Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Sunday, July 10, 2016

When I'm gone, long gone

   I am feeling nostalgic.....probably more so than I have ever felt. This week-end, I visited my home town, New Bethlehem, PA. It is around 120 miles from where I currently live in Ohio. I lived there for approximately half of my life, and had not been there for 17 years.

  My parents and I had driven in to visit some family at a family gathering. Two of my mom's cousins that she and I had gotten to know through Facebook was going and wanted to meet us, so we decided to make the 2 hour or so trip.

 There weren't a lot of people there, and I didn't even know some of them. As we ate and visited, names came up who are no longer with us. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and others who have gone from this earth and are now just a memory.

 With a 2 hour drive ahead of us, we left after about 2 1/2 hours of visiting. As we headed out of the park we had met at, I asked my dad if we could swing by a place we had lived at that was close by - almost within walking distance. So he made a left, drove up the road about 1/2 a mile, and turned onto the street we had lived on. There sat the house that is the first place I can remember living at. It had changed a lot. Instead of the ugly shingle-like exterior, it was now brown siding and had been added onto. As we looked at the house, some memories came to my mind of this house we had lived in from when I was very small to when I was around 10 years of age. After chatting with the son and daughter-in-law of the people we had rented from who lived next door, we went on our way.

  As we headed out of New Bethlehem, we drove on South Broad Street and passed another place we had lived. This house holds a special place in my life. In January of 1981, our house burnt to the ground and we lost everything we owned except for two cars and the clothes on our backs. We lived with my grandma Buzard until August of that year. We finally had gathered enough things to have our own place again, and this house on South Broad Street in New Bethlehem, PA was the place where we started to rebuild our lives again.

                                            South Broad Street residence, 1981-1983 (approx)

  My mom said she wouldn't mind seeing another place we had lived that we were going near -  as we went home a different way that we had come. So we drove a couple of miles out of our way to a sad sight. We already knew the house had been torn down since my parents had vacated it 20 years ago, but as I stood there and looked at just an empty space where the house used to stand, I felt memories sweep through me and a sadness that a place so full of memories was gone. I couldn't even tell where the house had stood for sure.

              Vacant lot where the house stood we lived in for several years before moving to Ohio

                                                          1985 - 1996 (approx)

  After snapping a few pictures to show my sister, I got back in the car and we headed back out the road we had come down. As we reached the end of the road, my dad decided to drive by one more house we had lived in -  the one before the residence we had just left. This place had changed also. It was sided and had a different kind of window. We turned around and headed out, passing by the empty house 4 houses up and across the street that my mom's aunt and uncle had lived in.....many were the times we could see them watching us through binoculars as we were out in the yard of the house we had lived in.

                                              Kellersburg residence, 1983 - 1985 (aprox)

  That all seems so long ago. Those 3 houses and that one vacant lot hold so many memories, and yet it doesn't seem all that long ago. I have changed a lot in those years and in those houses. I am a lot different than I was from that first house that I can remember living in.

 This visit, the talk of those who are gone from us, seeing 4 places where I lived as a kid......it has made me realize how fast life goes by. The Bible says this life is like a vapor. We are here for such a short time, and then we are gone. Our names are put on a stone with our beginning and ending date, with a small dash to represent the time in between those years.

  I've been wondering what will people say about me when I am gone. What will I be remembered as and for?

Will people remember how opinionated I am? Or will they remember my sense of humor and how much I love to tell jokes?

Will people remember the times I tried too hard to get my point across, or will they remember my love of books and reading?

Will I be remembered as a guy who loved his nieces and nephews and tried to be the best uncle I could be?

How many people will truly say they knew me - the real me - when I am gone?

How many people will truly care when I am gone and will miss me?

  Sobering thoughts for this fun-loving guy. As I think on these things, a song comes to mind that I ran across lately that may have started this thinking. It is a country song, but has a great message, and one I want to live up to.

When We're Gone, Long Gone

Trouble, we have known trouble
In our struggle just to get by
Many times the burden's been heavy
Still we carried on side by side

And when we're gone, long gone
The only thing that will have mattered
Is the love that we shared
And the way that we cared
When we're gone, long gone

And when we're walking together in glory
Hand in hand through eternity
It's the love that will be remembered
Not wealth, not poverty

And when we're gone, long gone
The only thing that will have mattered
Is the love that we've shared
And the way that we cared
When we're gone, long gone

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