Take it or leave it?

“Take it or leave it?”

My brother, sister and I asked our dad that question countless times over the past few days. The time had finally come to move him from the house he's lived in for 48 years – and the community he's lived in his whole life – to my brother's home. The two-story house with full basement and quarter-acre yard finally became too much for him to take care of alone at age 89.



We started planning moving day earlier in the year, realizing that “maybe next year” had finally become “definitely this year.” We wrote it on his calendar, making the event real, bad started planning. Some days he as all for it. Others, he was not going.

We didn't have to sell the house right away. All we had to do was pack, clean and winterized it for now. Knowing that the house would still be there, along with anything we didn't bring along, turned out to be a comfort. One step at a time.

Now, what do we bring? Just enough furniture, pictures and belongings to make his new rooms look and feel like home. Going through the house we asked, “Take it or leave it?” Not too complicated (in order of importance): recliner, picture of mom, TV, desk, bed, dresser, cedar chest, clothes and personal items. When we set it up in his new room, it looked pretty nice. Joanna, the youngest of the grandchildren, made a sign for his suite on that side of the house: “Grandpa Sweet.” (I told her that if grandpa was having a bad day, he could flip it over to say, “Grandpa Sour.” She didn't appreciate my humor.)

With all of us there, I think dad handled it well. Beautiful fall weather and colors, not too much traffic, and a glass of wine waiting for him when we arrived made it a very nice transitional day. It's a comfort to know that he's in good company with good care.


A chance to help

Yesterday while I was working ahead on a bible class I'm teaching, a young man stopped by church looking for some help. He needed a place to stay and some gas for his truck. I'm often ready to help but always willing to converse, but I just felt like I needed to hear more of his story.

His name was Adam and he looked to be in his early twenties. He was from Missouri, and with neither parent alive, there was nothing left there for him. Like so many others, he thought he could find some opportunity in Florida. His pickup truck was running, it was filled with power washing equipment, and the driver's window wouldn't close. The previous nights showers interrupted his sleep as he spent the night in his truck.

I had him follow me up to the gas station to fill up, and though I couldn't get him a room, I did give him some money so he could eat. There may have been more to his story, but that wasn't all that important. I told him he might have a better chance of finding some work just down the road in Bunnell. And then I said, “I want you to know why I'm helping you today. I believe that a long time ago Jesus gave his life for me,and though I could never pay him back for that, I can thank him by helping others.” As I spoke, he slowly smiled and said, “I know he's my Lord and Savior. I know where I'm going!”

He drove off and I drove back to church. Our conversation was brief, but meaningful for me as well as Adam. I wonder what his version of the story would sound like.