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.IMG_2301

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.  IMG_7429Summers 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.IMG_9943

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.

Aimee's 1st Christmas PartyIt’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.  IMG_5750

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.IMG_9938

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.

IMG_9930We’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,

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  • Carrie Turansky says:

    Oh Cathy….I’m crying now. What a beautiful post. I feel so blessed to have been one of those guests to spend a few days at Laurelea…and I loved everyone of them. I am praying for you and Dan as you walk out the door and head south. New dreams are on the horizon, my friend. Sending love and prayers, Carrie

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Thank you, dear Carrie. Those prayers are so much appreciated! You were always an honored and so appreciated guest in our home at Laurelea. I look forward to welcoming you again wherever we go. God’s blessings!

  • Gloria Delk says:

    Cathy, this is one of the most beautiful and touching posts I’ve ever read, and a real and true portrait of the life you and Dan have had so far at Laurelea. I know that this is a long chapter in a full and happy life there, and that God has already planned more blessings than we can count for your future ahead! He has much work for you ahead, and wherever He leads, He has paved the way and will walk with you. I love you, my sister! Blessings, Gloria

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Thank you, Sweet Sister! Saying good-bye is always hard and I know we’re no different than others who cross this threshold in life. But, this one is ours and that makes it poignant for us. I’m excited to see what God has prepared and eager to walk where He calls. Love and blessings for you!!

  • Cathy, I’m crying here as I remember all the sweet moments we’ve shared in your home. Your welcoming smile and embrace were as evident in your beautiful home by the river, as it was in you.

    You are a good steward of many cherished memories and I’ve learned so much from your gracious generosity and hospitality.

    It is for this very reason that I know the future for you and Dan will have an ocean of new memories that you will make and keep.

    To all of us who know you and have been blessed by you, thank you.

    And thank you Laurelea, may you carry that sweet anointing of peace and hope to all who enter in.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      And now I’m crying, dear Terri! So many precious writing retreats and such blessed fellowship! We’ll find a new place and welcome you there with open arms. We’ll look forward to you and Bob coming whenever you can. Yes, I pray that anointing on Laurelea, too. The family renting is a wonderful family–three children, two parents and one older mother who will love and live it well. God provides in all things. Hugs and God’s blessings for you!

  • BJ Hoff says:

    You have such a wonderful gift of painting pictures with words, Cathy. This entry is an especially beautiful example of that gift. Thanks for the tears and the smiles.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      You’re so kind and generous, BJ. Thank you for sharing this unique moment in our lives. God’s blessings!

    • Susan Stompf says:

      @BJ Hoff – Couldn’t agree more! Who ever would have thought they could see all of the pictures Cathy’s written words tell? I always say I am so happy to travel with her, through her books! Her books are excellent…. wish I could be a proofreader. so I could get the book even before it is ready to get sent to printer! 😉

  • Margie Blystone says:

    So lovely Cathy. You brought me to tears. It’s quite obvious that wherever you go, you will make it a warm, comforting and loving home. Many blessings to you and yours.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Thank you, Margie! I pray this is so. I know that when we finally land somewhere I’ll eagerly set about making it home. The uncertainty of where and when that will be is unsettling, but I rest in knowing God’s got this covered! May He bless you!

  • Megan Petkewec says:

    Peace be with you, dear Cathy. Your post is lovely and a beautiful reflection of both you and your home. Have a safe journey and let us know where you land. =o)

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Thank you, Megan! You already know about moving away–the thrill of new discoveries on the horizon and the sad good-byeing of those you love and know you’ll sorely miss. But, God is good all the time, and all the time . . . God is good! Blessings for you and Michael!

  • Mary Netreba says:

    Cathy, much prayer coming your way for the both of you. Blessings…


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