When do we let go? Sooner than we have to? Sooner than we want to? In 2012, a son of a special longtime friend made a trip from Clovis to Pagosa to tell us some strong, important words.
He said, “I’m going to tell you like I told my folks. I sat them down and said, ‘While you have each other, make those important decisions. Don’t wait until one of you is gone.’”
Those words were full of spirit and truth, and we knew that message came from God. Al and I decided to sell one of our houses and the property with it. We had hung onto that land for 45 years and had refused to let go of it. But the message was loud and clear: “Make the decision while you have each other.”
We were in our 70s and getting older. Al could not keep up with all the work involved with two properties. Every day he said, “I can’t keep up with everything.” On the financial side, we were overwhelmed with property taxes, homeowners’ insurance and utilities for two houses.
Our children either owned their own homes, they didn’t live here or they weren’t interested in all the upkeep and work to keep another house in good shape.
For one year, we talked about which house to sell. Could we give up the home we raised our children in, with memories that reached back to 1976? We would be sacrificing the 3,600-square-foot house, with my painted murals on every wall and door, five bedrooms, a 900-square-foot art studio and Al’s 900-square-foot hunting room.
The other house is 2,200 square feet, one bedroom, built in 2005 with modern appliances, fireplace in the bathroom and with little maintenance. We knew this was the best choice for us to keep.
In 2014 we sold the big round house, which I used for my gallery and art studio. Over the next nine years, we looked at our old house next door, the one we loved, the one on the Home and Garden Tour for two years, the one our family lived in, laughed and entertained guests in. We were saddened by its deterioration.
The man who purchased the house only came to Pagosa a few times. The winter took a toll on the wood. Stairs were rotten, trellises halfway hanging. Summer brought thistles and overgrown weeds. Trees had fallen and nothing had been done to maintain the house or the property.
At times we wondered why we sold it, but then we went back to the original words that we knew were from God: “Make the decision while you have each other.” Because of the upswing in property value, did we let go too soon? No. We needed to act on the reality that we were getting older, there was too much to do and remember why we made the decision in the first place. We believed it was a message from God.
My Sweet Al would look out our window at the run-down house and say, “I need to go over and pick up the limbs and nail up those stairs; they are becoming dangerous.”
I would remind him, “Even though we loved the house and our history was there, It isn’t ours and it isn’t for us to maintain it.”
The house sold in 2022 and we have new neighbors. As I look out the window and see them working night and day, upgrading everything, ripping the porch and stairs to the ground, they are bringing this house we loved back into better condition than when we owned it.
Knowing the Lord’s words nine years ago were full of truth and life, and even not seeing the whole picture then, we know we made the right choice. Al propped up a chair in the yard and watches the neighbors work next door. He doesn’t have to do the work. Expenses for tractor and bulldozer, taking trailer loads of debris to the dump — our neighbor has invested in what we loved all those years.
Final brushstroke: Sometimes it’s just a knowing that you know. God sent a man with a message and asked us to be obedient to His word. As hard as it was to let go, we did. This was a moment God asked us to obey him. It was for our good. We let go, and thought it seemed too soon, it was right on time. He took the load off of us by a younger man who will love the house and hopefully have wonderful memories.
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