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Lessons from a Farmhouse  

Saturday morning.  We are standing around the massive oak table in the farmhouse where my wife, Diana, grew up.  Her brothers are there along with a few other family members. 

This place is Christmas and Easter and crowds and kids. This is the table you gather around where smoked ham melts in your mouth.  Where your plate is so heaping, melted red Jell-O streams like edible lava down your mountain of mashed potatoes.

The house is empty now. Diana’s mom passed away more than a year ago, her dad 12 years before that. So the estate needs to be cleared out and cleaned up.  I find myself angry at the many cobwebs.  How dare the spiders claim such a disproportionate amount of space on the walls and in the corners?  Such is the inevitable state of a house not lived in.

We are sifting through furniture and dishes and antiques and knick-knacks asking who would like what.  Everyone is polite and uncharacteristically reserved.  More than decorum, I’m convinced there’s a numbness borne of lingering loss. 

It is the oddest of family gatherings. 

Stories finally tumble out and dust bunnies dance with the laughter.  Whether therapy or harmless reminiscing, it doesn’t matter.  Everyone seems hungry to laugh. 

As this photo and that knick-knack are parceled out, it feels like a cruel surgery—one without anesthesia, where paintings and pictures are peeled off the wall.  These things belong here.  In their place.  In this home.  Except, it’s not really home anymore. Diana’s Mom and Dad are gone.  What is left? Just memories—and stuff.   But isn’t that the story of us all? 

Diana and I both walk away with two lessons from the morning.  The first lesson: hold stuff lightly.  Even those possessions you and I prize the most will someday be reduced to a dust pasture.   Hold stuff lightly. 

The other lesson? Hold people tightly.  People are not forever.  Despite the bravado of youth and the tenacity of folks who seem like they’ll “always” be there, we are all born with an expiration date.   Ultimately, the only comfort in this reminiscing is the reality that home is yet to come: Heaven.

I wanted to close this blog with the Bible verse that says “Set your minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”  But I was unsure of the reference.  So I picked up my iPhone and said to Siri, “Set your minds on things above,” presuming she’d connect me with the reference.   Instead, she replied, “I’m not sure I understand.”

Not many do.

 

 

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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