Today we officially begin a new chapter in our lives, having closed on our first home here in Indiana. We put off buying a place until we were sure we were staying put, having taken a total bath when we sold our last home in Michigan. Although moving is never fun, there were some bright spots. One of the brightest was meeting the former owner, a preacher’s wife with a fifty-year-old son with special needs. Her husband had died of Alzheimer’s disease several years ago, and it was clear she needed to sell the home because it had become too much for her. It was equally clear that she regretted having to leave.
She graciously allowed us to come in to the house to paint Christopher’s new bathroom, turning it from cotton-candy pink to Legend of Zelda green. She offered us some of the things she and her husband had collected in their missionary travels, things she couldn’t bear to send to Salvation Army but could not keep herself. I looked at her and recognized a kindred spirit, someone who had lived through difficult circumstances, yet remained confident in the benevolent providence of the Almighty (at times despite all appearances to the contrary). I suspect our paths will cross again.
Even so, I felt (perhaps “hoped” is a better word) as though in meeting Donna, I had been given a glimpse into the future. Her children grown and gone, for the most part, she could look around her and see in every room signs of a life well lived, icons of memories past. Once she had an offer, she set to the work of detaching herself from these things, paring her life down to the essentials. And yet she exuded love and kindness, for her identity was not in “stuff.” They were means to an end, not the end in itself.
That’s the kind of person I aspire to be as I grow older. Even if we were to stay here twenty years or more, I aspire to be the kind of person who can detach so easily, and give so generously. “You never see a U-Haul behind a hearse,” the saying goes. Thanks, Donna, for the reminder. We promise to take good care of our house. Come and see us soon. We’ll leave the light on for you.