It was important to me to arrive before dark. I pulled into the driveway around 5:00 p.m. on a mild but breezy day in early February. I glanced at the “For Sale” sign in the yard and pulled my scarf a little tighter around my neck as I walked down the sloping drive to the backyard. The chain-link gate was open wide inviting me in.
It was hard to imagine that almost thirty-five years had passed since I saw the house for the very first time after dark on that October evening – that a lifetime had gone by – raising a family and growing older.
I prayed for the new family that would come and restore the house …
~ that a spirit of unity would encompass every inch of the inside and the outside,
~ that the plank on the step of the lower deck would be nailed down,
~ that the football laying on top of the pool cover would sail through the air,
~ that the cover would be removed and sparkling blue water would swirl in the pool,
~ that someone would warm up for baseball games at the back fence,
~ that a ball would once again roll around the rim of the hoop on the garage and fall through for a score,
~ that there would be tinkering sounds in the garage,
~ that hot dogs and burgers would sizzle on the grill,
~ that a spunky young pup would dart back and forth between the fence on the property lines not knowing his predecessor rests below,
~ that little feet would chase fireflies as the sun went down,
~ that a cord of wood would be stacked at the back door ready to warm the inside with a cozy fire, both upstairs and downstairs,
… and, oh, so much more.
I looked toward the barren woods at the back of the yard beyond the fence and remembered the beautiful green tree line in summertime, the Redbuds in springtime, and the rustling of many leaves in autumn that covered the grounds. There is so much that only I could tell someone about this house – like why the drive is gated, why there is a door underneath the deck, why the garage is detached, why that was changed, when that was installed. But none of those things really matter anymore. It will be a home where someone else will have their own whys and whens.
I turned to walk back to the driveway and stopped at the side door of the garage. It was cracked open. The frame was worn. I could not bring myself to push the door open and walk inside. Instead, I strolled up the driveway to my car.
I doubt that anyone noticed my visit to the empty dwelling as I said goodbye, again, for the last time. I didn’t peek inside the house either.
I would never have guessed thirty-five years ago that this is the way I would bid farewell. I don’t know what happened here the last few years, but I know what can happen in the years to come.
Family, come hither. This house is ready to say, Welcome Home.