At a time when most senior citizens are thinking about selling their houses, downsizing to a townhome or heading to assisted living, 64-year-old Linda Goynes just bought her first house in December on Newton Avenue in North Minneapolis.
“I looked at three other houses,” she said, “but when I came to the one on Newton Avenue, I dropped to my knees. I did. I said, ‘Thank God. This is the house.’ For one reason or another, it just felt like home.”
The one-story house was built in 1918 and features two bedrooms, a dining room, living room, kitchen and bathroom. Goynes admitted the real selling point was the sun porch. She’s also got a washer, dryer, snow blower and room for a small garden.
Being a happy homeowner wasn’t in the cards for Goynes 25 years ago. She’d been divorced, battled a cocaine addiction and lapsed into a coma, following a heart attack. Doctors told her she’d die if she continued to use the drug. So she made a bargain with God, promising she’d change her ways if she recovered.
And she did.
Challenges along the way
The road to a complete recovery included a few more twists and turns for Goynes, however.
In 1996, Goynes met her second husband. They moved into a house next door to the Sisters of the Visitation on Girard Avenue North. Goynes stayed clean, but her husband was using drugs and, occasionally, selling them, too.
“I never knew what was going to happen. One day I’d be on the ground in handcuffs after a police raid,” she said. “And another we’d be robbed by somebody looking for a drug stash or the money. But I always had the Sisters to talk to, and I never felt alone.”
With help from the Visitation Sisters, Goynes ended up moving out of their rented house into an apartment in 2008; her husband died in 2015.
He also loved the Sisters; he shoveled their walk, attended some of their neighborhood meetings and even put up their Christmas tree every year.
But he couldn’t stay away from heroin.
“Linda is one of the most courageous women I know,” said Sister Katherine Mullin. “She knew she had to leave him after all those years of his addiction. She made her decision, found an apartment and kept it together.”
Working and saving
Now Goynes has found not only a home, but also peace of mind.
“After my struggles and trials, I’m grateful to have a house at this time in my life,” she said. “I was at rock bottom at one time, and here I am with a place to call my own.”
Goynes had been saving for her own place for several years. She joined Ascension Catholic Church in 2010, has been working there as a pastor outreach assistant — organizing luncheons, setting up for funerals, arranging the food shelf, changing the candles and opening the church.
In her spare time, she also helps the Visitation Sisters in their monastery/home a few blocks away from the church.
“If ever we needed help with some event, celebration or some project, Linda has been there,” said Sister Mullin.
I’ve had the opportunity to see Goynes at work, for the sisters and the church. What I’ve noticed is her steady demeanor.
She’s helpful, hopeful, purposeful, soulful and joyful. For almost 20 years, I’ve asked her how she is. Her answer is always the same. “I’m blessed,” she says.
She’s caused me to change my reply when someone asks me how I am. My standard answer was one I took from my father: “Always room for improvement,” he’d say. For the past couple of years, when someone asks the question, I now reply, “It’s a good day.”
It’s an even better day when I get to see Linda Goynes.
Dave Nimmer has had a long career as a reporter, editor and professor. Now retired, he has no business card, but plenty to do. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.