Love, loss, simple pleasures, and Elizabeth Taylor

Gene Vashon sat down at his kitchen table just two days after his 85th birthday, the seventh he’s celebrated at Park Meadows, (the Volunteers of America Texas Senior Housing site in Fort Worth, TX), and reflected on his life thus far.

Born and raised in Waterville, ME, he built a family and supported them building homes all across the United States. Gene is a father of four, grandpa of seven and great-grandpa of 17. One of his sons worked with him.

His most memorable client was none other than Elizabeth Taylor. “We broke through a wall that was part of the attic on the third floor. I built a big table and elevation on the back side so they could put a big water take up there for fish.” For the record, he wouldn’t recommend a heavy fish tank on the third floor of any home. “I told my son, ‘if that thing breaks loose… pshhhh’ water would be everywhere.”

“I’ve had a good life” he added, not that he hasn’t been touched by tragedy. His first son passed away from Leukemia at only ten weeks old, and his second son passed away six years ago after slipping and falling at a grocery store.

His days are marked by comforting routine. “I get up every morning and fix my favorite dessert of ice cream milk and strawberries. Then I sit here and watch Let’s Make a Deal and The Price is Right.” He also enjoys an occasional beer and Lays Potato Chips. “I feel good, I eat good and nothing hurts.”

As for the COVID-19 pandemic, Gene is adamant. “It’s awful. It’s changed the whole world.” He misses enjoying meals at restaurants, getting haircuts, and attending Catholic mass at the church on the corner. “Now I watch it on TV at 11am on Sunday. I have COPD so I have to be careful.”

His move from Florida to Fort Worth was encouraged by his two daughters after the death of his second wife of 38 years, and he has no complaints. His neighbors at Park Meadow and the ladies in the office are nice, and as for his girls, “They wanted to keep me close.”

We can see why.