I feel like I’m stuck in sludge; thick and murky and slow moving. I am trying to settle into my life; trying to cut through grease to clear the way. But grease is slick and I find myself constantly slipping and sliding; picking myself up and looking for the path.
As I drove in to work I realized, in our fifteen years of marriage and 23 years of friendship, this is the longest we’ve ever lived in one place. We have never settled into a residence, ever. Though we have owned our home for almost 10 years we have not settled in it. We have actually lived in it for about six; two years when we first bought it, then, a military transfer for three years, and we returned in 2009.
I have always wanted to settle down; dig deep with roots. In childhood I was raised in the same home in a small town until I left at age 17 for college. I had no interest in traveling and liked the order and, somewhat boring, stability of routine. I now have the next 18-20 years of routine set before me and it is daunting. Is this what I decided I would settle for?
At the shop grease is everywhere. We are bolt manufacturers and grease and oil keeps our machines happy and working. It is our business’ life blood. This past weekend the older boys assisted in tuning up their Dad’s truck; the passing of knowledge and mechanics being shared with a few tugs of the wrench. Their hands were covered in grease and I had just cleaned the house. But I’ve come to realize that life is not always clear, pretty or tidy. Sometimes the antiseptic, anti-bacterial cleansers lead to bacterial resistance that only touch the surface. To have a smooth, well-run household or life, you need to lubricate the gears and joints with elbow grease and sweat. You have to dig in deep and commit to the task both physically and mentally.
For a long time I imagined my life full of beauty and simplicity; the path clear and unwavering. With time and effort that goal would be achieved. What I hadn’t counted on were the things I couldn’t control: where my heart took me, the adventures (and misadventures) that have brought me to the place I now stand. My 15 year plan had involved a career path that did not include a husband; nor kids. It centered on my desire to contribute to society; to make a difference. I had found my most perfect job utilizing my skills: my degree, my life experiences. When that yellow baby boy was placed in my arms, twelve-and-a-half years ago, and I had to leave him in the arms of a caregiver; I knew I would give it all up in a little baby’s heartbeat. And I did.
Other members of our family are unsettled. In twenty minutes our, dear, uncle Randy and aunt Les’ life went up in smoke. Both uncle Randy, as well as Dad (aka father-in-law), are new retirees and are just beginning to enjoy the golden years. After a lifetime of working hard, saving money and raising their families (kids and grandkids) they finally can settle into taking it easy. Recently, both brothers have found themselves in hospitals for various health issues and, last Sunday, uncle Randy’s historic, craftsman style home went up in smoke. Devastation cannot begin to describe what they came home to after running an errand at Home Depot. They had been working on their deck and have been replacing/upgrading various items in and around their home. This year it would have been 100 years old. Aunt Les, though devastated by the loss of all their material belongings, is heartbroken by the death of their beloved dog from smoke inhalation.
And so, the conference room at work smells like a fireplace. Salvaged amongst the smoldering items are pictures taken in 1848 of the immigration of the family patriarch and matriarch from Germany to America. It originated on the East coast, made its way to Kentucky and from there it came into uncle Randy’s possession. It now has changed hands, amongst brothers, and was decided to pass them down to the next generation that carries the family name; the hubs and our sons. Dad painstakingly scraped off over an inch of soot and ash and tried to salvage as much of the pictures as he could on the heirlooms which will soon reside above our own fireplace. Even with all the devastation the family ties that bind are as strong as steel. Uncle Randy has lived in this house for, approximately, 30 years. We can never establish residence; settle, in a place forever. The only place we can really, truly, feel at peace is if we place ourselves in God’s hands.
Cutting through the: ash, soot, dirt, grease…the human spirit will always push through this and seek, hope for a place to settle. A place of beauty and light. It is our struggle that makes us who we are; not the accolades or material possessions that proves my worth to the world. I must be grateful for each and every single day that I slip and slide through the murky sludge because it is a day I can choose to: live, to love and laugh with friends and family, to share my home and create adventures. And I pray I won’t lose my mind.