Monday, February 12, 2018

A Life Well-lived and A Mystery

Saturday morning I traveled to a city some fifty miles distant to attend the funeral of a very dear friend.  Although Howard was 86 years of age I cannot shake the feeling that he is gone too soon.  Good friends are all too few and they are leaving much too often these days.

I remarked to the grieving widow that Howard no doubt had more friends than anyone else I know for he worked at being a friend.  It was no surprise that friendship was a recurring theme of the memories-- that and Howard's unwavering love for Jesus and his desire that his friends would all come to know Him.

On the drive home I chose to take a route which I had driven day after day some six decades ago, for I lived in that town back then and drove twelve miles to work each day.   As I passed the little country church, three miles to go to reach the school where I had taught-- I started picturing the lay of the land as I had known it back then.  Coming up on the right and a mile before reaching the old school there would be the beautiful Bedford stone house which I had almost coveted in my youth.  What more could one want?  I thought it the epitome of design in residential structures and it was nearly new, having been built a mere half-dozen years before.   Abiding therein was a family who were patrons of the district, prosperous farmers, hard workers, who had two beautiful little flaxen-haired girls who attended our school.  Patty was in my homeroom, she as smart and capable and industrious as one might hope a sixth grade child to be.

There it is.  Same limestone house, same location.  And yet it looks so much smaller than I remembered it, possibly a thousand square feet, probably two bedrooms.  But that was not what most startled me.  The house was abandoned and clearly had been for some time.  The yard was overgrown not only with grass and weeds, but with scrub bushes. Sorry, bedraggled, and forgotten.

There on my left is the cemetery, then School in a Soybean Field apparently also deserted.  I drove on, pondering the fate of the inhabitants of the house I had once admired.  Why?  What happened? Where were those charming little girls now, little girls who would be in their sixties?  Things I'll never know.  The twists and turns that life takes are often imponderables in the broad scheme of things.

But I still wonder.

Howard Barefoot, 1932 - 2018  RIP

9 comments:

Grace said...

Indeed, to have a friend, be a friend.

Sharkbytes said...

Dang, I hate it when charming and unusual houses just fall into disuse.

vanilla said...

Grace, a maxim to live by!

Sharkey, likewise. There is a larger Bedford stone house 15 miles south of us well over thirty years old which has never been occupied. Stickers haven't even been removed from the windows. Curious? Of course, but what a waste.

Jim Grey said...

I'm sorry you lost your friend. It doesn't matter how old a good friend is, it's always too soon when one passes.

Lin said...

How nice to visit your old drive and to see the old sights. Sad about the house. I always wonder why a place is just abandoned like that. Seems a shame that it is just rotting.

Sorry about your friend. I have only lost one or two really good friends, but I dread the day when I hear of more and more. My in-laws have been through many losses as they are 91 now. They have outlived almost all of their friends. It is hard for them, as I am sure that it is very hard for you too.

I was thinking of you on Friday as we completed a fun puzzle. Such a good time of year for puzzles!

Secondary Roads said...

Those memories of where we used to be tend to be tied to who we were back then. Those big hills that I remember from my youth have become lower and flatter with time. It is sad to see an abandoned house.

The house is empty
I hear only the echo
Of what used to be

vanilla said...

Jim, I thank you. Blessed to have had a friend that will be missed.

Lin, thank you for caring. It is the way of all flesh and tshose who live longest experience more losses-- one of life's catch-22s, I think.

A puzzle in progress helps a couple endure the winter!

Chuck, strange how, though our memories may be vivid, the perspectives of age and experience change the landscape, is it not? A poignant 17-syllables. The Ionia County poet excels again!

Vee said...

Sad that we now attended many such services. So glad our hope is not on this earth.

vanilla said...

Vee, you are right on both counts.