A special Thanksgiving story by Debe Maxwell, CRS...
Thanksgiving Gratitude - My Amazing Hubby
As many of you know, my secret to success started many moons ago...
In my former life, I proudly served as a Registered Nurse in the Trauma Operating Room at a top-tier, Level 1 trauma center here in Charlotte. During my downtime (when my trauma OR didn’t have a patient in it), I often helped out in the Recovery Room (PACU). It was there that I crossed paths with one of the hospital's Vice Presidents, leading to an exciting opportunity. I became one of the first six nurses chosen to establish a new home care facility. To my amazement & delight, this facility grew into one of the most prominent in the Southeast, employing a large team of nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and various medical professionals across multiple offices.
I never anticipated how this new home care facility would completely transform my life...
Every day, I journeyed extensively throughout the Charlotte area, caring for patients with a diverse range of illnesses. As one of only four chemo-certified nurses, I began managing a specific quadrant of the city during the weekdays. On weekends, we rotated on-call duties, which meant traveling across the entire region again! This role in the growing business was so exciting - I absolutely adored my job and my patients.
A good friend who coordinated our schedules handled the patient assignments for the nurses. During a casual conversation one day, she expressed frustration about not having a nurse to care for a patient who lived near me. She couldn't assign them to me because my patient load was already at its maximum. However, after a couple of persuasive phone calls, I managed to talk her into giving me the assignment. It was close to home and she needed the help; I was ready to handle any repercussions from the nursing director about my increased workload. After all, what was she going to do? Fire her hardest working nurse for taking on one more patient?!! 🤣
The patient in question was Ray Maxwell, a quadriplegic requiring a straightforward post-operative dressing change. His case didn't involve oncology or HIV, which were my areas of expertise at the time. For me, Ray was a comparatively easy patient to care for.
Our appointments were set daily at 2:00 PM for his dressing change. During these sessions, we'd engage in delightful conversations and quickly developed a strong friendship. I scheduled him as my last appointment each day, conveniently aligning with the location of the JCC, where my boys, then aged 3 and 4, were in 'pre-school' while I worked.
Since Ray was my last scheduled appointment of the day, we often spent extra time chatting until it was time for me to pick up my boys. Impressively, Ray worked full-time at Bank of America, drove an accessible vehicle and lived a fully independent life despite being a quadriplegic. I fondly referred to him as a 'super quad'!
He recovered swiftly from his surgery, and once I had 'discharged' him from my care, he wanted to express his gratitude by inviting me to dinner. Little did I know, that was the first day of the rest of my life, as they say!
When Ray entered my life, I was a single mom, perfectly happy raising my two toddlers on my own. Honestly, I had completely given up on men. My mind was set: no more dating and certainly no thoughts of remarriage. But Ray, with his charm and incredible wit, completely turned my world around. He's not just fun, but also kind, gentle, romantic – an all-around amazing man. He met my boys and it was mutual love at first sight between them too!
After dating for a bit, Ray and I tied the knot and we've been living our own version of happily ever after ever since! Ray is absolutely my hero and a huge influence behind my career shift. He grew concerned when I regularly gave out our home phone number to patients (this was in the days before cell phones), leading to calls at 3:00 a.m. and me dashing out to help, only to return just in time to send the boys to school and start my day anew. He lovingly urged me to stop working, so eventually, I 'retired' from nursing. But retirement didn't suit me for long, and that's when I embraced a career in real estate, a decision I've never regretted!
Ray is the epitome of selflessness and thoughtfulness, always putting others before himself. He's been an unwavering support for me and the boys. From never missing a soccer game, band concert for Matt, swim meet, to every basketball game (and Ryan had no shortage of those, playing year-round AAU), Ray's been our constant cheerleader. He even took over my cheering duties while I hustled through numerous real estate deals in gymnasiums across the state!
As time flew by, our boys grew up and left the nest, with the last one departing amidst a really tough real estate market. I kept my nursing license active for years, diligently completing my CE courses. I worked hard for that degree and wasn’t about to let it lapse, even though I had absolutely NO plans to return to nursing!
The coming years were crucial, not just for the survival of my real estate business, but more so for ensuring my boys could continue their college education. During this period, Ray began facing health challenges related to his paralysis, leading to an early retirement from BofA. With the luxury market plummeting, I found myself needing to rapidly adapt and revise my business strategy - almost daily.
Throughout his health struggles, Ray's support never wavered. He offered advice when I sought it, but more importantly, he remained a beacon of positivity, always cheering me on despite our shared apprehensions about the ongoing Great Recession. He had a way of easing my worries while quietly shouldering his own. Even when I closed a modest deal, I'd say, "It's not much, but it's something until the next one." Ray would always respond with enthusiastic encouragement, "Honey, this is exactly what we need – we're good!" His unwavering spirit of support truly made him my biggest cheerleader in life.
Admittedly, my past 'business habits' with regards to my corporation’s bookkeeping - well, I’ve always been hands-off with that! Ray's been our go-to guy for both our business and personal finances. Yep, I was that wife who blissfully sailed through life/marriage without a clue about our financial state, just getting the occasional verbal update from him. And honestly? I was completely cool with that arrangement. I think it was a stroke of genius (or maybe divine intervention) that Ray was at the financial helm. In retrospect, I'm actually relieved I wasn't in-the-know!
The beauty of "out of sight, out of mind" really shone during those tough market times. With Ray as my personal cheerleader, keeping any financial worries to himself, I could laser-focus on my business without distraction. I became a whiz at short sales, primarily thanks to ActiveRain and a handful of short sale experts who taught me the ropes.
I held 25-30 listings at all times and had many, many clients who were on the brink of bankruptcy. Some were quite close and in order to allow these clients to short sale their homes, in the end, I didn’t charge commission on some of them. I couldn’t bare to see them go into bankruptcy and not be able to purchase a home for 7-10 years.
During these times of me ‘donating’ my commissions, Ray knew all too well that if I'd been aware of our exact financial situation (not bankruptcy but not quite the comfort zone we were accustomed to either), it would've thrown me off my game. It was not until 2013, when the market shifted (for the exceptional), that Ray opened up about his concerns and the tight, carefully managed budget he had orchestrated for us.
In 2013, it dawned on us just how much my business had flourished, especially in contrast to others that had shut down. We attribute this significant growth largely to our commitment to giving back to those in need and steering clear of greed.
I also teamed up with a fantastic real estate coach, and guess what? They insisted I do a personal budget and a P&L EVERY SINGLE MONTH. Talk about a game changer! It pushed me to be in the loop about where our personal finances stood and to keep a finger on the pulse of my business's financial health. But let me tell you, during the recession, being in the dark was truly a blessing in disguise! On the flip side, it's pretty awesome to be in the know now. And the cherry on top? We managed to get both our boys through college! It's hard to believe how much things have changed for them since The Great Recession - now they're parents themselves! Time flies, right?
My hubby is still my number one fan! He’s not just a whiz with finances but, also a tech guru who expertly walks me through our website management and online marketing. He won't touch property descriptions, snapping those stunning photos, videotaping, social media magic and of course, my ActiveRain blogging adventures!! He is my eagle-eyed proofreader though, catching typos on my property descriptions and on my blog when and if he reads my posts.
He's the wizard behind managing both our business and household finances and I am HIS biggest cheerleader when it comes to that…and all things Ray, of course!
We hosted 3 local real estate teams in our home for "Winter Wine & Visions" - Ray is displaying our team's vision board.
Ray is my biggest cheerleader - he's the family's biggest cheerleader too!
I am so blessed to have someone so special in my life!
© Debe Maxwell | The Maxwell House Group | SavvyBroker@me.com | Thanksgiving Gratitude - My Amazing Hubby