Pulling the Trigger
I pulled the trigger.
I sold the house and packed up. Leaving the home I have known far longer than any other., I am now living in a cabin in the woods while I contemplate life, the value of possessions, and what is the next right step.
“Decluttering” was the genteel word used by my realtor (Bless his heart) for the metaphorical process of opening all the doors and windows of a home, picking it up, shaking vigorously, and replacing only those items that make it appear like a dollhouse to potential buyers. That took a month, working 12-hour days) and it must have worked as the house was sold the day it went onto the market. That day I began packing in earnest, trying to organize my stuff into a place a third its size. Much needed to be tossed: the hind end to projects for which the fore-end had been sacrificed for other things; the projects of my children which have corroded into uselessness; the clothes which are now too voluminous for me.
Much was donated to my church, given away to those I thought might appreciate, or junked. I left the echoing shell of my home with ninety minutes to spare and, exhausted, dozed off in a Starbucks, nearly missing the closing.
It is a new start for me.
In many ways, it is immensely discouraging—the death of dreams. I got my degree in 1972. That year, Nixon would be reelected by a colossal landslide but never finish his term; Viet Nam was still going strong, and I was draftable for the first time in my life. My current girlfriend had told me to go away. The uncertainty of training loomed large.
Since then, I have lived in ten homes, convinced an otherwise rational young woman to bear our children, educated them, saw them depart for “lives and loves their own,” and been hospitalized six times. I had imagined giving my daughter away to a young stalwart—that was not to be. I had imagined growing older and more companionable with the woman I loved (and love) and married. That is another failed dream. I had envisioned using that nice bit of old heart pine I have hoarded for a decade to fashion a lazy-susan for one of my children, imagining my handiwork as a centerpiece of meals and conversation long after I am gone. That is not to be.
My oncologist is happy (and we must all strive to make our oncologists happy!) with my response to his ministrations. However, the medications are sapping my stamina, and it is time to retrench. I have enjoyed keeping a garden and maintaining a lawn of several acres. These are too taxing, knocking me out for a day apiece even as I slow in completing the tasks.
Throwing my fate together with another grumpy old man (Dr. Dan, a childhood friend, fellow believer, and fellow writer) for company, I purchased the sunny side of a ridge in Tennessee. We pray, study the Word, take out the trash (a complicated evolution involving lifting a huge bear-proof can and driving it ten miles to be emptied), and get on with life.
We have gotten a dog, not a puppy but a resident of a local animal shelter for the last year. Her breed is imprecise, but most would identify her as a pit bull. She will tolerate no other animal in the house. Dropped off as an adolescent after her first owner’s domestic situation changed, she was adopted out and again abandoned a year ago. At sixty-eight pounds, she is no lap dog. Mandy, the attendant at the pound, a wonderful woman who plays dog-catcher and animal shelter worker for the county out of a tiny office at the end of Tobacco Road, sighed. “She will probably never leave here.” We happily dumfounded her when we called back to say we wanted to take her.
I wished to name here Peaches Barkowicz. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Bartkowicz). But we settled on “Babe,” as in Blue Ox, which seems apt. (https://americanfolklore.net/folk-tales/index.php/2010/07/06/babe-the-blue-ox/ ). Obedience lessons continue.
We all need new starts. Our God is a God of fresh starts and second chances, gracious to us with the many new beginnings He gives us. C.S. Lewis contends that we are like God’s dogs, in which case, I can imagine I am experiencing a trifling slice of the mind of God by giving a new home to Babe in the cabin we have called Domus Secundi Casu.
1 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Eccles 3: 11 (NLT)