The Statue and a Pop Tart

He was a knucklehead. He didn’t take school all that seriously and was continuously getting himself into trouble. His prior teachers told me ALL about it. I loved him. This was the kind of kid they always seemed to give me. I guess it takes one to know one.

You should know this about me before I go any further. My wife’s first teaching job was in the exact same elementary school I attended in Louisa County. Quite a few of my old teachers were still there and BOY did they have some stories for her. You know…..I was a knucklehead, too.

This particular version of knuckle-headness was in my fourth grade class. One month into the year we were sitting together at lunch and after taking a bite out of his Pop Tart he said, “Man I sure do love a good pop tart!!!” Now you have to know that getting a nickname from me was known as a badge of honor. There was more than one parent who told me that they also now called their kid the nickname I had bestowed on them. So, of course, the Knucklehead became “Pop Tart.” I NOW PROCLAIM TO ALL WITHIN THE SOUND MY OF VOICE THAT FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, YOU SHALL BE KNOWN AS “POP TART,” I said in a very loud voice. He smiled so wide the top of his head almost fell off.

A few weeks later we were at Virginia Historical Society.

The statue of tennis legend and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe will not be moved off Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va.

Pop Tart and I were touring together, just the two us. Mostly because I liked being around him because he made me smile. We were looking at the model for the Arthur Ashe statue that now stands on Monument Avenue. It’s a beautiful statue. He’s looking at the model and he says, “What are the books?” I asked him what he meant he said, “The books have no title on them. What are they about?” I said, “Let’s go read the information plaque and see if it says anything about the books.” It didn’t. I told him, “That’s a mighty fine question, Pop. Tell you what. When we get back to the class, I’ll see if there’s some way we can contact the sculptor.” He walked with a little swagger the rest of the day.

I did indeed email the sculptor, Paul DiPasquale, when I got back the classroom. I told Pop to not hold out a lot of hope, because I’m sure Mr. D. was a busy man.

The NEXT day we got a response. Mr. D. said some nice things and then specifically remarked about what a neat kid Pop must be (I didn’t give out his name). He went on to say that NO ONE had ever asked that question and that it was an awesome question. He told us that the books weren’t meant to be any special books at all, but rather they represented Mr. Ashe’s love of reading and his quest to make reading a priority for the children of Virginia.

I couldn’t wait for Pop to come in that morning. I called him over right away and let him sit in my chair and read the email. The look on his face as he read thru the response is one I’ll never forget. It started with an anxious expectation, turned into small smile that got increasingly bigger as he read all the nice things that Mr. D. said about him. I looked at him and yelled, “Look at you, Pop. I’m so proud of you” and we high-fived. Along with the smile on his face, I saw a couple tears form out the corners of his eyes. It was less a teachable moment and more a sacred moment. Two knuckleheads together; separated by decades but still one.

The rest of the year, he tried harder to be a better student and in less trouble. He wasn’t perfect but what fourth grader or 50 something year old man is. He became beloved by his classmates. I would sure like to know where he is now. I bet he still loves a good Pop Tart.

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Enduring and Thriving

People are something . – Billy Bagby

My Dad used to say that all the time when he was puzzled by someone’s behavior. He would just shake his head and sigh out the phrase in a sort of muted exasperation. Then he would just giggle to himself. He knew something and I didn’t.

So here I sit on a rainy, cool almost summer day. The world is crazy, so I guess the weather has to be, too. There is social unrest, pandemics, violence and it’s all a lot for one to absorb. You would be the exception rather than the rule if you weren’t depressed and sad during this time. In fact, you might need to check yourself if you weren’t.

I got to thinking about what the world holistically is going thru. If you have a “normal” life issue like sickness, death, loss of income; it must be doubly hard for you now. It might seem like more than you can handle. You’re right it is. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to keep in touch with friends and family. Let them know what you’re experiencing. It’s not just for you by the way. Chances are really high they are also having some tough times.

I have a couple of friends I talk with regularly. One in particular, Steven, and I get together for coffee every two weeks more or less. There’s no agenda. The stream of consciousness dictates what we discuss. It’s the best therapy. I don’t know about Steven, but I always feel so much lighter and refreshed after our coffee. Kind of a power washing of the soul.

My dad had to endure the Great Depression and World War II. Yet he was the happiest person I have ever known. I never realized it growing up, but he had a certain lightheartedness and joy about him. It was like “Yeah, I beat The Great Depression and got thru World War II, so everything I experience now is a bonus; the good and the bad.”

Beyond all the labels (rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, Democrat, Republican) lies the essence of who we are. The “who” that transcends labels. It is who we are and how were are connected. It is also this essence that will win out in the end and help us overcome our current travails. Kindness knows no corporeal boundaries.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. – George Washington Carver

My father taught how me to treat others. His gentle smile and twinkling blue eyes portrayed a soul that saw the best of who we are and he would only accept that. Yet behind those blue eyes were foxholes, death, malaria and starvation. Perhaps living thru the worst gave him the ability to live and see the best. My hope is we’ll come thru this time in the same manner.

I was vacuuming the master bedroom the other day and I saw two pie-plate shaped divots in the carpet next the side of the bed. I vacuumed the shapes out, but my guess is they’ll be reappearing for days to come.

Take it easy on yourself and be kind to each other.

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This IS Gonna Cost Me Some Friends

Opinions are like assholes; everybody has at least one – Billy Bagby

They say that we share 96% of our of DNA with chimpanzees.  That’s a scientific fact.  So it stands the reason that my brother and I share a percentage or two points more.  Yet when it comes to some very specific areas of politics and religion, we’re about as far apart as two humans can be.  I guess that’s where the other 4% or less kicks in (with my brother, not the chimps.)

We love each other, our families, try to live an honest and clean life.  We both work hard and are empathetic to a fault.  We’re both in long term marriages and adore our children.  We both also have lives based on faith.  So when it comes to politics and religion, we just don’t talk.  The 96 plus percent gives us more than enough to talk about. If it was just 3% we would still love each other by the way.

It’s for this reason, I never discuss politics or religion with friends or publicly.  I love my friends and want to keep them as such.  I keep it zipped.  I’ll make corny jokes and write about how I feel about life and how I grew up.  Many people have said some pretty generous things about what I have written over the years, but the truth is I’m just telling stories.

Fighting an enemy I don't know'; Italian nurse's viral photo ...

So here’s the part where some of you will hate me.  I saw someone in my life get in their car and pronounce that they were not wearing a face mask to protect them from the covid 19, because….and get this….they didn’t want “anyone telling them what to do.” Never mind the fact that wearing a face mask is really to protect others from you; that line of reasoning did not come into their equation.  I thought this was weird and unique, so I just let it lay and didn’t say anything.  You know….96%? However, as I was watching the news of people demonstrating across America, I saw many people there without masks declaring the same line of reasoning. 

I don’t want to wear a face mask. It’s itchy and my glasses fog up. People can’t see me smile, so when they see me, they think this big, hulking dude is going to kill them. There are probably a good six or seven more reasons I can give you for not wanting to wear a mask….but I wear one.

I also stop at stoplights. I pay my taxes. I don’t litter. I do a lot of things that I’m “told” to do and in no way…NO WAY WHATSOEVER…do I feel my constitutional are rights are being impinged upon.

The other day, I was picking Lynn up from a doctor’s appointment and a nurse was wheeling her out to the car in a wheelchair (she’s okay). I got out of the car to help her get in and saw the nurse was wearing a mask. I almost dove into the car to get my mask on before she got there. I dove into the car not because I as was afraid of the nurse. I dove into the car because I was afraid that I would harm the nurse. I think that’s what a good person would do. Not a superhero. Not a hero or a martyr, but a GOOD person. A good person in the sense that it’s the minimum I should do.

I don’t stop at a stoplight because the “man” tells me to stop. I stop because I don’t want to harm others. I don’t wear a mask because the “man” tells me to wear one. I wear a mask to protect others from the disease.

The workers, servers and essential people I cross in my daily life have family and friends that might possibly suffer if I don’t do my part. I don’t think political partisanship or my glasses fogging up should trump that possibility.

Now, if you feel the need to express your feelings on this, please do so. You can unfriend/unfollow me or even say angry things. I’ll still love you; but only about 96% of you or so.

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Slowing My Roll

7 Benefits of Taking Walks, According to Science — Exploring your mind

The first week, I was all eyes and ears.  I was into the statistics.  I was there for the daily press conferences from the White House.  I watched CNN more than I ever have.  We made sure we had what we needed to sanitize our daily life.  I was a  corona-virus groupie.

That was the first week.

This week I’ve slowed my roll.

Disclaimer – As of right now the whole quarantine thing has not really affected us all that much.  We cancelled our vacation plans.   We can’t go to the movies or out to eat.  Our trips across Virginia to state parks has ceased to only a 30 mile radius.  Morning coffees with friends have been put on hold. However, for the most part, it’s business as usual.  Except….

Except…I’ve literally slowed down everything.  I’ve always been the kind of guy that likes to get things down fast!  I got that from my dad.  I’ve actually timed the components of my morning routine to see how fast I can get them done.  I always give my self a preset time limit for chores: 5 minutes to empty and load the dishwasher, 10 minutes to do a cycle of laundry.  I know it’s crazy right?  I think some of it comes from my dad but some of it also comes from my days as  project estimator; where I had to put a time limit on the different operations it takes to get a part machined.

I’m mostly retired.  I work 20 hours a week ( 4 days x 5 hours- from HOME).  I almost, literally, have all the time in the world to do things.  What’s the big hurry?

This week I purposefully quit my unfettered consumption of covid-19 news.  I’ve started taking daily walks.  I take naps.  I’ve reached out to friends and family to see how they’re are doing.  I take my time getting ready in the morning (no more time limits on shaving, flossing etc.).  I linger over meals and take my time eating.  I go sit on the patio to read and soak up the fresh air and sunshine.  It’s been DELIGHTFUL !!

I feel more peaceful than I have been in years.  I know this virus is a really big deal.  I know that the suffering is real and that people don’t know where their lives are going to land.  I get that. I know it might take me.  No one is truly safe.  But if we can get anything positive out of it, it is the feeling of shared purpose and time to reflect.  Time to slow down.

Before, when I crossed paths with people, I might give them a nod or even keep my head down.  Now there’s more “How are you’s?” and “How are you doing?”  There’s more of a connection when I go for my walks and meet someone coming the other way. We do that weird six-foot-away dance while giggling about how stupid it feels.  When I do go to get something at the pharmacy or supermarket, the same thing happens; more meaningful interaction.

At night now, I do something I haven’t done since I was a small child.  I kneel down next to my bed in the dark and pray.  I ask God to forgive me for waiting so long to really talk to him.

.I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. – Anne Frank

I love that quote and have used it many times. However I can’t wait for the “cruelty” to end.   I’m embracing peace and tranquility now.   All I have and ever have had is now.

 

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Pandemic of Kindness

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

History will look back upon this time of coronavirus and judge us.  HOW it judges us depends on our response.  Surely the social media videos will somehow survive and show us fighting over toilet paper and protective face masks.  I’d like hope it would also show us at our best.

My dad used to say, “Son, they say what doesn’t kill you makes you better, but I don’t need to be any damn better.”  At that point is his life, he had been through the Depression and World War II, so I had to agree with him.  I’m not my dad, so I do need to be better.

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Son visits dad every day while assisted living home is under quarantine.

We’ve been flying through our lives with our play dates, shopping to our hearts content, going on vacations and eating out. Now, for the time being, that’s all gone.  Now all we have is each other; albeit at a distance.  Thank goodness for texting and social media.

I’ve been trying to compare this pandemic to my dad’s experiences with the Depression and WWII, but it’s not apples to apples. It’s totally a different experience and we’re making it up as we go along; just like they did.  I would like to think our response would be like our relatives during the Depression and WWII;  a response that showed us at our very best.  Feeding, caring for and helping each other.  Coming together as a nation, community and family.

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Italian’s sing and pay music with each other during the quarantine.

Maybe by being apart, we’ll actually become closer.  My two kids, Catherine and Jack, came over for dinner last night.  They were both anxious, as was to be expected, about the immediate future.  We talked and laughed and they both seem to relax and have a good time.  Virus’ will come and go, but if God is willing we will always be there for each other.

They should have Samuel L. Jackson at all those press conferences with the President, doctors and big wigs.  I would like him to be standing there and at the end he would lean over into the mike and say, “Now everybody….CALM THE F**K down.”  And then he would just walk off.

Now would be a good time to put that cell phone to good use.  Check on people in your life, even if it’s just to show that you care.  Read a book.  Take time to prepare a delicious meal. Organize your  space.  Listen to music.  Reconnect with your faith. Listen more than talk.  Binge watch a series. Take a long walk.

I’m gonna really like it when we come out the other side of this.  I miss the handshakes and hugs.  I miss the conversations around me while eating out.  I miss sitting in a movie theatre and eating popcorn. Heck, I’m even miss going to the gym.

I hope and believe that when this is over, we’ll be much kinder to each other.  More smiles between strangers and more patience with each should be our gift for surviving our generation’s big test.

 

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I Hate Baseball !!

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I hate baseball.  My favorite team is, and always has been, the Orioles, but I cannot tell you one player’s name on the roster.  I take that back….if you let me go back 50 years, I can almost name their starting line up – Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Mark Belanger, Paul Blair, Davey Johnson, Jim Palmer….

A gift from Andy – A cap signed by Boog Powell. The world needs more guys named – Boog

Baseball is a plodding sport with way more down time than ball-in-play time.  The time the ball is in motion in an average 3 1/2 hour major league ball game is between 15-17 minutes.  The rest of time is chocked full of exciting practice swings, conferences at the pitcher’s mound, running on the field and off the field and spitting.  Lots and Lots of spitting. There are 162 games in the season!!  162!!!  That’s grueling!!  The success rate in the sport is abysmal.  A good hitter might get a hit 3 out 10 times at bat and the division leading teams have just over a 55% winning percentage.

Maybe I don’t hate baseball, though.

My son, Andy, who is a Baltimore resident, took us to an Orioles game at Camden Yards a few years ago.  It was glorious!!  The smell of the hot dogs, the grass, popcorn and sunblock were intoxicating.  The crack of the bat, the play at the plate and the 7th inning stretch while singing Take Me Back to the Ball Game brought me back to a 10 years old version of myself,  who would sit within 3 feet of the old black and white tv and watch his heroes play.

So we sat there that day in Camden Yards sharing stories with each other and trying to make each other laugh and talking about our plans for the future.  Side note – If you can only go to one Major League Ball Park in your life; make it Camden Yards.  It reset the standard for parks across the nation and it is gorgeous!!

My favorite movies are baseball movies – Field of Dreams and The Natural.  I literally go into a trance-like state when I watch both of those movies.  I have to sneak watch them when they’re on for fear Lynn will give me the business for watching them for the 100th time.

Yesterday, Lynn and I took off for a noon game at The Diamond to watch the double AA team – The Flying Squirrels.  I sprung for the the good seats – second row, field level at the end of the Squirrels dugout.  For the past two weeks the heat and humidity have been oppressive, but the day before, a storm system blew thru the mid-Atlantic and scrubbed it clean.  Mid 80’s, almost no humidity and sunny.  It was Day Care day at The Diamond so there were thousands of kids there and dozens upon dozens of vans and buses (I’m not gonna lie.  The fact that there were thousands of kids there was one of the main reasons I bought the better seats.  We love kids, but time-served.)

The guy in front of us was what you might call a baseball aficionado.  He knew all about the players, stats and was fun to have around.  We talked about UVA basketball (he had a UVA cap), the old Parker Field and life in general.  I told Lynn some stories and we laughed and had a relaxing fun time.  So zen.  The Squirrel’s lost horribly.  They’d be pretty good if they could hit and field.  We didn’t care.  It was a sunny day and we were together.  So what’s to hate about baseball then?  A sunny day, the smells of the ballpark all experienced with your best gal. You know..I think I love baseball.

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Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots. – Forrest Gump

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Serendipity and Reflection

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The darkness in the pre-dawn hours along Coalfield Road is simultaneously comforting and foreboding.  The occasional car coming from the opposite direction is on its way to the Y across the street from my townhouse.  The Y must be giving away worms.

The 2 1/2 mile, out-and-back walk I take, 4-5 times a week, is lit by antique-looking street lamps along a generous sidewalk for most of the journey.  I wave at a sporadic runner or cyclist, but otherwise the sojourn is mine and mine alone.  Plenty of time for reflection or more importantly “no-thinking.”  The Buddhists call it “no-mind.”

The deeper I get along the route, the more my overweight body hurts.  The back stiffens and the ankles and knees ache.  I stop at the turnaround point  and re-tie my shoes.  When I bend over, I can hear my vertebrae snap back into alignment and I stand upright and feel better.  I walk because at this point in my life, I have to in order to get back on the bike and into life.

Friday morning, on my walk, my mind focused on planning for the weekend.  I realized that it was Father’s Day. If you are a teacher in Central Virginia, Father’s Day is almost a high, holy day.  Father’s Day means you made it through the school year and are finally on summer vacation.  Oh yeah, and it means Dads are awesome.

I thought about all those “holy days” and realized this Friday will be the five year anniversary of my retirement from teaching.  FIVE YEARS!!  Where has the time gone?!!

The realization that it had been five years made me immediately melancholy.  Partly because I missed teaching, but mostly because I felt like I had squandered most of those five years.  I more or less took a sabbatical from life.  I made attempts to come out of my hermitage and even wrote a blog along those lines but….

The bike accident I had 6 years ago, where I  broke ribs and suffered a head injury, greatly changed my outlook on life.  I taught one more year and retired.  I decided life was too short to feel guilty about what I was putting our children through and I was REALLY, REALLY tired of talking.  I know that sounds weird, but imagine a job where you are talking almost non-stop the whole time.

I fully realize the irony in that I quit teaching because I thought life was too short and now I sit here writing about throwing away five years of my life.

It was nice and cool this past Friday on my walk; so much so that I had to wear a hoodie.  I was deep in thought; thinking about the past five years and making plans to change it all.  I saw a car coming from the opposite direction and it started to veer in my direction on the sidewalk.  It was weird because the headlights seemed to be moving independent of each other.  It was then I realized it wasn’t car at all but my two friends and biking buddies Robert and Steven.  They were both excited to see me out and moving around.  They had both said how awesome it would be if I could start biking with them (I’m a few pounds away from feeling comfortable on a bike).  Steven (who taught with me for 9 years) was excited that it was the last day of school for him AND he would be moving to a different school next year.  We chatted a few minutes and slapped each other on the back and headed our separate ways.

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Serendipity is a fickle mistress.  I was in the midst of making a significant shift in my approach to life and God sent two “angels” to encourage me along the way.

On Thursday, Lynn and I bought some furniture and paintings and set up a writing nook in my study. The study is where I work and watch sports in the old recliner Lynn let me keep from our move a year ago.  I’m now committed writing and finishing the book I started.

I’m committed to walk until I can bike.  I’m committed to getting back in touch with friends and getting out more.  I’m committed to living once again.  No more lost years.  No more excuses.  It’s in writing.

 

 

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Giants

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It was their hands I always stared at with fascination.  They were huge, rough hands with large cracked fingers.  Fingers who had worked on so many cars, tractors and logging equipment that they were permanently webbed with the black lines left by their intended.

Those hands had worked the fields of Virginia and fought on the shores of lands far away.  Lands that were a universe from the rolling, green hills of the Virginia Piedmont and the warm embrace of their sweethearts.

Every Sunday morning, at Bethany Christian,  I would shake those grizzled paws that would envelope my soft unmarked hands.  I would watch as those rough hands tenderly leaf through the onion-skin pages of their well-worn King James Bibles.

They were honest as a game of checkers and loved their family, community and the Lord.  They even had honest straightforward names – Billy, Nathan, Warren, Joe and Leland.

These men worked hard, fought hard and worshiped God with a passion.  They were all elders and deacons on our church board.  They had earned that right and carried the responsibility on shoulders stooped by the life they had lived.

As a youngster, I would work in their hay fields and sawmills.  They seemed to respect me for my willingness to work hard and not complain.  They didn’t need to pull me aside, put their arms around my shoulder and give me advice.  They didn’t criticize me at the drop of a hat or yell at me if I did something wrong.  They would just look at me with their piercing eyes and smile.  The smile seemed to say “He gets it.  It won’t ever happen again.” It was those piercing eyes that had seen so much.  Death of fellow soldiers, sun-killed crops and illness.  Yet those eyes along with their ears always had the time to listen to an oafish, youngster who thought he knew it all.

They’re all gone now; gone to be with their beloved God.  When I go back to visit, I can still feel their presence.  As I drive by their farms, garages and church, I can see the influence their hands had on the community.

Their wives taught me how to love the Scripture and lean on the Lord.  They taught me how to be a man.

The impact they had on my on life (and so many others) cannot be overstated.  Any patience, kindness, listening and empathy I have were “given” to me by their example. When I lay down to sleep at night, I rewind the day’s events.   Their warm, loving faces appear and are used as the yardstick by which I measure my day’s successes and failures.

“We are standing on the shoulders of giants” is a phrase that has been often used but is no more apt than in this case.

 

 

 

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Sweet Sorrows

 

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I, Will, take you, Lynn, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.

The old joke goes….”What do you get when you play a country music song in reverse?  You get your hunting dog back, your find your favorite pocketknife, you don’t get  divorced and your truck doesn’t break down.”  2018 has been that kind of year for us.  While Lenny wasn’t exactly a “huntin” dog, he was loved and we lost him in February.  In July, after a protracted illness and 2 1/2 year decline, we lost Lynn’s dad, Jim.  In July we said goodbye to a home we lived in for 31 years.  Two weeks ago we lost Lynn’s mother, Theresa, who had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for  a while.  It’s been quite the year.

For the past 3 years Lynn was on-call to take care of her parents.  Her brothers and sisters were there as well and believe you me, it took all of them.  I could go on and on about the countless doctors appointments, hospital visits and late night calls that Lynn had to respond to at a minutes notice.  The road from our house to Morningside Assisted Living was well-worn.  I’m sure her brothers and sisters could say the same.

If I feel bad, I know Lynn feels double bad.  Lenny was her dog and it was her parents that passed.  Yet as I sit here tapping on the computer and listening to Christmas songs, she is 6 feet away from me preparing a delicious potato soup while dancing and singing along with music.  The resiliency of the human spirit personified,

After Lynn’s mom passed, we went to Morningside to clear out her room.  Nurses and LPN’s dropped by to express their condolences; but it was more than that.  You could see the respect and admiration they had for Lynn and her siblings.  It was as if they were paying homage to their dedication and love for their parents.

Leaving our house on Camrose Road actually took place just before her father passing.  It was not something we had planned on doing but the real estate “iron” was hot, so with the help of my friend, Dave, we did it.  As you most know it was a tough thing to leave that house and the history we had there.  It would have been a tough thing to do on normal terms , but to do it while Lynn’ parents were fading increased the degree of difficulty to a whole new level.

So here we sit with the passing of loved ones and moving in our rear view mirror.  Lynn’s now singing along with Alan Parson’s “Eye in the Sky” while tapping on her phone.

In our 2018 rear view mirror there is also a trip to Hawaii to see Andy and a new house. You see in between the sorrow there were moments of joy.

In a few weeks, on December 23rd, Lynn and I will celebrate forty one years of marriage. In the good times and the bad.  Yet even within the “bad,” I saw the best that humanity has to offer in my wife, Lynn.  The patience and dedication she had towards her parents was nothing short of remarkable.  I truly married up.

I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.  

 

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“Moving”

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The inside of the house on Camrose Road seems sterile and soul-less.  It smells of new carpet, silicone caulk and emptiness.  Most of the furniture is gone, the pictures taken down and all signs of occupation have been diminished. We’ve scrubbed and sanitized our life out of its essence.

We have lived on Camrose for 31 years.  That’s 31 years of memories, most of which have been bubble wrapped and stored in a locker for the past month. We decided to downsize and move into a town home about ten weeks ago. I didn’t think it would be this emotional.  Tomorrow ( if the lawyers dot the i’s and cross the t’s), I will lock the door, jump into the moving van and drive away for the last time.

Lynn and I had been thinking about moving a year from now. We knew we had to fix some things to make it look more appealing, but didn’t know where to draw the line in terms of whether we would get that money back.  I contacted a biking buddy, Dave, who is a realtor and asked if he could come over and offer us some advice.

We asked him about replacing the windows, replacing the ceiling in the den, and all the flooring.  He agreed that all of it should be done and said it would definitely make the house more appealing.  He then suggested we sell as quick as we can.  The market was hot and there was a shortage of affordable houses that have that number of beds/bathrooms in this part of town.  We did the research and called Dave. That was 10 weeks ago.

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Since that decision, we have had the flooring and windows replaced, had the den ceiling re-sheet rocked and had some electrical work done.  We’ve painted, fixed, mulched, caulked and cleaned, as well as rented a locker to store most of our stuff.  In the middle of it all we even went on an 8 day trip to Hawaii to see my son !!!  We’ve been to the dump six times and had a yard sale. We’ve donated and sold stuff non-stop.  All within the last 10 weeks.  We’re exhausted!!

The house is a far cry from the house we bought in 1986.  It’s seen upgrades, renovations and two new roofs.  It’s been painted inside and out multiple times, so much so that we look back at some of our choices and cringe.

The house on Camrose Road is steeped with the souls of its five occupants and their friends.  It was here we raised three beautiful, smart, kind kids. It was on Camrose we endured cancer and the aftermath of an accident.  Camrose has seen poker games, cookouts, birthdays, hurricanes, sleepovers, derechos and vegetable gardens. We’ve loved, cried, laughed and grown old on Camrose Road.

When you look back through our photos, you’ll see the little, white house bearing witness to our lives; first days of school (parents and kids), a new dog, anniversaries, snowfalls, prom dates, graduations, and Christmas’.

Most of all, Camrose has seen love.  Lots and lots of love along with a dusting of life’s allotted sorrows.

How many times have I cut the grass, laid my head down to sleep, eaten dinner or kissed my wife in that house?  How many times have I backed out that concrete driveway to go to work at my job as a machinist, millwright, estimator and finally teacher. It seems that the total of the stars would not equal it.

I don’t know the young feller that bought our house.  I hope he experiences all the joy AND sorrow that life provides; both have made us better people and grateful humans.  The house on Camrose Road can attest to it.   There are some things scrubbing and painting cannot erase.

 

 

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