Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Harsh Realities - a bit of farm history

Usually, when buying a home, you never see or speak with the seller of the property until you meet at the closing table. Our experience in buying this farm was quite different from that, in that the man and woman who owned the property before us were in extremely poor health, and leaving was difficult for them. Each time we went up they were there, and over the course of the four or five visits we made to their home, we began to get to know them a little bit.

In the brief encounters we had the pleasure of sharing with them, it was evident that there never have been more wonderful people. They were kind and generous, gracious and hospitable, and their faith was so apparent in all they said and did. And I think that - knowing what truly good people they are - is the reason there is just a bit of bittersweet in this purchase we've made.

These aren't just "the people that owned the property before us." They're the ones that dreamed it, the ones that built it into what it is. Every nook and cranny of every building, every fence post, every little detail is the work of their own creativity and their own hands.

Eleven years ago, they moved to our beautiful side of the mountains and began seeking the "perfect property". It was his wife that set her mind on it, and she knew exactly what she was doing. I'm not sure any piece of property could be more perfect when one is seeking to live this kind of life. From there, they designed the home together, and lived in the guest house on the property so that they could oversee every aspect of the building of the main home. It was built exactly to their specifications. They had worked hard all their lives, lived frugally and raised their children, and came to Colorado to build their dream - and that's exactly what this is. It may be our "dream come true", but it was theirs first. And in talking with him, it's easy to see what brought them so far. Certainly a great deal of wisdom, a willingness to work hard and a willingness to learn; but above that, it's their unconditional love for one another and their immense, unfaltering faith.

Throughout our visits with him, he shared stories with us that really brought us to understand the heart of this place. He talked about how he and his wife would haul downed cedar trees from the hill together, dig the holes and use them as the fence posts. He told us how he dragged a toboggan across the snowy hay meadow when a calf was born early, and his wife would ride on the toboggan holding the calf while he dragged them up to the barn, where they would care tenderly for the calf, wiping it down and warming it up - only for three days, mind you, or it would get too warm and would catch cold.

And as we were leaving the closing table yesterday, he told us how he carried a wooden picnic table up to the top of the hill on his back, setting it just so, where his wife could sit at it and look out and see all the land around her. Up there at the top of the hill, she arranged rocks and stones in such a way as to create her own perfect space, where she then went for her Bible studies. That table, he told us, is still up there. In his condition now, he can no longer carry it back down.

In fact, he can no longer lift more than five pounds.

I can imagine them, eleven years ago, working side by side at really hard work, successfully running this small ranch and enjoying this dream life they'd waited so long to create. But it didn't last nearly long enough. He now suffers from advanced kidney failure, and she has a disease similar to Alzheimer's. He can't do any hard work at all anymore, and it would appear that she doesn't quite remember how. And I can't tell you how much it hurts my heart to see it.

They didn't want to have to sell this place. In fact, he told us yesterday after the papers were signed, "We sure hate to let this place go." They'd built it with the intention of living out their lives there, I'm sure. But things don't always go as planned, and they needed to be closer to medical services and closer to help as her condition progresses. And just when their health begins to fail, the housing market plummets, and what was once their million-dollar dream property was now worth only a fraction of that. The price we got it for makes me feel like we're practically stealing from them. What really, really just gets to me is that they don't deserve this. Not that anyone deserves this. But these two, they aren't like most folks. They're extraordinary, it's plain to see. And this isn't the kind of situation they should have ended up in. They should have had so many more years to enjoy this dream they worked so hard and for so long to achieve.

So you see, this isn't just "a farm". It's not just a great piece of property. It's so much more than that, and hearing those stories he told us was such a blessing. It makes me see the whole place in such a different way than if it was just an empty house waiting to be sold. Knowing all this history, hearing it firsthand from the man who lived it, adds such a huge feeling of added responsibility to this undertaking of ours. We have some really big shoes to fill.

On our way out of the office yesterday, he gave us what I think is probably the wisest piece of advice any elderly couple could ever give to a younger couple. He shook our hands, told us it's a lot of hard work, and then he told us, "And make sure you work together."

I know some of my readers are praying folks, and I ask those of you that are - please pray for these two sweet, amazing people. They'll be leaving Colorado next week to start a new chapter of their lives in Nebraska, near family, and I can't even imagine the heartache as they leave this home behind. What a struggle it will be for his wife, as she tries to understand all of these changes that are happening. Pray for their peace, and well being, their continued love and their continued faith. I know they'll appreciate it.

Their story has affected me deeply, and I wish I had the opportunity to tell them. But since I can't, thanks for letting me share it with all of you.


Mama Kautz said... first thoughts:
Our plan isn't always His...AND His plan is you are the PERFECT couple to pick up where the other couple left off. I am so excited for you I could heart aches for the couple moving to Nebraska...I will pray for you all in this new season of life you each with be taking on.

Mama Kautz said...

You are the PERFECT couple to take over where the other couple left off. I will pray for ALL of you entering new seasons of life. I am so excited for you I could BURST!!

kelli said...

A lovely tribute. Seems like it was meant to be. Enjoy your dream come true!!

bammajan10 said...

Oh my goodness, I'm all verklempt. What a beautiful, yet sad, story. And how smart is God, making sure that the perfect family moves in to take care of such a special place?
Thank you for sharing this, Julie.

Stephanie Ivy said...

Oh my goodness. That brought tears to my eyes. I'm just a random reader (waves hello) but I will keep this lovely couple in my prayers, that they may find ease in transition and unexpected blessings in the next phase of their life together.

Wendy said...

oh, this made me well up. I can see how it must have been a very bittersweet moment. I'm sure it's great solace to them that your family will be taking over. I'm sure they see the dream in your young family that reminds them of where they began.

Anonymous said...

Might ask them if they'd like to check out homeopathic alumina for her; arnica for him.
Free online intro to homeopathy course here:

Beautiful bit of wisdom there, from a beautiful man :-) You & Andy will work *together* in everything you do-- not just now, but for the rest of your lives; whatever comes.