We’re Moving to Montauk

Written By: Margaret  Cossentino

“We’re moving to Montauk.”

Those were the words I used to wake the children early that September morning in 1982. My plan was to pack a minimal amount of clothing and some basic food items. Then it was into our station wagon and off we went!

I stopped at the local Hewitt school to get transcripts to bring to the Montauk school. It was two and a half hours from our home in Rockville Centre to get to Montauk. The children were elated. They loved Montauk–the freedom, the adventure, the beach, the wind. (I wonder who inspired those likes?)

We still had 7 of our 9 children at home so the Montauk school system saw an increase in matriculated students overnight! The home we were going to was right on Long Island Sound, a small three bedroom house with two and a half baths. There was one bedroom for the boys and one for the girls. Not much floor space, just wall to wall beds!

As I got into bed that night, I wondered “Am I crazy…what have I done?” My husband was a general surgeon. He had been in practice in Rockville Centre since 1964 in the same office. I called to tell him I had take the children and moved out to our retirement house. There was silence on the phone—then he said: “Well what about my work, what am I supposed to do?” I flippantly answered: “Oh! Check out South Hampton Hospital. Maybe they need a surgeon!”

At the core of me, I believed I had done what I needed to do. I was 42 years old, going through what I now know to be a mid-life crisis. I was restless, sad, trapped, and fed up with my life as it was then. I longed for a new start of something! Montauk seemed to awaken my zest for life, my passion, my enthusiasm, my joy. As our new house was being built, the time I spent there me feel alive again. I did not look at consequences of moving there. I only saw the delights. No more structure and limits, just freedom. No more judgements of neighbors (did we have the right clothes, cars, furniture, grass?) Our grass was now sand! I felt relieved and jubilant.

We met the owner of Pizza Village the first night we arrived. I found out he was also the Vice Principal of the Montauk grade school. He met the children the very next morning as they started school. What a welcome! My eyes filled with tears. I felt HOME, a sense of belonging I had never felt in Rockville Centre. The persistent wind and sound of waves reassured that the move was RIGHT!

Back in Rockville Centre my husband contacted South Hampton Hospital. They needed a surgeon at the Hampton Med Center. He came out for an interview and he was hired. Then we attended to the sale of our home in Rockville Centre. It was bought quickly by a family who our daughter babysat for. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

I met the parents of my children’s schoolmates. Thirty years later, we are still close friends. I believe we were destined to be there for one another through many wonderful and difficult times. We sort of “grew up” together, despite being 40 years old at the time of our meeting.

A few months after living in Montauk, I felt a need to use my nursing skills again. I saw an ad in the newspaper for a spa nurse at Gurney’s Inn. I was hired on the spot. Often I wonder…was I the only applicant? I never really found out. Working there part time opened up a whole new world of alternative healing to me. I loved the mystery of energy work healing. So I began exploring how I could incorporate this into my work and life. With much time and effort, I became certified as a Holistic Nurse.

We lived in Montauk for three years. My husband had to stay at South Hampton hospital when he was on call, almost like a resident again. He told me we needed to move to South Hampton for his work. My heart was torn. I loved being in Montauk, it felt like my HEART, but in September 1985 we bought a home in South Hampton. We hoped to keep the Montauk house for our retirement as we had originally planned.

The move affected me more than I imagined it would. I became depressed and longed to go back to Montauk. With the help of prayer and friends, I gradually adapted to South Hampton. I took a part time job at the hospital in the maternity unit. I met wonderful women there, and again felt alive and fulfilled. I became a Lactation Consultant, which prompted me to return to school for my masters/ Nurse Practitioner degree. I enjoyed working and helping others to work through their life issues. I held a few positions with the Family Service League of East Hampton.

When my husband retired in 2001, my dream of returning to Montauk came to pass. We had to to sell our house there to finance our children’s education, but we were able to purchase a condo at Rough Riders. Again it was pure gift to me. I felt HOME.

In 2005, several medical issues necessitated a move to a warmer climate. We moved to Fort Myers, Florida. Fortunately, five of our children remained living on the East End, and one of our sons is a 5th grade teacher in Montauk. We are able to visit often. We are also blessed to have 13 grandchildren.

Just recently, in July, I turned 75. I had still been working in Florida until March part time. My amazing family held a birthday luncheon at Gurney’s for me. It was delightful to celebrate my life there, in a place so dear to my heart.

Montauk is truly a town of magic.