A Norman Rockwell Moment
I lower the window in the pale light of dawn this spring morning and watch the sun climb through trees bordering the banks of the Laurel Run. My husband and I sit on the edge of the last mattress in our empty house, the last morning we’ll live here before a new family comes to rent our dream home. Our packed bag sits on the floor beside us.
A middle-aged couple edging autumn, we pray, hand in hand, and silently sip black coffee from Mickey-D cups and spoon too-sweet oatmeal into our mouths. We watch late winter birds flit from bare branch to bare branch, listen to the wind, familiar in the trees, and contemplate the current of the run going somewhere—just as we’re about to do.
We’ve raised our children in this house, welcomed new family members, rejoiced in the birth of a new generation, and closed the eyes of the old. This nest has welcomed family, friends, and strangers. We were given to hospitality and forgetting to water the plants and singing around an old upright piano at Christmas. Summers we entertained on the front porch in wicker rockers with tall glasses of sweet tea to the strains of wind chimes, and read and wrote from lounge chairs on the back deck, our Reilly dog between us.
We’re leaving the fire circle and picnic benches beside the boxwood garden where we’ve enjoyed countless campfires and stories and singing with our son’s guitar as stars winked high above us—summer, fall, winter and spring. We’re leaving the comforting gurgle of our Laurel Run, the hoot-owl’s lonesome call in the dead of night, and the wee-hour rumble of the freight train on the tracks through the woods. We’re leaving good neighbors and friends and the best church family a person could wish for.
Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, New Year celebrations and birthdays—too precious and many to number—have been lived inside these stout and cheerfully painted walls. It’s been home through good times and bad, hard times and easy—the kind of convoluted life that every family lives.
It’s been home through the most productive years of my husband’s career, and through the writing of each of my books, through teaching drama in the local high school, working in my beloved church and nurturing children’s love of reading at the school library.
We’ve hosted sleepovers and soccer and drama and paintball and Sweet Sixteen and graduation and engagement and tea parties and writing retreats and Bible studies and a baby shower—most of which ended up with singing around that campfire or that old upright piano.
I asked my husband to take down the sign by our front door, the one that reads: LAURELEA, and below it Emerson’s words, “The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.” Dan said it won’t belong anywhere else. I said it won’t mean the same to anyone else, and that we can hang it up wherever we go, a reminder of these days. So, it’s packed in a bin, somewhere.
We don’t know exactly where we’re going—only closer to our grown children and their growing family three hours away. We want to remain part of their lives and be helpful. We’ll support celebrations and make new memories in their homes and gladly, eagerly babysit our sweet granddaughter . . . and any precious children and grandchildren yet to come. We’ll cheer each achievement of our young grownups and their offspring alike.
We’ll host family dinners and board game nights to give our working children respite, and join them in worship on Sundays. We’ll make a guest room, ready and waiting for family, friends, and strangers. And life will go on. It will be wonderful and “new every morning” because God’s mercies are like that.
But, for now, I press my husband’s hand and he presses mine—two halves of a whole. We rise and face this day.
God’s blessings for you,