I've been waiting to hear back from him - the man who said these words. Many times during the last weeks, I have thought about what he said on that day. I don't even know his name, but he has changed my life.
A couple of weeks ago, a white car pulled into our driveway. We don't have a lot of guests, so I wondered who it could be. Most of our friends drive suburbans or bigger vehicles. As I ran around trying to find my shoes, I wondered what they would need, and if I would possibly have enough time to help them and yet find my house in order when I returned. "Please don't need a long conversation." I thought. Nine children left to themselves gets chaotic in minutes. Taking them outside on this cold morning would require bundling them up and I just wanted to get out there and get this taken care of.
As I walked out, he got out of his car. I could see someone in the front seat - his wife, no probably his mother. She didn't look up as I approached the car and asked if there was anything I could do for them. He asked if we owned the sawmill that sat over near the barn, and if we do much sawing with it. I told him it was ours, that we hadn't had it for long and so weren't super experienced with it. We talked for awhile about prices to cut up logs etc., and I confessed I knew little about my husband's prices as he didn't use it much in his business.
Then he started explaining his interest in the sawmill. "My wife" he pointed in the direction of the car, "has Alzheimer's. It's getting so bad it takes me an hour just to feed her one meal. I need to sell my land and farm as I can't do it anymore." My heart broke as he shared his situation. His kids lived too far away to help him farm and now, before he would normally have retired, he was selling out. He shared his desire to cut down some of the trees he'd been nurturing and then have them sawn into boards so he could at least have a piece of his land to take with him. I gave him my husband's phone number and urged him to call.
He turned to go and then stopped and came back. "When Alzheimers takes one, it always takes two." I didn't understand what he was talking about. He continued, "You never think about those meaningless conversations before bed, or the chitchat around the table, until it's gone. Treasure those moments. Don't forget what it means to have a strong partner by your side. To a farmer it means knowing she's at home and ready to drive truck when I need her, or just bring a meal out to the field so I don't have to go in. Now, it takes a long time just to do anything even as simple as eating a meal. Don't forget, o.k.?" As he got ready to leave, I shared with him about my dad and how he would understand, how my mom declined slowly. He lost her as a spouse, as a friend and finally she depended on him full 24 hours a day until she went home to be with the Lord. I've seen it, but not experienced it fully.
So, as I went to help my man cut down two pine trees in a lady's yard, I thought about his words. As I prepared his lunch to take to work, I pondered what he had shared. When I sent my boys out to help their dad, I thought more about this. I want to be that strong partner and to treasure the moments I have to share the load with my husband. My tendency some days is to complain. I'd rather be sitting at home with my feet up. But this man's words remind me each day to live it up, enjoy what I've been given, because all too soon this season in my life will be over. Despite the hard days, there will be things I will miss about this season.
He called the other day. I was surprised, it had been a couple of weeks. I went out to see him when he was bringing the logs over. "Bet you didn't think you'd ever hear from me." He said.
"I'm so glad you called." I said "I wanted to tell you that I haven't forgotten your words. I'm so glad for this opportunity to serve you. I remembered your words when I was out helping my husband cut down trees and through all the mundane jobs we do together around here."
He smiled, a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, a smile that showed the fatigue and the pain of watching the one you love slowly fade away. "I'm glad. Never forget. Treasure the moments."