My Father’s House

I joked with the Lovely Lady as I headed for my office tonight.

“I’m not sure there are any words left in me, but the morning light will tell the tale.”

“Ha!”  The humorless laugh burst from her lips.  “You said that awhile back, and I’ve had to proof thousands of your words since then.”

She has a point.  Only days ago, I felt the well was bone dry, and my efforts at pumping the handle utterly futile.  I had said all I had to say, shared all the wisdom I have gathered over my lifetime.  Hopelessly, I gave the handle one more push.  One final, desperate attempt.  I don’t know from whence the words came (I never have anyway), but suddenly they gushed out.  Like water on the parched earth, they washed away the dust and debris, leaving fertile ground in their tracks.  

For awhile.  You may have read some of them.  They may even have made sense to you.  

I hope you enjoyed the experience.

The well has dried up again.  Or, so it seems to me.

I remember when all I had to do was to walk up to the warehouse where the nouns, the adjectives, the adverbs, and the verbs were stored, and yell at the building. Immediately, they all piled out the door in a long conga-line of letters and punctuation, ready to swing into action.  I could always find a few conjunctions to hold them all together, as well.

Tonight, I stood outside and yelled, but nothing stirred.  Then, like the police SWAT team, I even walked through the building clearing each room, but only turned up two or three words in my search.  They’re lined up outside now, after I ordered them out of the building.

I wonder if they’ll be any help to me.  I’ll hit them with the spotlight just in case.

father. house.  

That’s it?  No wait.  There’s something hiding behind the first one.  Yes, I see it.  An apostrophe and the letter s.  

Father’s house?  Oh.  I know what this is about.  I don’t want you guys.  You can go.

What’s that?  You want to know what it’s about?  

I warn you.  It won’t be pretty.  They’re only a couple of scrawny little words right now, but as soon as I use them, they’re going to be joined by a lot of other words you don’t want to hear—words like memories, the past, sadness, moving on, maybe even death.  

I’ll tell it, but it won’t be a pretty picture, I can assure you.  I know I don’t want to see it.  In fact, that’s the reason the words were hiding.  I stashed them there in the dark myself and told them to stay out of my sight.

I was going to say the story started just a few days ago, but suddenly I am aware that it really began over fifty years in the past. 

HomeThat’s when we moved into that home.  Seven of us moved in, fresh from a tiny mobile home on the two-acre lot across the street.  Seven.  We thought the place was a mansion.  Well?  After cramming seven people in that little two bedroom trailer, it was a mansion.

Fifty-two years of living, loving, arguing, yelling, crying, singing, eating, playing, talking, listening, sewing, writing, hair-cutting, nursing, reading, sleeping, cleaning fish, plucking chickens, and—well, you get the idea.  

It all happened there, and a lot more.  A lot more. Cousins came to visit, along with grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, preachers, missionaries, and tattooed men riding motorcycles.

Mostly, it was the seven of us.  Making memories to last a lifetime, some warm and fuzzy, some not so nice.  We’ve all got the good with the bad.  For many of us, time rubs the rough edges off and the good memories shine brightly, while the bad ones fade into the background.  

And, what’s so bad about all that, one might ask?  I told you it wouldn’t be pretty, didn’t I?

The not pretty thing is that it’s all coming to an end.  I mentioned the story begins a few days ago.  That’s when the letter arrived.

The place is going to be sold.  It sounded so calm and businesslike.  Clean.  Painless.  My intellect agrees.  I told the man so.  

“It’s a great idea, Dad.  You should have done it years ago.”

My intellect doesn’t rule my heart.  My heart wants to know how you sell your memories.  My heart wonders if perhaps it would be less painless to cut off a hand.

I sit and look over all the words which have trooped out to join the original two and the truth dawns.

I haven’t set foot on that property for nearly ten years.  Except for sporadic periods of time, no one has lived in it for nearly twenty years.  Yet somehow, my memories of my time there are still intact and clear as they ever were.  The loving feelings for my parents and siblings, nurtured and tended to there in that two-story residence, remain to this day.

The old ramshackle frame building is in need of someone else to inhabit it.  Perhaps it will, one day soon, be home to another young family who will abuse and test its structural limitations, much like the Phillips brats did.  

It’s time.  Still, the act of selling it is so final.  We can never go back.  Never.

Except in our memories.

It’s time.

Those two words are still slouching against the warehouse, though.  They haven’t been used yet.  Perhaps, I can put them back away for another day.  But then again, maybe not.

Father’s house.  

Funny.  The words never described the building I’ve been writing of.  That was my family’s residence.  Sure, it was a home, as far as homes go here.  It was a great place to live and love and share.

It was always temporary.  

You see, my mom has already moved on to the Father’s house.  My dad is recognizing that it won’t be many years and he’ll be changing his address permanently, as well.  Going to his Father’s house.

My intellect knows that it is a better residence than what they’ve had here.  Absent from the body.  Present with the Lord.  (2 Cor 5:8)

My head knows this.  

Still, my heart aches to think of it.  It is so for all of us.  

And again, I look at those words and contemplate others I also believe, and I know the memories will have to do.

For now.

We’re all just here temporarily—pilgrims—nomads—headed for our Father’s house.

We're all just here temporarily—pilgrims—nomads—headed for our Father's house. Click To Tweet

It’s not for sale.  

But there are mansions to live in there.

My Father’s house.

Good words.




There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you.
(John 14:12 ~ NET)


Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
(Oliver Wendell Homes, Sr. ~ American physician/poet ~ 1809-1894)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

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