Pondering Legacy: My Neighbor’s Final Years

Pondering Legacy: My Neighbor’s Final Years

by Bill High

Have you ever wondered about the legacy of your neighbor? I watched one of my neighbors during his final years in the house down the street from us.

He and his wife moved into the neighborhood two or three years after we did. Theirs was the house on the corner.

They seemed full of excitement as they went to planting, landscaping, mowing, trimming, weeding—all with gusto. They seemed to live with a youthfulness that belied their graying hair.

We weren’t close. I confess we observed all this from a distance. Their house was a distance from ours, and we were busy raising four kids. Our relationship was more the passing wave on the way to soccer games, the nod of the head on a walk.

And because we were not close, we heard the difficult news from a neighbor. A 2 a.m. ambulance arrival was for his wife. She’d suffered a heart attack, and the ride was one-way.

His grieving was real, and the house seemed quieter. The Christmas lights still appeared on the peak of the roof and the yard still got mowed with the same precision.

But the flowers didn’t get planted anymore. That was her job. His hair seemed to gray all the more, and the energy that he once displayed—well, it ebbed.

We noticed a few more cars in the driveway—kids come to visit. I imagine some hard conversations and persuasion to get him to move to someplace easier to maintain.


Moving On, Moving Out

Then one day, it was one of those Saturday estate sales with a simple sign, “Everything must go!” Cars lined the street, and for a day the house was bustling again with the same energy as at the beginning.

But all the activity died down again by evening, and the house was eerily quiet and empty save for a living room light that still clung to hope. In the few days that followed, the now-empty house held workers busy cleaning, painting and repairing things. The “For Sale” sign appeared in the yard a few days later.

He must have priced it well because the “For Sale” sign soon had a “Pending” sign above it.

Sadly, it seemed to me that description—“pending”—seemed oddly appropriate for one’s final years.

Indeed, I thought of Shakespeare’s oft-quoted line on the brevity of life: “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow….”

Most all of us will end up with estate sales in which everything must go. The wise ones prepare for homes not built in this life but the one to come.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)



Photo by Alvin Engler on Unsplash

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Published August 21, 2019

Topics: Lessons with Bill

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