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