They’re working on the inside of the house across the street.
They have memories of it from growing up in it, bringing their children and grandchildren to it, but now their visits are only bitter-sweet.
The sweet man who watched the street from his seat on the front porch joined his wife in the throne room of heaven this summer. His cane would rest on his lap as he noticed the comings and goings of all the neighbors.
We met him not long after we moved in. When we chatted he spoke fondly of his youth growing up near the Mississippi River, he chatted about his years working toward retirement at Trane and he would grow a little misty-eyed remembering his wife.
He didn’t share too much about his faith, but it was strong. No longer driving himself, he always had rides arranged to get him to and from his church both on Sundays and Wednesdays. He noticed the summer that college students’ cars lined the road between our house and his. He let me know he thought it was “pretty great” that those kids were coming over for Bible study.
His meals were brought by the Swan’s truck and every delivery he got, he ordered a box of ice cream bars for my girls. Honestly, he bought them faster than we could eat them. He’s been gone now over a month and there are still at least 3 boxes in our freezer. I never could find the words to ask him to stop because I knew he delighted in the few minutes our daughters spent with him as he would shuffle to his freezer for their sweet treat. I learned at his visitation that we weren’t the only ones he bestowed this honor of receiving his generosity in this way. He couldn’t drive, but he still found ways to give.
Now, when I open the freezer and notice the boxes, I cannot help but smile.
I still look for him sitting there on the porch as I make my daily jaunt to the mailbox at the end of my drive. I miss him waving at me and the girls as he watched us come and go from school to lessons to church to home to wherever else we may have been headed. I liked the fact that he was always there. He would just call periodically to check on us.
Soon, I am sure a relator will stake a sign in the yard. In our housing market, I know it won’t be long until someone else calls his house home. I pray for good neighbors. I pray that if the new owners don’t know the Lord, that the Lord would use us to help them become acquainted with Him.
But, as far as I am concerned, that house will always be Mr. McNantz’s. I rejoice that he is no longer lonely and has been reunited with his bride. His physical pain has ended. His faith has been made sight.
When my mind wonders to thoughts of this dear man, I take courage knowing that – the house across the street may be empty for now, but I know our neighbor is most-definitely home.
The house, neighborhood, city, state and country I proudly claim and call “home” really isn’t either. My home is where Mr. McNantz is now. His empty house is also a good reminder to me of the temporary status of my citizenship of this world and that the promises of what is to come is real.
Who knew that I could gain insight from the empty house across the street? Thank you God for the sweet lessons and gentle reminders in the smallest of things. . .
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