Yesterday we moved our remaining belongings from storage into our home. The place is a mess as I begin, once again, the arduous task of unpacking and deciding where to put “things.” But this is different. This time there will be no saving of boxes “for next time.” This time we are really settling in. In good time I will paint the walls colors of our choosing. In good time the carpeting will be ripped up and natural, beautiful hard wood floors will take its place. In good time a porch will be screened in so that we can enjoy sitting outside for three seasons of the year. In good time trees will be planted and gardens laid out . . . vegetables and flowers. In good time . . . the place will take the shape of what we want in our home. Our place is a small bungalow which suits us perfectly. Having lived in numerous places over the years, we have come to realize that “big” and “material” is not so important as “home” and “meaning” in life. We are already creating community as we get to know people in the nearby synagogue, and our neighbors are becoming our friends. In good time this will truly be our home.
Our world looked quite different five or six years ago. Then Richard was unemployed and I had a part-time teaching position in a sweet little parochial school. I have fond memories of that school, the students and fellow teachers, the community we lived in, but the pay was extremely low and simply did not cover the bills. Richard had recently completed another degree in hopes of pursuing a new career, but the doors weren’t opening. We relied on food stamps and a local food bank for our food. Toward the end of our stay there, a friend had to pay our rent because we had literally run out of money. Our entire savings was gone. Who can get up and rebuild lives from a place as low as the one we had reached? Maybe if we were young and had many years ahead of us, but we were grandparents with a few years yet till retirement age. We still had to survive and furthermore we were competing with people half our ages, people younger than our children with far less knowledge and experience than Richard and me, for jobs that were becoming more specialized and more scarce. The picture was bleak to say the least.
But Richard did get a job, a good paying job. We moved and started over. We began rebuilding. There have been a couple more moves since that time, and another job. Life did not suddenly become easy as we picked ourselves up. We continued to live frugal lives, cutting back and paring down where we could. We worked hard, and still do. Even at our ages, we have rebuilt. We are now living in the community we dreamed of living in. Richard did rebuild an adequate retirement so that he can now do contract work and not rely on the whims of others to make a living. I am studying to become a professional counselor, something I only dreamed of years ago. And most surprising of all, we were able to buy a little bungalow to make our home. Who would have thunk five years ago? Even the headaches of home ownership (which one discovers very soon after taking possession of a house!) are experiences for which I am thankful.
Through the trials we have become stronger. Richard’s and my relationship has strengthened with each crisis we faced. We have discovered what is of value, and what is not, as we have walked this path together. At the center of who we are is a strong religious belief in a good and benevolent (mostly) Creator, and a commitment to a rigorous, practical spiritual practice every day, from the time we arise in the morning till the time we recline at night. Many is the night I wet my pillow with my tears. Doubts and fears have been my companions from time to time, but so has belief and trust. I am old enough, and experienced enough, to know that more trials await. The advantage of age is that we discover that life keeps moving forward, changes continue to mold us, and trials give way to victories, sadness to joy. In good time . . .
So, this morning as I sit amid the boxes and clutter of finally unpacking the remainder of our belongings and creating the nest we call our home, I am profoundly thankful for this good time, for the good man whom I married, and for the life we have lived that has brought us to this time and place.