For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. -- II Corinthians 5:1 (NIV)
It was July 1, 2011. This day was three years in the making. Or was it 24 years in the making?
It was our final move day from 8123 Westview Lane. Donna and I had moved out slowly over the course of the last three years and that move had accelerated in the last three weeks. Now, the move was coming to an end.
My son Aaron, and his wife Kara, had traveled to Woodridge, Illinois with me to help load up the last bit of possessions that had not been picked up by the movers and to help me drive back to our new home in Searcy, Arkansas. 8123 Westview now was empty… and I couldn’t help but see my life from the last 24-years flash before me. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. If there has ever been a life lesson that I have had shoved down my throat, not always by a malicious somebody, but sometimes by circumstances, it was that, “the only constant in this world… is change.” Things change, and circumstances dictate that there comes a time in life… when it’s simply time to move on. On this date in time, I was at that point. In fact, I had personally been there for several years, but it’s hard to just get up and go somewhere else to start again. But, here I stood, hands on my hips, looking around an empty room, turning around slowly, as if it were in slow motion with thoughts of the last 24 years swirling in my head. In my mind’s eye I could see vividly the day we moved in to 8123 Westview Lane. It was a very cold last day of February in 1990. Now, I could feel the cold winds of a Chicago winter and the delightful laughter of my boys playing in their new bedrooms, or wanting to go out and play out in the snow. I could hear Donna assembling her new kitchen, her happy place! As I stood and reflected my life in this house, I could feel the sweat of the many hours of work-equity we put in for investment purposes, and maintenance of our property. I looked at the walls that had been painted, the carpet that had been installed, the new stair railings, and the myriad of other improvements we had worked on so that we could live more comfortably over the last 24 years. And now… it was empty… and it was my last moment to make sure we had everything packed and loaded.
Previous to 8123 Westview Lane we were living in a temporary, much smaller, two-bedroom townhouse apartment, while we waited for the sale of our house in Clarksville, Arkansas from whence we moved in 1987. We were not able to sell our home before we left so we rented it out so as to have the funds to cover the house payments. It was getting excruciatingly difficult to manage the rent house 600 miles away, start a new job, and live in a two-bedroom townhouse apartment, and the many other changes that occur when you up and move to another state.
Finally, in November, 1989, I received a phone call that I had been anxiously waiting for. That call was from my realtor in Clarksville, telling us that our house had indeed had an offer that he thought we should accept. We readily agreed! Now, we could finally start looking for a more permanent housing situation. We had enrolled the boys in the local school district that we liked very much. I was not wanting Matthew to change schools again. It would have been the fourth school for Matthew from Kindergarten through now fifth grade. Aaron was still too have started kindergarten the next fall. I had grown up moving way too many times and it hurt my educational process in ways that are still evident today. So, a part of our objective was to find a bigger house that we could buy and have it be in the same school district.
We didn’t have to look for very long or very far at all! In fact, we found our 8123 Westview Lane home just two blocks away. It was a two story house, or as it was known in the real estate world, a Raised Ranch. It had four bedrooms, albeit small ones, that would give everybody their own room, plus one that doubled as a guest room and Donna’s sewing room, her other happy place! It also had a room for me to have a home office, and another that was a family/TV room that soon evolved into a Man-Cave. Was this to be our “forever home?”
I often hear others talking about their “forever homes.” What is that anyway? It’s certainly not in this world. I have often thought that even though I loved this house, and my job, and my church, I never was one to expect this to be my last stop in my residence, or my career, and certainly not this world. Now on the last day I would ever be in 8123 Westview I was at such a place in life, and it had been in motion for three years, (maybe more). Since I accepted a job at Harding University in 2008, Donna and I had been working to get us both back to Arkansas, settled into new jobs, find a new house and getting on with life far away from Woodridge, Illinois. The boys were gone and married, living somewhere else and I knew it was time for this house to be a home to another family. This old house had served us well, and the joy, laughter and tears of pain would always echo through its walls. I knew the final day was coming, sometimes at a crawlingly slow pace, and sometimes the days and years flew by quickly. Now, here I am standing in the middle of the upstairs living room as the last moments in this house were occurring… I knew I was about to get emotional, (as I am so prone to do), so I told Aaron and Kara to go on outside, that I would be out in a few minutes because that I needed a moment to look around to make sure I had everything. In fact, I just needed a moment to myself to allow the tears to start flowing because I knew they were coming.
As my eyes welled up with tears, I inhaled a gasp of air, then exhaled, and then quickly composed myself, knowing that there was nothing else to see here. Everything I wanted from 8123 Westview Lane was now in my past… and in my memories. It was time to go. I wasn’t sure where I would end up, but I knew it wasn’t here anymore. I also knew, that wherever that was… God would take me by the hand and would lead me to new days and new adventures.
“Let’s go,” I said to myself, and just like that it was over! I walked out of 8123 Westview Lane… and moved on down the road!
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Steve Shaner, is a professional storyteller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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