Fluff and stuff

I live in an older neighborhood.  The homes in our area for the most part were all built prior to 1925.  Most of them, in fact, were built prior to 1915.  As best we can figure, our home was built in 1905.  In 1903, the appraised value was set at $500.  In 1907, the appraised value was set at $5000.  It is assumed that the house and carriage house caused the value to rise, but no one is certain.

We have lived in our neighborhood for 19 years now.  About six years ago, we moved from our first house – a brick house that was originally built as a teacherage for the neighborhood Lutheran school.   We were the third owners and the house was built in 1923.  The house we moved into is two doors down from our old house.

The people who lived here at the time, announced they were getting a divorce.  They were going to put the house up for auction, but agreed to sell it to us for the cost of their mortgage.  The realtor who sold our other house told us we should have trouble sleeping at night, since we stole it from them.   🙂     (She was kidding, she was thrilled for our wonderful bargain.)   So we went from 1600 square feet to 2500 square feet.  We felt like we had moved to a castle.

We love our little neighborhood….no, we love many of the people in our little neighborhood.   We have seen them go through life and death and birth and aging and the passing of major life events: marriages, grandbabies (and great grandbabies) being born, people moving in or out, high school graduations and obviously divorce.

I remember the night shortly after 9-11, when all of America was asked to light a candle and take time to pray for those who were still missing or had been killed.  At the pre-appointed time, we gathered our candles and went to our front porch.  The sun was just setting and Jeff (who has a HUGE and lovely voice) began to sing.  (loudly)   🙂   As we watched the sun fall behind the trees, Jeff’s voice rang out loud and clear with “God Bless America”.  As he sang, our neighbors came out of their homes and stood on their porches, as well.

Several of our neighbors are older so our children went to stand with them.  In the stillness of that early fall night, with just a slight breeze to accompany us, we all stood on our front porches and sang, holding our candles high – hoping to bring light into the darkness of this world.

When one song would stop, another would begin.  Just as the final song ended, there arose in the night a single trumpet.  “America the Beautiful” played pure and crisp – all alone.  It was truly a majestic moment.  The air was thick with emotion, as most of these people were old enough to have given a husband, son or friend to a war.  It was a precious and truly memorable moment in my mind.

Today was another such moment, but not nearly so sweet.  Today, we stood and watched as they carried one of our dear neighbors out of her home – possibly for the last time – on a stretcher.  She has been doing poorly recently, according to another neighbor and he didn’t think she would make it.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and every year for the 19 we’ve been here, her house overflows with laughter, color and lights as her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all come to celebrate Christmas at her house.  Tomorrow it will be dark and silent.  I am not one of her relatives, but I can assure you that Christmas just won’t be the same without the Martin family gathering to welcome the holiday and enjoy one another.

This evening, as I watched the stretcher coming down the stairs and frail Mrs Martin lying there amongst the white blankets that surrounded her tiny 90 yr old body, I felt a pit develop at the base of my stomach.  I looked into my kitchen and there on the table was the beginning of the goodies we were baking, in plans of taking them to our dear elderly neighbors tomorrow.

All through December, I have been putting off our normal baking.  I told myself we didn’t have the money to buy ingredients.  I told myself I was too busy to bake “yet”.  I told myself all kinds of things – and tonight, as I watched Mrs Martin leaving, thinking it quite likely we’d not see her again, this side of glory – I was grieved.

Time is so short -and I am not at all certain I have made the best choices in how I’ve spent it.  Once again, I find myself face to face with the great importance of relationship and yet, I have been distracted by the great unimportance of “stuff”.  Tomorrow as I finish my baking, I’m still going to make a plate up for Mrs Martin.  If Father should take her home, I will freeze her goodies.

In a week or so, while Jeff and I pray and lay out our goals for the next year, I’ll pull them out for us to eat.  And every time I take a bite, I pray that I will be reminded of what is truly important in this lifetime and what is just fluff and should be swept away, like dust.

5 Responses to “Fluff and stuff”
  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh so true, time is so very fleeting…hard to know how best to spend this precious amount we are given…and we never know just how much that might be. Blessings to you and yours!

  2. Susan PA says:

    You have me weeping…in a good way…


  3. Holly says:

    I left my parent’s home yesterday – after a good but exhausting day. (It’s very hard to contain all of my little people amongst all of the breakables, thru nap time, etc.) But as we drove away, I knew that all too soon the days would end when we are able to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My heart and head carried a picture of walking thru their house when they are gone…full of memories. I was comforted by all of eternity we will have with all of our loved ones and friends and NEW friends….

    But you write so true and beautiful about the passage of time and the STUFF, dear Dawn. Wonderful reminder.

    Love, Holly

  4. javadawn says:

    Oh Susan, I’m sorry to make you weep. 😕

    Elizabeth – thank you my dear for the blessings.

    HollyBelle, I know what you mean about the passing of time with our parents. I think of that often when I think of how short our time with my Mum was.

    It all passes so quickly – sometimes it takes my breath away!

  5. javadawn says:

    Just as a PS to all this….Mrs Martin is still in the hospital. Her surgeon was talking to her son (who, btw has his wife in one room in ICU and his mother across the hall in another!!) and told him if it were his mother, he wouldn’t have her get the surgery that is needed. However, he told him this in the hall outside her hospital room – Mrs Martin called out, “If there is a surgery to help this, I want it!!”
    The surgeon looked at her son, shrugged and said, “But that’s MY Mom.” 😀 😀 We all laughed when we heard that – SO like our Mrs Martin!!

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