COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Joyce Mayne just bought her first house as a birthday present to herself.
She is 75.
In this Aug. 2, 2018 photo, Joyce Mayne, 75, fulfilled a dream she shared with her late husband when she bought her first home this past week in the Linden neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. Mayne's house is one of 31 "lease-option" properties Homeport built in the neighborhood in the early 2000s. Her husband Larry passed away in Oct. of 2017 due to cancer. (Jonathan Quilter/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
"I wondered if I was crazy, 75 years old and buying my first house," Mayne said. "I thought, God brought me this far. He'll see me the rest of the way."
She and her husband, Larry Mayne, planned for years to buy the two-story, four-bedroom house they had occupied since 2009 on East 24th Avenue on the Northeast Side.
Larry, retired from AT&T, tended the rear vegetable garden and hosted barbecues while Joyce kept up the front flower bed and welcomed the family. They kept the dream alive even as Larry's health faded as he battled lung cancer.
"That's what we were working toward, trying to get enough to get a place, buy a home. In case anything happened to us, the family had a place to go to," said Joyce, a retired custodian from Columbus City Schools.
When cancer claimed Larry in October, the dream didn't change. Joyce spoke with Homeport, the Columbus housing nonprofit, about turning her rental into her own house.
Mayne's house is one of 31 "lease-option" properties Homeport built in the neighborhood in the early 2000s. Under the program, homes can be sold to qualified tenants after serving as rentals for 15 years.
Tenants must have a track record of paying their rent and keeping up the home. Mayne qualified on both counts.
Participants must take classes on homeownership and home maintenance. Mayne signed up.
And they must qualify for a loan. Because Mayne's mortgage — $550 a month — will actually be less than her rent — $600 — she was approved.
So at an age when many people are selling their last home, Joyce Mayne is buying her first.
"All the way home from the closing, she kept saying, 'I bought a house, I bought a house, I bought a house. For my birthday, I bought a house,'" said Brenda Moncrief, who manages the lease-option program for Homeport.
It hasn't been an easy life for Joyce Mayne, although it's hard to tell because of her no-nonsense, get-it-done spirit. She lost her husband two years after losing a son to sickle-cell anemia. She's proud of her three remaining children and is thrilled she can leave them something.
She's determined to pay off the 15-year mortgage early so her children can have a place after she's gone.
As she looks around and considers changes she wants to make to her house, her first thoughts turn to outdoor play areas for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"I've never been much of one to show it, but my whole body is bubbling over," Mayne said while relaxing on her front porch a few days ago. "I'll be sitting in my chair this week and just start to cry; I can't quite believe it, just me and my house."