Sometimes, you don't come home.
When my mom was diagnosed
with dementia several years ago,
my family began that inevitable journey
towards the day when she would
no longer be able to remain on the farm.
After two years of providing
24 hour care for her
we had no options left,
but to take her out of the farmhouse
in which she was born 82 years ago,
and move her into my sister's home.
And so on Sunday,
we had a party on her behalf.
We invited family, neighbors, and friends
to visit her one last time
under the big maple tree
that had housed many picnics & parties
through the years.
Then, after the party,
she was escorted to my sister's car,
never again to set foot on the farm.
We experience last times for many things in life,
this last time just seemed a little bigger.
The week prior to the party,
there had been heavy rains and winds.
The yard was a mess,
with branches and leaves
covering the overgrown grass.
The day before the party, the unexpected happened....
the sun finally came out and began to dry the land.
And so I did what any son would do.
I seized the opportunity and began to mow the lawn.
When you mow a large property,
you have time to think.
And so I mowed,
and I thought about all the memories of life on the farm.
Bailing hay on the 4th of July,
in 95 degree heat.
Supper at 5 o'clock every day,
with the entire family sitting down to table.
Making homemade ice cream with mom
and taking turns at churning.
Hosting neighbors and friends on the weekends,
playing in the creek on hot summer days.
The bush where I hit my brother
in the head with a baseball bat (accidentally)
Putting up with older sisters'
high school friends who came for sleepovers.
Birthdays when friends were able to come over for the entire weekend.
Sitting on the porch in the late evening
and listening to the crickets
or watching the fireflies.
Herding livestock in
when storms approached.
The smell of apples on the trees in the autumn.
that began with hunting
and ended with extended family
gathered around a table
that had to extend into the living room.
Summers that seemed to last forever,
a swing that hung from a large tree branch,
and sandboxes where we created entire civilizations.
There were sad times too.
Deaths in the family.
Gathering together to grieve.
Times when the family was
challenged with disputes and circumstances.
The day the barn burned,
and watching the helpless expression on a dad's face.
But there was always a tomorrow.
Time to rebuild barns.
Time to heal from physical and emotional wounds.
Christmas in the early years.
Taking the tractor out to the grove
and bringing in a fresh tree.
A dad who would foolishly climb the windmill
to place the Christmas star at the highest point.
Big gaudy Christmas bulbs on the front yard bushes
And cold winters,
with snow drifts taller then I could reach.
Bedrooms so cold
I couldn't wait to slip under the electric blanket.
that made the house feel so good
when you came in from the cold.
with the obligatory photos in our new clothes,
always in front of mom's flower beds.
Croquet & football games in the front yard.
The smell of manure freshly spread in the springtime.
Secret trips to the attic,
just to explore what was there
avoidance of the cellar,
which seemed so scary.
When you have a lot of grass to mow,
you can think about a lot.
And so today,
I thought about how much there was to remember.
How much there was for which to be thankful.
How within another generation,
these wonderful stories and memories
would be forgotten.
As I turned off the mower,
I looked at the new home that had just gone up
on the other side of the pasture.
A new family starting their own memories.
Just up the road,
a home had been recently built
to house those with disabilities.
Another type of family,
beginning its own journey.
Yes, it is true,
sometimes you don't come home.
But I am learning that that is okay.
It's what happens when you are a part of eternity.
There is another place for you.
And so as mom was helped into the car,
for that final trip down the driveway,
there was sadness,
but also joy.
A sadness that recognizes we are witnessing a close to a season of life.
But a joy that comes in knowing that there is another season
both for us, and for the families that follow on this sacred space.
And the greatest joy is knowing,
that God is preparing those who love Him,
the best home of all.
In my Father's house,
are many dwelling places;
if it were not so, I would have told you;
for I go to prepare a place for you.