Mended Dreams

5 03 2012

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How many can remember the 1st house they ever owned? What a feeling, huh?  This is yours, no one else’s, to do with and create a home to your specifications and liking; just no feeling like it!  For my Lady and me that 1st house is the same one we’re in today.  We built our little abode 30 some years ago and we love it just as much today as we did the day we moved in.  For one of my heroes, that dream came true with the purchase of an old, almost dilapidated apartment house back in Ohio.

My Great Aunt Pearl and her husband had moved around several places looking for steady work for her, since he suffered a disability and a place to call home. Answering an ad that was running in a Kentucky newspaper, they moved to Fremont, Ohio with my mother and yours truly in tow.  The jobs that Pearl and my mom found were menial labor that paid little, but at least it was steady income.  Finding a place to live that was affordable was a difficult task.  We ended up in a one bedroom cottage style house that also had a kitchen, bath and living room, located on the east side of town near the Sandusky River.  Everyday Pearl would walk to work since we didn’t own a car, and everyday her path would take her past this old house that I spoke about earlier. Part of the roof was damaged, the porch was falling on one side and it had several broken windows, not to mention it was in need of a real good painting.  The place had sat empty for several years and from the looks of it, I and others could see why.  But Pearl saw something different.  She saw a palace in the rough, a stately manor just waiting for the right person to come along and restore this old pile of dirty boards and glass to its original beauty.  “Oh, if only I could buy this house,” Pearl would think as she walked past.  

One day she saw some people there at the house and learned the elderly woman with them was the owner so she stopped and asked if she would consider selling the house and for how much. This was quite a step for Pearl, asking such a question, knowing all the money she had in the world was $1800 that was kept in an account in Kentucky; there was no way she could afford the place, but she had to ask anyway.  A gentleman spoke up saying they had to get $2500 for the place; but the kind, older woman spoke, “Now you know we haven’t had one offer in 3 years at that price.”  Looking at Pearl now, “If you are interested in the house, would you consider $1800?”  It took my Aunt Pearl an all night bus trip to Kentucky to get there when the bank opened, withdraw her money and back on a north bound bus.  Two weeks later we were packed up and living in a small portion of the house; and so the work began.  

First was cleaning and ridding the house and property of trash.  Then came fixing the roof and the porches, front and back.  There were several out buildings that had to be torn down and the refuse carted away.  Next came repairing walls and the attic with new studs, wall board and insulation.  There was plumbing and electrical work that had to be run or replaced through much of the house. Finally came Pearl’s pride and joy of her dream estate, sanding and varnishing the oak floors and wall trim.  That was a forever job, but when finished they were simply beautiful.  Now remember, there was no hired construction firm that came in and did all this.  Mom, Pearl, Pearl’s husband, Price as we called him, and me doing little odd jobs mostly to keep me busy and out of the way.  Some things, sure, had to be hired out, but the majority of the work was done by these three, but particularly Pearl.  She worked an afternoon job so she was always up early to do as much as she could around the house before she left for her shift.  All the remodeling and transformation work took several years to accomplish since all materials needed were bought as money was available. (How’s that for and interesting concept in this day and age?)  Backbreaking and painstaking for quite some time, but in the end, a most beautiful home complete with flower trellises and a garden that helped to set it off its attractiveness even more.  For the first time in her life, Pearl had the home she wanted.  Paid for and well kept, nothing could ruin this dream; except maybe a flood.

I mentioned we lived near the river, just one block from the banks, and in the early spring the Sandusky would rise above normal levels; this one certain year it overflowed and was running down the streets nearest to it, ours included.  We were forced to evacuate and take shelter at a church on the west side of town, up the hill away from the rising flood. This was only a temporary move and we were able to go home after only a few days; but the damage was done.  The water had risen high enough to reach the 1st floor of our home leaving standing puddles and dirty silt sand everywhere.  The reek of sewage permeated the entire structure, but the worst, Pearl’s oak floors and wall boards were ruined. I remember her walking all through the house and then stopping in the dining room, sitting down in a chair and crying.  All the work, money, toil and love that had gone into making her dream a reality, and now only to see it ruined was just more than she take; for about five minutes. Then it was buckets, mops, and shovels, airing everything out, followed by tearing off the baseboards and replacing the bottoms of the walls that were ruined.  Finally, once again, came the slow process of bringing back to life those beautiful oak floors.  The whole process took easily another year.  When completed a 2nd time, Pearl’s dream home was re-mended and more beautiful than the 1st.  It could have been easy to throw up her hands after the flood, seeing that much of her work had gone to spoil, possibly even given consideration of selling and getting out of there.  But that wasn’t the spirit of this mountain woman.  The vision of what she saw, of what could be and would be was tarnished for only a moment; then it was roll up the sleeves and get back to it.  I have many fond memories of that house and all the visitors and yard parties Pearl had.  When visiting back in the old neighborhood, it breaks my heart a little to see that it has wore down from the home my precious Aunt created.  

Pearl is now gone, thus goes the dream with her.  But if I close my eyes, I can see it all once again, from bunking on cots in two usable rooms, to a five bedroom, two bath, beautiful manor all transformed with determination, a no quit or give up attitude, and most of all love and a vision that no one else possessed.

God sees us the same way.  Many lives are run down for many reasons and to the world, there are a number of us that just don’t seem to have much to offer, much that’s appealing.  God looks at each and every one of us and says, “My, what a beautiful creation I have here!”  “And with love, determination and a no quit attitude, (His, not Yours), I know there’s something very special here just waiting to emerge.”

Psalm 145:9, 17 – “Never give up on yourself, for in God’s eyes, you’re a keeper! 🙂


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