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A Time for Everything

August 16, 2010


My dad unscrewed the gas cap. He turned to remove the nozzle. He lost his balance and started to fall.  Dad broke his hip trying to pump gasoline into his car. Almost ninety years old, he insists on maintaining as much independence as possible. 

“They don’t make cars like they used to,” he explained. “Old cars had handles and running boards. These new cars don’t have anything to grab hold of.”

“Where was your cane?” I asked.  

“I saw it in the rear window of the car just before I hit the pavement.” 

Dad felt silly about breaking his hip. Fortunately there were good friends nearby who called the ambulance.

Dad had surgery and the fractured hip was pinned with a metal rod. After several days, he entered the skilled nursing unit at Summit Hills.  Rehab has gone well, especially after the physical therapist had a stern word with him. One reason Dad is almost ninety is because he has a lot of spunk.

Even before the accident at the gas pump occurred, Dad and Ruth had been trying to sell the house. It has been on Multiple Listings. It’s a difficult time to sell a home. They had previously talked about moving permanently to Summit Hills, someday.  After Dad’s fall, they decided the time was right. 

Saturday a van transferred furniture into their new apartment.  The next day I called Dad to check on him.  He was in his new apartment with his wife, Ruth.  He still has two weeks of rehab to complete. He has moved out of the house he lived in for nearly forty years.  There is a lot of history in that house. Many cherished memories are imbedded in the walls.  Moving out is quite a change. 

The loss of a place can be a significant grief.  I expected that my dad might be downcast about his move. 

Instead he said, “Kirk, there is a season for everything.  This was the right time for us to make the move.”

Dad was referring to a scripture from Ecclesiastes.

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven.

a time to be born and a time to die,…

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them together, …

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

These dichotomies are ordinary events in life.  Some of them are to be expected, others are crisis points. There is a flow, a mingling of joy and sadness, in these common life experiences.

When Dad was three years old, in 1923, my grandfather started Neely Lumber Company. Pappy, as I called my grandfather, lost the business and his home in The Great Depression. In 1937, he bought a tract of land on Union Road. On one end he built a lumber shed. On the other he built a home, the same house Clare and I have lived in since 1980.

Last fall, after eighty-six years in business, the lumberyard closed its doors. Dad owned and operated the lumberyard from 1962 until 2000. Last Saturday, on the same day Dad and Ruth moved to Summit Hills, trucks lined up on both sides of Union Road. At a total auction almost the entire inventory was dispersed. People came from four or five states to buy the building supplies that they were no longer buying so readily when the retail business was still open.

I asked my brother Bob, the final owner of the business, “What was the auction like?” 

“The vultures were there,” he said.  “They basically came to pick the bones. But there were others, too. So many people who had been customers through the years came by and said, ‘Bob, I just wanted to drop in and tell you I am thinking about you.’”

I have many memories connected with the lumberyard. As a little boy, I got splinters playing on the lumber stacks.  I remember most fondly all the people – customers, workers, and, of course, my family members, my dad, my granddad, my uncles.   

On that yard I learned to drive an old 1950 Chevrolet.  I ran it into a few buildings.  It had a straight transmission. It took me forever to learn how to use the clutch.  I learned to drive lumber trucks around that yard. It was a good place to grow up.  

There is a bittersweetness about this.  Since 1923, there has been a Neely Lumber Company. Now my nephew Kam continues the tradition with Neely’s Windows, Doors, and More.   

The old lumberyard has been a dear place for a lot of us.  All of my uncles had a part in it.  They all derived benefit from it.  My brother Bob has been able to support and provide for his family through that business.

Dad said, “There is a time for everything.  This was the right time to close the lumberyard.”

When the familiar structures of our lives change, we might despair. Homes and lumberyards will all pass away. But the love and the strength of family and faith sustain us.

There is a time for everything!  Faith and family are always in season.

Kirk H. Neely
© August 2010

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