By the end of the week, all of our ties to the community of Springfield will be severed. Our home will be in auction. Through no choice, no fault of ours.
In 2008 my wife and I had moved to the next phase of our life with our home. We were readying for 2 apartments to add on our home for family to provide sufficiency to our lives. A 5 room lower level. A 2 bath, 4 room upper level. Complete with generator and income production. The meadow provided for our children and the grandchildren. We had just added a $20,000 septic system and were ready for the next stage.
August 5th, 2008 all life changed for us.
The destruction of my home-I have made this considerably longer than the other parts and pieces, because it consumed so much of my life and what I was doing. It affected me spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.
We had a home on a hill. 40 mile views, meadow, peace and we called it our own.
The state was asking us to remove the 2,500 gallon underground oil tank that was at the rear of the property. It abutted the foundation of our lower level. So, after going back and forth for a few years, my wife and I agreed. We did all the normal; bids, inquiry and information. We decided on the contractor. With 24 hours of the work being completed our lives were upside down.
Early in the morning my daughter came up stairs to let me know her room was filling with water. 6” of water and more coming in. Through the utility room, through the back wall.
When I think about the damage that was done to the house I have to say I go through all the emotions. I’m reminded of the times I would sit up on the roof with my kids just looking out over meadows, out over the Connecticut River and into Hampshire. I would think how cool is this? Even lying here now and thinking about lying on the roof and looking out wells me up with emotion. Times that are now memories, with seemingly no hope for more. I think about the barbecues with Jacob, Jordan and Mariah sitting at the picnic table eating dinner with us. Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, all those things and I just wonder how much I have lost. In the midst of this, I remember sitting there the night the house flooded when my daughter came upstairs and told me there was water all over the floor and I remember the sinking feeling I had.
I always believed that a good father left a good legacy and I know legacy is more than just things. My personal plan was to put the addition on, have the property be income producing and be available for my children and their children to live on there. To have the house be debt-free and to be able to invest in my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren. I remember the first words that were spoken over the house where friend of mine Wayne said this is truly an “eagle’s nest” as he sat with 43 of us in the living room. I remember all the Christmas trees (14’ footers) and how I would be there and put these trees up and my wife would not look as I climbed up on top of the ladder and reached out over the Christmas tree. Our Christmas trees were sometimes so big that they did not even fit in the living room and they covered the door. I’m sad because I do not have the ability to have that type of Christmas tree anymore. Sad because I do not have the ability to even go out my front door and run into a critter. (I have had snakes on my deck, moose resting their head on my railings, turkeys and birds in the birdbath…) I’m angry because I live in an apartment now and every time the people downstairs smoke it enters into my apartment. Because of our financial situation I can even get another apartment. I’m not looking for sympathy or for you to feel sorry for me. That’s really not my thinking. My goal is simply to point out that in the midst of everything sometimes life gets interrupted as you understand. It messes with you.
I remember the first year I fought hard to save my house. I spent two whole months working hard. We were waiting for insurance that did not come. For respite and help that did not materialize. My wife would tell you nearly we spent 24/7 pumping water out of the basement waiting for the “rescue.” Making sure pumps functioned, that water went outside and not back into the house. I was so thankful when my friend Mike showed up and offered to watch the house for 24 hours and we could just get away.
I remember the installation of the drain system the next year and the financial costs. $10,000 for the interior and $13,000 for the exterior. (Pumps, lines, etc..) For what? Even as I went to the house this week the basement was soaking wet after all that investment. What do you do with that? The last few days I’ve been up at the house or sorting through the boxes. As I walked to the house I see the grass that’s not mowed, the lawn that’s just out of control and the skeleton of the new structure we were trying to put into play. As I entered the hallway and I saw the books on the shelves in the clutter in the hallway a part of me that feels out of control. I look at the bench where children and grandchildren sat, putting on their boots, taking off their shoes. I look in the kitchen were so many meals were made by both my wife and myself. I remember all the friends we entertained at our dining room table as we looked out over the mountains.
At one point I couldn’t take going in any further so I went back outside and I walked around the property. I looked at the donkeys that our neighbor puts out in our meadow. I see the woodchuck crawling across the field. And I hear the birds singing and the geese honking. I climb up on the deck and I remember all the parties all the coffee I had in the morning all the afternoon meals with friends. I remember the moose that came up and put his head up on my deck as I petted him. I remember the turkeys that were out on our container one day scaring the life out of me. I remember my son Matt chasing the turkeys across the meadow. I remember Amy on Easter weekend playing baseball with the family and my daughter Cass practicing archery in the back. I even remember the hard times where lightning wrecked our well and we had to pull hundreds of feet of plumbing out in the meadow. I remember playing King of the Hill on the back hill. I remember teaching my children and my grandchildren to sled. I remember the neighbors that would walk by each day greeting us. As I walked around the house and I looked at the apple tree and the hammock that was there.
I also recognize my life is so much simpler. I don’t have a lawn to mow or a field to hay. I don’t have leaves to rake or trees to prune. I don’t even have a garden. I really missed it. I remember going out in the garden sticking my hands in the soil picking peppers picking tomatoes and just enjoying what I had. I remember taking my grandson Jacob out into the meadow as they mowed field and the times that my grandchildren spent on tractors. I remember walking down to the pond with them looking at the frogs and ducks. I remember a lot of things. I remember very few of the difficult times to be quite honest with you. I don’t remember the fights or the sicknesses or any of those things.
I walk back in the house and I go downstairs just to see part of our basement that held the transmitter where the local radio station paid us to rent. I also remember replacing the furnace after the flood. And how thankful I was for good friends like my friend Andy. I walked to the room that had been my son Tyler’s room. I remember watching him recover from his injuries. The next room was my wife’s office. And next to that was the room that my daughter and her children lived in after she made this decision to kick her addictions. The room next to it had alternated between my daughter Cass and my son Matt. It was in that room that my son found the love of the father and his own father and he gave his life to the Lord. It was in that room that my daughter Cass lived after the death of her mother. As I looked at the utilities I thought about all the dreams and plans Tina and I had for this house I cried. I walked up the stairs and thought about all the stuff that I had wanted to do; room for my tools, places to store things, dreams. One of the greatest things about our home was the fact that it had one and a half baths and allow the student lives the family with little friction in that area.
I walked into the office where I spend my days creating websites, developing newspapers, putting my thoughts together. Across the hall was my wife and I and bedroom was in that room Lord spoke to me so many times. The cathedral ceilings allowed me to watch the stars or the sun depending on the time of day as I would meditate on the goodness of the Lord. I thought about all the friends that had stayed with us over the years. Friends in ministry and friends that were downtrodden who just needed a place to crash. The thought of them and even the ones he slept on in our field. I always thought we would be a place of hospitality. I thought that we would get this house to the place where would be debt-free. That people would be happy to visit. That Tina and I would be able to do all the things we felt we were called to do. When our house was ruined became to a screeching halt in our lives. Vacations stopped, holidays changed and we found ourselves moving all around as we tried to salvage the lower level but we never received any insurance from either the contractor nor our commercial or residential insurance. We fought hard for but it just seemed like everything worked against us.
The following November we realized that black mold had crept in horrible home we were forced to move out and wound up moving to an apartment in that apartment served us well but we still made every attempt to salvage the house. We went back up there in the spring and we began to work on the house. We started to knock out the sheet rock and realize the whole house had become a black hole.
We stayed in that apartment for a little over a year and that we needed to move again we moved to a one-bedroom apartment in another part of town. That following spring we made the decision to purchase an RV to put up on the property so we wouldn’t be spending all her money. But our best efforts to get everything done were constrained by the amount of money and stop the flow of water in the basement area which should never had problems before. It was at that point we ran through the final parts of our savings and all the money were able to borrow. We spent the next winter living in a duplex and survived but it was at the end of that time that my wife just looked at me and said “honey I can’t do this anymore.”
Over the last week I began to go through boxes. Sorting stuff, removing stuff that been damaged by water and mold. I found the box that had some of my grandfather’s things including stirrups and a cannon ball from when he was in the calvary. I just remembered my grandfather and all he did me.
It was a memory opening time. I look at the computers that I’ve never had the opportunity to remove pictures and letters from. One of those computers has nearly 10 years of daily writing. I looked at the bookcases that had my dreams, my inventions, the reminders of my childhood, my children’s childhood and my grandchildren’s childhood. I looked at the file cabinets that contain all the information of all the years. I went into our bedroom and I looked at boxes of books, boxes of tapes, boxes of CDs and all those things. I looked up and saw the large pile of LP records from the radio station. I walked out in the living room and I sorted through things. I found pictures of my children, pictures of my ordination with my wife Tina. I looked at the pictures and I was reminded of all those people who are not in my life anymore. Some of passed away in some of moved on.
I recognized even in the interrupted process the process. I looked at the knickknacks, the little rocks my children had given me, gifts, birthday cards, Father’s Day cards, anniversary cards from children and friends. I confess, I just want my life back!
There’s not much more to say about it. I’ve gone through anger, sorrow, sadness, happiness, joyfulness, and the full gamut of emotions and. I am not angry at the people that hurt me, or wounded me or even took advantage of me. I’m angry because they do not see how it could ever be restored. My wife and I spent all those years planning, initiating and implementing everything we now. I would say it’s not fair, but I’ve never believed that life is fair.
Even now I remember all the nights we sat outside playing music, worshiping God and thanking him for his goodness. And thinking how awesome it was to be able to play my music the way I like it… Wow! And I found books and tapes and CDs, pictures, knickknacks and I know those are only temporal things so to speak, but every one of them is attached to my heart in some manner. To say that’s not godly is an insult to the very world that God created. How many times a day did I sit in a chair, talk to a friend, pray for my children and not know that God was in the room.
Well at some point in the next few weeks, everything will be moved out of her house, and someone else will take over the property and begin afresh. They will come in with their dreams, new thinking, and hope. I pray for whoever ends up with the property that they are blessed as my wife and I were blessed. I pray that if it’s a business they prosper. I pray that if it’s an individual that a hopeful spring will come forth in their lives and the blessing of the Lord will be upon them. I pray for the blessing of the Lord to be upon those that took advantages of us over this season. I’m thankful for those here in New Hampshire who received us into their midst. Friends and family with church and community..
I remember the first year I moved to the community that we lived. I never thought I would stay. I thought it was stop on the way to where we “were going.” It was shortly after my accident. (I had been hit by a taxicab and the Lord had restored me.) We moved to Springfield Vermont. We found a 3 bedroom apartment with a two car garage and a large covered porch. Kitchen, dining room, two living rooms and a fireplace. But 6 years later we were still there! And we decided to purchase our home. To become part of the community. And we did.
So here we come to the final week. I cannot begin to explain how difficult this is. Frankly, it is making me a little ill. Last year we did everything we knew how to do to resolve things with the bank. Their final response was a lawyer calling for the foreclosure of the home.
I know me. I will never want to go back. Never want to talk about. The rumors are flying, the accusations being made.
God you are bigger. I know you are.