Long time, no blog! From April till way into Autumn, my heart is outdoors. But that has never kept me from writing before. This summer has been different—perhaps one of the loveliest summers ever. With the exception of an occasional entry on my art blog, journaling, letter writing, and jotting Bible study notes, I decided to take a vacation from writing.
Now our white hydrangeas/turning pink are at full tilt and awash with beautiful bees. So much to love about summer! Six years ago to this very day (Saturday August 29th, 2009) our son Eric and grandsons Joshua, Adam, Jason, and Jeff (grandson-in-law, but a true grandson indeed!) loaded a large U-Haul, our family business truck, and a some vans with our belongings. We were moving from our up-north “permanent” home of eight years to Southeastern Wisconsin where we’d originally lived for decades and where much of our family has lived and still does.
The banter between our family moving helpers was hilarious. They did a perfect job with no damage to our furniture or the walls of the home we were leaving—and most importantly, with no damage to my precious piano. The day was pleasant and memorable. But please forgive me for using a cliché: My heart was in my throat. We were abandoning the place we’d thought we’d live “forever”.
Two months earlier Joe had suffered serious health complications which immediately mandated the change of locale in order to be close to family and easily-accessed excellent medical care. In late June we’d walked into our present condo home for the first time. We placed a down payment on the condo after twenty minutes of inspection. So July and August of 2009 were filled with packing. Anyone who knows our lifestyle understands that the packing was a piece of work!
Over those weeks I consistently walked Dylan (corgi) on a leash so that he’d make the transition from running freely around fourteen plus acres to being a proper condo dog who wouldn’t be a nuisance to neighbors. As I walked our wild woodsy trails, I wondered: How will I be able to get along without all this?
Yes, we’d be surrounded by beloved family. I had missed the family between visits. Down in Southeastern Wisconsin the great-grandchildren were coming pop/pop/pop like popcorn. Joe and I love and enjoy the little people. I certainly understood that children are more special than bears and wolves. But . . . . ?
Nonetheless—after two months of packing, walking, and wondering—that moment of departure six years ago was amazingly pain-free. Weary as Joe and I were from the process of moving on short notice, we experienced a mutual, growing sense of excitement; it occurred to both of us that we were coming home!
And we came home to boundless blessings. Family! Long time friends! A carefree four room, ground floor condo—just right for our time of life. Several gardens to tend and love—ours and those of neighbors who don’t want to bother with gardening. And trains frequently roaring back and forth on the busiest track in the area—from Milwaukee west to the Rockies and north to Canada. My passion for the sight and sound of trains is no secret to anyone who knows us.
What have I learned in the last six years? More than I can squeeze into a blog. But for starters:
- People in their “mature” years, do not need a large home. Compact and cozy are delightful adjectives. I enjoy cramming lots of stuff into small spaces, and I love the task of efficient organizing.
- It is very nice to have garbage collection at our garage door. Up north we took our garbage to the dump—a fun experience but not when it was twenty below zero!
- It is wonderful to have snow removal. Joe did that himself up north, with a snow blower. It took two hours or more, to clear the driveways at the two houses there—the one we lived in and the guest house we had built up the hill. Now on a blizzardy winter morning we awaken and savor our coffee to the scrape/scrape of plows on our lane and shovels on the walkways.
- Here is a vital lesson: One does not need to own land, to enjoy it. We have a lovely community park over the berm outside our courtyard, and a woods and prairie preserve with foot trails beyond the park. These fulfill my hunger for natural beauty.
- In the last six years, health challenges have become the norm for Joe and me. These challenges are Holy Ground. Always, I experience God’s “peace that passes understanding” . With the Lord Jesus in my heart and life, every day is Holy Ground. But health issues—Joe’s emergencies and my chronic concerns—are a showcase of God’s Grace. Some friends understand this, but others simply do not. The “others” are those who say things like “Oh you poor thing!” When I hear that I want to scream, but I try to stay calm. My answer is, “In Christ we are never a ‘poor thing’. We are “more than conquerors.” Holy Ground!
- No home on earth is “forever”. Although I love where we are, and I am totally contented and grateful, I anticipate with profound excitement that final “move”—right into the presence of my Lord Jesus!*
Six years in retrospect. Understandably, I sometimes think of “up north”—especially when strolling outdoors after dark. Here, twenty-five miles west of Milwaukee, we have a moon and sometimes part of the Big Dipper in the night sky, and rarely much more than that. I recall many evenings of sitting on our lake-facing porch up north, enthralled by millions of stars: so many that there was more starlight than black space between. The stars reflected on the lake so that the entire expanse—Heaven and the water below—was one huge lit-up sky.
But happily now, six years later, we sit in the front row at church, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They are my stars! :)
Margaret L. Been—August 29, 2015
*Nearly every day I reflect on a family story I first heard when I was a very little girl. My great-grandfather had been bed-ridden and unresponsive for days—surrounded by family members during his slow process of dying. Then suddenly one day he sat bolt upright in bed. His face was glowing as he loudly exclaimed, “Oh Glory, Glory!”
Immediately after that, Great-Grandfather Longenecker moved to his final, glorious HOME!