell this house, but I'm not selling it yet so I'll put that on hold."
We mentioned Glen Eagles earlier , Nita did note that Al and Kris own the place and have for three years.
"They've expanded Glen Eagles since they bought it," she said. "And they've got great plans for the Ormsby House too. They'll bring it back to what it once was, the pride of Carson City and a place people can go and have a great time .... I'm confident of that!"
YOU KNOW HER
Many of you know Nita from her years as a volunteer worker at the Carson-Tahoe Hospital gift shop.
"I managed the gift shop and worked there for 10 years before retiring in 1992," said Nita proudly. "I miss it .... I loved it very much and I really miss the people. It just got to be too much and Paul was pretty sick so I called it a day. Those were wonderful years for me."
Just this past Tuesday at the monthly Carson-Tahoe Hospital Auxiliary luncheon at the Carson Nugget, Nita was honored with a special "Thank You" by them for her 10 years of volunteer work.
"I got a nice plaque and a bouquet of flowers," said Nita cheerfully. "I was honored .... It was very, very nice and I appreciated it."
Nita did say she's enjoying her retirement and her life in Carson City and she wanted to wish all of you a "Happy Mother's Day" and so do I .... Happy Mother's day everyone.
NOT QUITE DONE
Didn't want this first Mother's Day of the new millennium to slip away without telling you a bit about my mom and my plans for today.
It was an ordinary school day in the mid-1950s and I was a teenage boy without a care in the world, other than getting my grades up a little. I was headed home for lunch, a daily thing back then, and when I got there an ambulance was in the driveway.
Long story short - Mom was dead! She went to bed the night before and never woke up. Later we learned she died from a stroke in her sleep .... She was 44 years old!
Needless to say, my father and my younger brother and my life changed forever that day. Mother's Day has never been the same for me, either.
But, even though she's been gone a long time now, I can still visit with mom. I still dream of her now and then and while she is not physically alive, she is alive in my head and I can close my eyes and see her anytime I wish. I can talk to her, know without hearing the words what she'd say and that will have to do.
So, On this Mother's Day in the year 2000, I will tell all of you who still have your mom how lucky you are. Only someone who has lost their mom, especially those who have lost a young mother before her time, will understand the pain and memories this day can bring.
Also know that you are not alone .... I, and many others, share the pain only those who have walked in these shoes can understand.
-As for me, I'll talk with my mom today. I've got some great stuff to share and I also want to tell mom about her grandkids - and now great-grandkids- so don't bother to call or come over today.
I'm spending the day with my mom .... Then on Monday I'll go back to the real world.
But today is for me and mom .... Happy Mother's Day mom.
I'm thinking of you ....
ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.