There are many things that have kept me away from my keyboard lately. A plethora of tasks seemed much more pressing than creating words on the keyboard. Tasks which filled more hours than I had, tasks which stirred memories long ago forgotten, and tasks which led to more sore muscles than I ever imagined possible. Memories of days gone by have flooded those busy hours, but life allowed no time to record those memories.

But…today, I sit, compiling words on the screen! Beyond the screen, I watch birds flitting around outside my (new) office window enjoying the tasty morsels I’ve provided. I see neighbors enjoying a brisk morning jaunt with pets. Mothers accompanying little ones down the sidewalk – taking toddlers for an early morning walk. Reflecting, I wonder what lies ahead and I remember the chapter being left behind.

For over three decades my husband and I lived in the same country home several miles west of where we now live. We raised our family there and celebrated many birthdays there. We welcomed our grandkids there. We charted the growth of both generations on the back of the closet door – that growth chart is now here, on the back of another closet door where we’ll continue recording inches and comparing stats! We hosted family reunions, and welcomed family and friends for lunches, brunches, showers, and parties.

Hamsters and horses, as well as many other four-legged friends, were adopted and loved during our time there. We witnessed life at both ends from our country vantage point, and the unmarked graves of much-loved pets are nestled under the trees which protected our home from the brisk winter winds. Life certainly was good in the country. No doubt.

But times change! A new chapter is beginning after our thirty-three year stint in the country as we settle in small town USA. We’ll soon officially pass the baton to another family as they visualize the possibilities and anticipate the treasures of country living. As we get closer to that day, more memories flood my mind.

As in any family, not all memories are good ones but life is about choosing to remember the good and forgive (and forget) the not-so-good. Life happened in that home. Love resided there.

An oak tree and a maple tree now provide welcome summer shade as they tower over the one and a half story brick house we once called home. That front yard once was naked of grass at one time, thanks to several consecutive days of vigorous volleyball games by three or more generations of family members. The grass grew back, but memories of that family reunion remain, indelibly etched in our minds. Memories of counters laden with homemade noodles, drying. Jigsaw puzzle pieces on a card table, visited by everyone at one time or another. Aunts, uncles, and cousins from California to Florida, Washington to Texas, and all parts between. Extra beds squeezed into every nook and cranny of the house. Sheets hanging to divide space for some semblance of privacy. Tents lined the back yard, and a couple RVs were in the drive. We stood in line for the single bathroom, but oh the memories made!

Our horse shed is empty now, but was once inhabited – actually, with several different horses at different times during those years. My husband worked tirelessly digging the holes for pipe posts, leveling them, then tamping them in before welding the connecting rods. I watched, providing an extra hand when needed, as he built corrals which will no doubt outlive the entire homestead. A few great horses galloped in and out of our lives while there, and one special little filly took its first breath in that corral. Oh, the memories of new life.

Special gifts from a special grandpa, an extravagant playhouse and roundtop metal shed once provided hours of imaginary fun in that backyard. The days of childhood imagination are gone, and years of weather led to their demise. They now rest in the landfill along with a huge sandbox and an old swingset. One oversized dog house will be on our next trip to the landfill – its primary resident (“Rooster,” a chocolate lab) recently required a larger-than-normal grave under those trees. His furry neighbors, “Gus,” “Crip,” “Idgit,” “Missy,” and “Jake” (and others) rest nearby.

There were first steps, first words, first teeth, lost teeth, and visits from the tooth fairy in that home. Santa visited. The Easter bunny hid eggs. We experienced potty training, stubbed toes, sibling rivalry, stomach flu, homework horrors, 4-H projects, and other memorable moments. First loves and first breakups happened. Broken hearts were mended, often to be broken and mended again. Special times with family and friends happened within those walls. Life was good.

It was from that backyard that our youngest experienced low-flying military jets overhead which sent him running for his mom, then plastered face first in the grass trying to escape the overwhelming sound. The fear of those jets haunted him until – over and over – we would watch them from inside the front door when we heard them in the distance. The closer they’d get, the louder they’d get until they went overhead and the all-encompassing roar subsided once again. Familiarity breeds acceptance, but his first impression is a never-to-be-forgotten memory indelibly marked in my brain (and probably his!).

That same young man – now a pipeline welder like his dad – first held a rod and stinger, striking his first arc at our place in the country. A very young welder-in-the-making – like father, like son. He learned well!

Memories took place outside, but special memories also reside within the walls. It’s the home in which our daughter learned to cook, and crochet, and organize. It’s where she practiced playing her flute. It’s where she learned to love to read. Her books were often lined up by height in her bookcase. The next week, they might be lined up by author! Her clothes were often hung in color-coordinated order. A young perfectionist-in-the-making – like mother, like daughter? Perhaps? It’s where she found her passion for teaching. It’s where goals were set, and where goals were met.

Deep theological questions were raised, and pondered, and discussed within the comfort of those four walls. Those hard talks happened there. It’s where ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ happened! It’s where ‘now I lay me down to sleep’ happened. It’s where “Jesus loves me, this I know” happened. It’s where their faith began. It’s where their lives were molded, where they lived when they asked Jesus into their hearts! Life-changing faith began. Prayers were prayed. Tears were shed. Laughter was shared. Discipline was doled out. Arguments were had. Parenting happened. Wisdom was gained. Little ones grew up. Lives were changed. Growth occurred. Life happened. And love happened.

It’s where my grown children lived nearly ALL of their lives. That home became an empty nest, then an expanded nest as we welcome grandchildren. It was where Papa and Gramma lived – past tense! And, it’s where my husband and I lived over half of our lives.

And, today, I remember!

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