Tag Archive | time to weep

Awful August – except for …

Broken Glass grass and skyDoes it ever seem like your world is shattered? That life is suddenly broken? For some of my family members, that’s what August has been like this year.

I guess I would describe August 2014 along two tracks of events. One track is affecting my broadly extended family. The other track is affecting Mim and me mostly, and a few other unrelated people. I feel like I’ve been running as fast as I can along the “Mim and me track,” but the “broader family track” keeps pulling me over to slow down and cry with my family and wonder what’s happening in our world.

Sandy and Conrad looking out their kitchen window while hospice volunteers did spring yard work.

Sandy and Conrad looking out their kitchen window while hospice volunteers did spring yard work.

Perhaps I should begin by explaining who my “broadly extended family” includes. My brother, Danny, married his high school sweetheart, Sandy, shortly after they graduated from high school in the mid-1960s. They had two kids, Cindy and Kevin. As Danny and Sandy matured, they grew in different directions and divorced when their kids were still young. Danny and Sandy still stayed in contact over the years, primarily because of their kids. They both remarried twice, bringing more in-laws and nieces (no more nephews) into the family. We’re a big, complicated (but probably fairly typical) extended family. I think of Sandy as my first sister-in-law. She is still part of my “broadly extended family.” I knew Sandy in high school, even before she dated my brother. I’ve always liked and admired Sandy. She made me laugh a lot with her quick wit.

Sandy and Conrad holding handsSandy has been in declining health for the last few years, even though she’s only 67. Several months ago Kevin took the picture of his mother and her husband, Conrad, holding hands when she was in the hospital. Kevin had gone to visit her, and he found them both asleep but still comforting each other.

A few days later she was released from the hospital, to go home on hospice. Conrad would take care of her at home.

On Monday evening, August 4, Conrad went to Subway to get sandwiches. He was killed in a car accident on his way home, on the street right in front of their home.

Sandy was devastated. She lost all will to live. She died 16 days later. Her funeral is today.

Kevin has three daughters and his sister Cindy has two sons – all who lost two very loving grandparents in August. It’s been a very sad month. We’re reminded of the observation in Ecclesiastes 3, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” But it’s really hard when two deaths – of people you love deeply – come so close together. Too much time to weep. Too much time to mourn. And no time to laugh and dance.

Farmhouse exterior - summerOn the “Mim and me track,” our farmhouse is moving quickly into its next phase. As you may recall, six years ago we turned the farmhouse into a bed-and-breakfast style spiritual retreat center. We named it Whispering Winds Retreat Haven. A year and a half ago we put Whispering Winds on hiatus and agreed to rent the farmhouse to a family who needed a place to live for a couple years. On August 3rd the renters moved out, five months earlier than planned. We were okay with that because the renters were able to buy a home of their own sooner than they expected, and we really wanted to spruce up the place and try to sell it.

A few days before the renters moved out, I received an email from someone (Jeff) who wanted to talk with me about collaborating on reopening the farmhouse as a retreat center. Eventually Jeff would like to buy the place, but for now he wanted to see if we could work together to reopen the farmhouse as a retreat center. We scheduled a time to get together at the farm and talk. That meant Mim and I had just over a week to “spruce” up the place before our meeting.

We quickly realized that we had a bigger clean-up job on our hands than we had anticipated, and we would need help. Amazingly, within that one week in early August, we had two women from a cleaning service deep-clean the five bathrooms and the kitchen; five men from a landscaping service spend a full day weeding, pruning, and removing three truckloads of brush from the yard; another handyman mow our 3-acre lawn and spread 8 more yards of mulch (he had spread 10 yards earlier in the season); our HVAC service man clean the furnace and repair the central AC; and a friend help us carry a dozen heavy boxes of dishes, glasses, flatware, and other furnishings up from the basement. With all that help, the house was presentable for our meeting with Jeff to explore the possibility of collaborating on a retreat center.

The next week, we had a friend paint walls and ceilings as needed throughout the house, reinstall parts of the kitchen cabinets, and replace the garbage disposal and faucet in the kitchen sink. Mim and I worked, too – mostly moving around furnishings to make the house look like a B&B retreat center again. It was an amazing transformation! Oh, and we also bought a new range to replace the one that had been accidentally damaged beyond repair by trying to clean the self-cleaning ovens with a spray-on oven cleaner. (Caution: Don’t ever do that!)

We were amazed. With the help of half a dozen friends and half a dozen strangers, our farmhouse was completely transformed within a couple weeks – all within the same timeframe between Conrad’s death and Sandy’s death.

Stone Meadows Condominiums

Stone Meadows Condominiums

The day after our meeting with the retreat guy (which had been a great time for sharing ideas, but probably not the beginning of a retreat collaboration), our realtor showed the house to a prospective buyer. Thanks to all the help we had received over the past week the house and 3-acre lawn were completely ready for showing!

But then everything changed. Our friend Sharon, who was renting one of the condos in the duplex next door to ours, was told that her condo had been sold and she would need to move out within a month or so. Sharon is the friend who had welcomed “Mary,” one of the 93-year-olds we care for, as a short-term roommate because we didn’t have room for her in our condo.

So… that’s what the next phase is going to be in the life of our farmhouse… Sharon and “Mary” are going to move into the farmhouse next month. Sharon may also invite her 90-year-old parents to join her for the winter months. We’ve talked with our real estate agent and have decided to take the farmhouse off the market. It seems pretty obvious that this is where Sharon and “Mary” need to be for the next several months.

That’s August 2014. Track one is filled with sadness. Track two is filled with fast-paced problem-solving and lots of hard work. Between the two tracks, we’ve been able to deeply sense God’s presence, God’s comforting love. I guess that’s why I played “God Will Take Care of You” for the prelude last Sunday in church. The awful August of 2014 demonstrates this truth. We’re not in this world alone. God is with us, as are the friends and family God has sent to comfort us, as well as the kind strangers God has ready to help us with our various challenges.

Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you;
Beneath God’s wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

Refrain:
God will take care of you, Thru ev’ry day, O’er all the way;
God will take care of you, God will take care of you.

Thru days of toil when heart grows frail, God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you.

All you may need God will provide, God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon God’s breast, God will take care of you.

[Civilla D. Martin, 1904]

Gods presence butterfly

“A Season for Every Activity under Heaven”

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven….
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…. 
[Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4]

Two friends of mine died last week. One was a high school classmate. Nicki had a very bubbly personality – she was always happy and a fun person to be around, until the last few years. Unfortunately she suffered a long, steady decline from early onset Alzheimer ’s disease. My other friend had been our next door neighbor in Chicago for 13 years. Elaine was also a kind, happy person – always a joy to be around. She was older and her health had been deteriorating over the past few years. She was almost 90 when she died. Both friends have now completed their time of suffering.

As it says in the Bible, life provides ”a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” For me, last week was a time to mourn the deaths of my friends. Now it’s time to move ahead to some happier times. The village of Cambridge is here to help with that by hosting a “Frosty Frolic.”

Cambridge is a nice little town. Some of the businesses decided we needed a special celebration to help us enjoy winter more, so they came up with the idea for a “Frosty Frolic” for this weekend. My brother, Dan Korth, is participating in the celebration by hosting an open house in The Carpentry Shop as well as in his home. He’s inviting people to stop in to look at a fancy bar he’s building in his own family room. The bar is an ornate 1890’s era supper club style bar. I always enjoy looking at his projects. He’s come a long way from his first carpentry project.

Dan's first house

When Dan was a little boy, he knew exactly what he wanted to do when he got big – build things. He built his first house when he was seven. I helped him. That’s the two of us in the picture, hard at work.

Dan got quite a bit fancier in his buildings over the years. He built lots of houses in and around Cambridge. He also became intrigued by the challenges of remodeling commercial buildings. One of his more unusual projects was gutting the old Chevrolet garage on Main Street – that had originally been built as a wagon factory – and rebuilding it as retail space, a collection of eight Victorian-style shops. The building currently is the Rowe Pottery store. Another interesting project was across the street. He remodeled the old feed mill into a rustic restaurant.

Remodeled Farmhouse

One of his best projects was remodeling the farmhouse we grew up in, what is now Whispering Winds Retreat Haven. His starting point was a modest 1500 square foot two-story house with three bedrooms and one bathroom. He doubled its size, turning it into a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house with a fancy front porch. (His son – carpentry runs in the family – later added another bedroom and 2 more bathrooms.) The remodeled farmhouse has been quite versatile. The house has served as a bed and breakfast, an adult family home, and now as Whispering Winds Retreat Haven.

Dan has always said that he loves what he does for a living. He can’t imagine retiring. He’s having too much fun. He no longer builds houses. He just does the really fun stuff now – building custom cabinets and furniture.

Dan Korth in The Carpentry Shop

The Carpentry Shop, located right next to his house, is where he does all his work. He has a showroom filled with a variety of furniture and cabinets:

  • mission style chairs
  • end tables
  • book cases
  • a fireplace mantle
  • a wine cabinet
  • kitchen cabinets
  • a kitchen island on casters
  • an umbrella stand
  • and whatever else he feels like building.

Customers can buy furniture off the floor, or they can brainstorm ideas with Dan and have him build a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture or cabinetry that’s perfect for their needs.

The Carpentry Shop Helpers with Dan

If you can’t make it to Cambridge this Saturday, you may want to go to the FaceBook page for “The Carpentry Shop” and look at some pictures of his shop, his furniture, and his helpers.

(Note: It takes three shop dogs – Piper, Holly, and Sadie – to replace me as his helper.)

If you can make it to Cambridge, the town will do everything it can to be sure you have a great “frosty frolic” while you’re here. It may help you remember that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Here are some of the special things you can do in (or near) Cambridge on Saturday afternoon this week:

  • Jump into Lake Ripley through a big hole cut into the ice as part of the “Dip for Dozer” fundraising event.
  • Watch the big ice chunks from the hole be transformed into beautiful ice sculptures with the help of a chain saw under the guidance of Jim Murray.
  • Enjoy a free wine and chocolate tasting at Katy’s Corner on Main Street in Cambridge.
  • Shop the sales in the specialty shops for which Cambridge is so well known.
  • Tour the studios and workshops of local artists and craftsmen, including a potter (Mark Skudlarek), a recycle artist (Simone Mausser), and, of course, a furniture and cabinet maker (Dan Korth).

More details about all of the special activities happening at Cambridge’s Frosty Frolic can be found at  http://www.visitcambridgewi.com/events.htm#Frosty%20Frolic.

Whispering Winds still has rooms available for the weekend. If you can stay two nights, you can have the second night free. Call 608-212-6197 for details.

It’s time to enjoy the season of winter – before it’s gone!