Birthing My Book: Bringing Delight in Disorder to Life

Having conceived and nurtured a memoir for almost a year, only to have it soundly rejected, it felt much like a miscarriage. I went a year without writing a word. It was only when I enrolled in an intensive discipleship training program that I again started to bring words to life, or, more accurately, let the Word come to life by cultivating the soil of stories.

Still, I wasn’t ready to come back to my memoir. It was too personal, too painful, too raw. Instead, I moved onto fiction – drafting a trilogy of short stories – “Life,” “Liberty,” and “The Pursuit of Happiness.”  More than the quality of the narrative (which is still quite unfinished), the discipline of daily writing as I created characters, developed dialogue, and polished plot, gave me increasing confidence that I had a “way with words.”

Then a very tragic thing happened. A young man I had never met committed suicide. He was playing family board games one minute and the next he was in his room shooting himself. The young man’s name was Matthew, son of Rick Warren renowned pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling Purpose-Driven Life.

My initial reaction was to take to my bed. I didn’t get up for three days. I read what people within the church and outside of it were saying. Some of it trying to be nice and compassion. Some of it downright ugly and mean. Nearly all of it lacking a clear Biblical understanding of mental illness that would drive a person to suicide.

I decided I needed to re-write my memoir. I also knew I couldn’t do it alone. I shared the idea with Leanne Sype, a blogging friend and editor, to whom I had pitched my trilogy. Very soon, she became as passionate about the project as I did. With Leanne’s help, I worked through a second draft, and a third (and in some cases fourth and fifth). With Leanne’s guidance, I pitched it to an agent and went to a writer’s conference to see about pursuing conventional publishing.

We prayed for a clear sign and got it almost immediately. A resounding no. Undeterred, Leanne encouraged me to pursue self-publishing, helped me navigate around some shark-invested waters of vanity publishers. She introduced me to graphic artist Nicole Miller who also has a heart for the Lord and a distinct eye for graphic design. Soon, we had a book cover. Nicole then moved on to a video for our indiegogo campaign where we exceeded our goal.

Along came another young faithful servant, Christina Tarabochia, who took the text and shaped it into various formats uploaded at Smashwords (and soon, for Amazon and Barnes & Noble). Christina helped explain some of the technical aspects of getting our book in the hands of the readers and has been an invaluable resource.

Now that we have a downloadable e-book (soon to be in print), we are only entering another season of the larger “Delight in Disorder” mission. Over the past few days I have been contacted mental health and church leaders from across the country to help us spread the word — to bridge the distance between faith and mental illness. I’ve already received two speaking invitations and am building some very fruitful relationships.

Much has been done — Facebook author page, Twitter account (indy_tony), media kit, business card design, e-mail and phone contact) and much remains to be done (website upgrade, speaking engagements, reviews). I have no idea where God will lead now that the book has been birthed. I only pray I’ll do my part to be a faithful stewardship of the Word calling me to share divine delight in the disorder of the world.

Write your favorite scripture on a canvas for your dorm room. It fills up wall space and it will be a good encouragement.

Birthing My Book: Cultivating the Soil

The years 2009-2011 are pretty much a blur for me. I was on a high dose of psychotropics. I was still recuperating from the effects of E.C.T.. I was dealing with deep depression due in large part to a lack of purpose since going on disability.

After my first attempt to write a spiritual memoir was rejected by publishers, I stuffed it in a dresser drawer and quit writing altogether. I tried some gardening, wheeling aging veterans to worship, painting dairy barns, cleaning furnaces — anything to be somewhat productive and stay out of the pit.

Nothing helped. At least not much. In December of 2010 I enrolled in a partial hospitalization treatment program and was introduced to a relatively new therapeutic approach that was proving successful among bipolar patients. It was called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

I was less than impressed.  I found DBT to be a rather basic blend of pop psychology and generic eastern philosophy.  While I benefited from the support of group therapy and met many compassionate caregivers, I left the program feeling it had fallen short, eager for something more in-depth and, if possible, rooted in my own Christian tradition.

Thanks to the advocacy of a family minister, we discovered a program called Shepherd’s Fold. Originally designed as a re-integration program for prisoners adjusting back to family life, it had become more a discipleship center where men could study deeply the Scriptures, receive Christian counsel, and develop work and personal habits that might carry over for them to become better husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers in Christ.

I enrolled at Shepherd’s Fold in September of 2011 and immediately began to adopt the schedule, the tasks, and habits they had carefully designed to promote spiritual well-being. While I struggled with the structure, and my pace at work and in chores was particularly slow, I found my overall mental health improved. Most importantly, I was able to read and reflect on God’s Word for hours each day.

I began to write again.  My letters home to my wife were often 30 pages and up (and sometimes I wrote 2 or 3 a week). I began a correspondence with a former colleague in ministry who sent me his sermons and I would respond with lengthy replies. In addition to daily journal entries from Scripture readings, I did a number of research papers on issues with which I had been dealing. After eight months in treatment, I was asked to write a “spiritual autobiography” and I filled over 125 hand-written pages. My writer’s voice was returning.

Sadly, my time at Shepherd’s Fold came to an end in August, 2012 as I left the program early.  God only knows the complete story of why it didn’t work out as we had hoped — to promote family reconciliation.  But it is clear that though the soil seemed barren, there was much cultivation.


Birthing My Book: From Conception to Miscarriage

Finger  Lakes Country. An hour or two from Rochester.

On June 13, 2009, I was driving along the scenic shores of the Finger Lakes region of New York wondering what I was going to do with my life.  I was 45.  I had spent most of the last two decades serving as a pastor while battling bipolar disorder. At my best, I had time and energy left to enjoy family life with my wonderful wife and four beautiful children.  At my worst, I either laid under the covers in a dark bedroom or frantically pursued plans ill-conceived and left undone.  I looked out the window and prayed for vision.

Suddenly, it came to me. I would write a book about bipolar and the faith that either fuels us to distraction or saves us from self-destruction.  In less than 20 miles, I conceived of a collection of devotions, inspired by the Psalms and a title — from Sheol to the Highest Heavens: 101 Devotions for Persons with Bipolar (and those who love them).  By the time I pulled into the driveway, I had most of the introduction in mind (which has remained largely the same), and some thoughts on one devotion (which is now the “Epilogue”).

Over the course of the next six months, I poured through the Psalms and wrote 1-3 devotions a day.  Some days as I felt like working more, I would re-write earlier devotions.  By early 2010, I had a manuscript I just knew would be embraced by countless publishers.  I bought a copy of the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, found 15 publishers I felt were appropriate and sent out quickly composed queries.

I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Out of the 15 queries I sent out, I received a total of one response – a two sentence form e-mail.

It was as if I had a miscarriage.

I stuffed the manuscript in my chest-of-drawers under a pile of junk mail, unfolded underwear and mis-matched socks.

I didn’t write another word for over a year.

The Bible says, “Without vision, people perish.”  I was dying on the vine.  My mind was consumed with grief which actually felt a lot like nothingness.  Each day, I sat in my recliner and stared at the ceiling.  At night, I slept fitfully, listening to BBC radio through my pillow speaker — a reminder at least that life went on — somewhere.

Meanwhile, my wife was fed up.  Understandably.  Here we were, living on a fruitful homestead, financially secure, with four adorable children and nothing to do but delight in the Lord and love one another.  What was wrong with me?

I tried many things – counseling, gardening, volunteering, working with men from the church.  Something was still not right.  We searched our minds for an answer. Was I over-medicated? Did my overdose damage my brain? Or the E.C.T.? Was it my illness? Or just me?

Only God knew.  And for some reason, God was not giving us the answer.

(image above from Jenny Russo)

Was He Only Dreaming?: Hoosier Perspectives on Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the fall of 1975, I opened my fresh new Language Arts textbook and found that some pages had been cut out.  I walked up to my teacher’s desk and his response was,

 ”I did that.  It was a story about Martin Luther King.  I don’t want you reading about some nigger who went around stirring up trouble.”

Yesterday, I was talking with an elderly woman who didn’t realize today was a holiday.

“What holiday is it?”

“Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday,” I replied.

“I swear.  What do you have to do to get a day named after you?  He didn’t do nothing.”

This morning, I was talking to a man in his 70s about King’s legacy.

“I know he preached non-violence,” he said, “but as soon as he’d finish his speeches, blacks would go around breaking into stores and stealing stuff.  I don’t care what the history books say.  I saw it on TV.”

While King is celebrated as a saint by nearly all African Americans and a vast majority of white Americans as well, there is still a pervasive racial attitude among some – perhaps those who find themselves on the wrong side of history – that King was anything but heroic.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”   ―  Martin Luther King Jr.

day 154  Martin Luther King jr. Day by ms.Tea

 from ms.Tea, some rights reserved

{I first posted this on MLK day last year and received a tremendous response. This year, I will be sharing it with my reading and writing classes as I also feature King’s classic book Strength to Love.}

Finding Life (in obvious places): Moving Day

Moving day today. Big day. I picked Julie up with the car loaded down with my three boxes and assorted other things. She came running out to meet.

“You all ready?”

“I think so.”

She looked through the back window. “Is that all?”

“Yeah. Isn’t it enough?”

“I guess so. Well, you want to come in, say hi to Mom and Dad?”

“Not really. I want to get moving, you know.”

“Okay, but give me a second, alright?”

She ran back into the house and I shut the engine off. I looked back at my stuff and thought about her parents. How they were so proud of her and nice to me and such the perfect couple themselves. Her dad smoking a pipe and wearing slippers around the house and her mom fixing big meals and not eating anything herself. The perfect couple. I never saw anything else.

Once we made it to the house, it only took an hour or so to move all my stuff in. Still, I was tired and sat down on the floor, waiting for Julie to finish arranging.

“When are you getting furniture?”

“Soon, I guess. Probably go to auctions and stuff.”

“Be sure to get a love seat. It would go perfect next to that window, facing the television.”

“What television?”

“You are going to get a television, aren’t you?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter. Now, curtains…”

“Why don’t you take a break?”


“Well, why don’t you join me?” I must have had some grin on my face, cause she came over smiling, trying to look all sexy.

“What did you have in mind?” she asked, brushing against my shoulder.

“Why don’t you lay down with me?”

“On the floor?”

“Would you rather go out in the yard?”

She laughed and started unbuttoning her blouse.

Then there was silence. A lot of it. Well, almost silence. No words. I don’t know.

+     +     +

She got up and put her blouse back on, and the rest of her clothes. I stayed there, looking at the ceiling and over at her.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting dressed.”


“Someone may stop by.”

“Who’s going to stop by?”

“You never know.”

“Come on, Julie.”


“Come back here.”

“I will. Just give me a minute. Patience is a virtue, you know.”

“I’m not very virtuous.”

She went to the bathroom and brushed her hair. I lay there, looking at the ceiling. She came back with a big grin on her face.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.


“Why are you smiling?”

“I’m just happy.” She lightly kissed me on the cheek.

“Well, good.  I’m glad.”

“I was thinking about…. I don’t know.”


“About how it could be like this all the time.”

“Like what?”

“You know. Being together, all the time.”

“You mean marriage.”

“God, you make it sound like some plague or something!”

“Well, it is, sort of. Look, let’s not…”

“Let’s not what? You never want to discuss it. You know how important marriage is to me. I thought, since you got this house…”

“God damn it.”

“Nevermind. Just nevermind.”

She went into the kitchen, crying. I kept looking up at the ceiling. I noticed some brown-stained water marks that could mean a leak somewhere. After a while, I went into the kitchen. She was standing near the window, looking out.

“Julie, I’m really sorry.”


“No, I’m really sorry. I just… well, I’m just not ready to start thinking like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like about marriage and all. I’m just not ready.”

“I know. It’s just. You don’t understand I need change too. I need something definite. Something secure. Something I can count on.”

“I know. I understand. Look, can we just wait and talk about this some other time? I mean, the house and all..”


I took her home and thanked her for her help. On the way back I stopped at a used furniture store and saw this old love seat that probably would have fit in the corner, next to the window. It was too, much, though, so I bought a floor cushion instead.

Velvet Love Seat

{This is part of a larger work entitled Finding Life (in obvious places). To follow along with the story, click on the title in the tags below.}

Finding Life (in obvious places): Packing Up

I’m all packed and ready to go. I stayed in tonight to get ready. A Friday night, with nobody around and nothing on the television. All I can hear are the sounds of my childhood as scenes from my past flash through my mind, with a good bottle of wine to keep them there.

I found a picture of my father, posing next to his motorcycle, just before he ran off with it.

I found a letter from Julie, written when she was in high school, with nineteen exclamation points and seven hearts with arrows in them.

I found a book about Abraham Lincoln my grandmother gave me, with my name printed in pencil, along with “Age 9.”

I found a newspaper clipping about my uncle’s death. The headline read, “Man Shot By Jealous Husband.”

I found a library book that was three years overdue.

I found some poem I had written in high school about a soldier that died.

I found a picture of my mother in a bathing suit, with the words “To My Hubby” written across the top and “I Love You” across the bottom.

I found seven New Testaments given to me by my mother and her friends, the Gideons.

I put everything I found in one of three big boxes I’d gotten from work and poured a cup of wine as I looked at them in the corner, near the door. Now I’m sitting here, looking at the bare walls and empty shelves. Just like when I moved in. Like nothing’s happened.

I can now hear the fat lady singing along with the radio and laughing at the DJs. This wine isn’t as good as the guy said.

Those three boxes are still in the corner of the attic, after all these years. Joined by weights and broken toys and unused appliances — signs of life well spent, now tossed aside. Allison’s paintings of the children and our time together look on somewhat curiously. I haven’t been up there in years, but I wouldn’t let go of them for the world.

“Daddy’s Girls II”  Oil painting of children with father by Kathryn Morris Trotter

 from Gabriela Lima

{This is part of a larger work entitled Finding Life (in obvious places). You can follow the story by clicking on the title in the tags below.}

Finding Life (in obvious places): Telling Julie About the House

Tonight I told Julie about the house. The arrangements had been made. The owners were so eager to sell, all I had to do was sign a few papers and I could move in this weekend. Julie came over to the apartment after dinner and I told her.

“You what?”

“I bought a house. It’s great. Two stories. Old. Like my grandparents’.”


“I don’t know. I’m tired of this place. Listening to the fat lady next door and her radio that plays all night long. I’m tired of the lady that wears curlers and a house robe who borrows my paper and never brings it back. I just want a place of my own.”

“Well, that’s great. I guess.”

“You’re glad.”

“I’m happy if you’re happy.” She put her arms around my neck and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I was glad she’d come over.

“Will you help me move in?”

“Of course. When?”


“This Saturday?”

“Yeah. You busy?”

“Well, no. Saturday’s fine.”

“You think I’m acting impulsively.”

“No. It’s not that. You just. I’m just surprised. You’ve never really mentioned…”

“I know. I hadn’t really thought of it. But when I saw this place, I started thinking about being a kid at my grandparents’ place and I got real excited. A change like this is just what I need.”

“I think you’re right. It’s good you’re getting a place of your own. Like you’re starting to think of the future.”

“Yeah. I don’t know if I can afford it, though.”

“Things’ll work out.  I love you.”

“Yeah, maybe. Heating’s awful expensive.”

“Hey.” She put her hand on my cheek. “Things’ll work out.”

We watched the news and laid around talking about the house. As she left, I watched her drive away. waving through the car window, knowing I’d be watching. She’ll be great helping me move in, arranging the place. She loves arranging things.

Opening the hall closet, I get down the afghan Julie once knit for me. The bright colors have faded through the years and it is more than a bit unraveled. I don’t get it out much, but it still keeps me warm.

 {This post is part of a larger work entitled Finding Life (in obvious places) in first composed in 1985 and now am revising. To follow the story, click on the title in the tags below.}

Finding Life (in obvious places): A Call to Mom

I knew the bank would laugh at me trying to get a loan, so I called my mother.

“Hello?” She exhaled, then took a deep puff on her cigarette.

“Hi Mom.”

“Is this my son.”

“Of course it’s your son, Mom.”

“Oh, okay. It’s just been so long since you called. I usually call you. So, how have you been?”

“Fine, mom.”

“And Julie?”

“She’s okay, too. I guess.”

“What do you mean you guess? You are still seeing Julie, aren’t you?”

“Yes, mom.  Mom, listen. I have a favor to ask.”

“So that’s why you called. Well it’s good to know I can still do something for you. What is it?”

“Don’t be so bitter.”

“Who’s being bitter? Tell me the favor.” Exhale. Deep puff.

“I want to buy a house.”

“A house?”

“Let me finish. Yes, a house. And I’ll need to take out a loan.”

“A house? Why a house? What’s wrong with your apartment?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I just want my own place, that’s all.”

“My son, the spot welder, wants his own place. Why not build a new house? Hire a gardener and a maid…”

“Stop it, Mom.  Listen, just forget it. I only wanted… just forget it.”

“Now, now. I’m only teasing. Don’t be so sensitive. How can I help?”

“I only wanted to ask you to co-sign.”


“Yes, you. Who else would I ask?”

“Well, why not Julie’s father? I assume this means you two…”

“Stop assuming things. We aren’t getting married. I want the house for myself. That’s it. Okay?”

“You’re so much like your father. Always thinking of yourself.”

“Okay, forget it. Forget I asked.”

“Now, now. I’ll co-sign already.”

“You will?”

“Sure. What have I got to lose?

“You don’t mind then?”

“No I don’t mind. Of course, you could save your money and come back home. You know that.”

“Yes, Mom. I know that. We’ve been through this.”

“Alright, already. I’ll co-sign. Is that all you wanted?

There was a long pause. I tried to clear my throat, but nothing came out. I was sorry I’d called her. Sorry I’d had to call her. Sorry I hadn’t called her more often.

“Can I take you out to dinner sometime?” I asked.

“You don’t have to.”

“No. I want to. How’s tomorrow?”


“After church.”

“Fine.  Or, you could join me for church?

“No. I mean. I don’t…. I’ll pick you up afterwards. Okay?”


Well, it’s something. I’ve got mom to co-sign on the loan. I’m taking her out to dinner. It’s something.

I look at her photo on my dresser. Taken for her high school yearbook. She was going to become a nurse and travel overseas as a missionary. That was before dad came along. His motorcycle promised a more accessible journey to exotic places than she thought she’d ever go. Then I was conceived and her dreams of going to distant lands were replaced by days and nights of dirty diapers, incessant cries, and constant worries about bills and a husband always off even when he was around.

I look in the mirror and her voice comes back to me. “You’re just like your father.”

The Mirror of Parenting--great post about what to do when we see our own ugliness reflected in our kids

{This post is part of an extended work Finding Life (in obvious places) written in 1985 and currently being revised. To find the other posts in the series, click on the title in the tags below.}

Finding Life (in obvious places): Marriage and M&Ms

It was a usual Monday at work. Guys coming in unshaven, disheveled. Girls coming in made up, worn out underneath. Plenty of stories about how much the guys had drank and the girls had forgotten. Oh, they weren’t all like that. One guy had gotten pulled over by the cops and didn’t come in at all. Nobody made his bail.

On break, Ralph asked me how my weekend was.


“You go out with that girl of yours? Julie?”

“Yeah, we went out.”

“Boy, she’s something. Bet she’s great in the sack, huh?”

I smiled and said, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”  He was eating peanut M&Ms and offered me some. “You know, I saw this house yesterday,” I said.


“It was for sale and I think I might just get it.”

“Are you and Julie thinking…”


“No, no. It’s not that. I’m just… tired of the apartment.  You know…”

“Yeah, it gets to you.”

“So, it’s a great two-story house in the old part of town.”

“Better be careful. Those things are rat traps. You sure…”

“No. This one’s great. I mean, heating costs’ll be out of this world, but…. well, I’ve got some put away.”

“Working in this place? Come on!”

“No, really. I’ve been saving up.”

“Listen, it’s your life. But I’m saying you’re better off in the apartment until you can find a wife that’ll work. That Julie works at the bank, doesn’t she?”

“I’m not marrying Julie!”

“Hey, sorry. It’s none of my business. I, just, well, I just don’t want you rushing into something. It’s tough enough, working at this place, without having a house to care for. By yourself.”

“Yeah. I know. I just, well… I need something.”

“Ain’t Julie taking care of that?” He laughed so hard he coughed up his last three M&Ms. I gave him the change to buy another package. He came back and offered me more.

“You know,” he said slowly, careful in thought, “marriage ain’t so bad as they say. I know I give my wife a hard time, but truth is I wouldn’t know what I’d do without her. She’s a great girl.”

“That’s nice.”

“No, I mean it. Before I got married, I was staying out late, coming to work all hungover. I’m a changed man, and I have her to thank.”

“Well, I don’t drink that much.”

“That’s not my point. Listen, I’m only saying this cause I’m your friend. You better hang on to that Julie. She’ll make a great wife someday.”

I shook my head.

“Just you wait. But not too long. You hear me?” He went off and started talking to a group about drinking beer.

I went back to work and thought about marriage. My grandparents. Constantly yelling and screaming at each other. Especially on Sundays, getting ready for church. Then Mom and Dad. Until Dad ran off and Mom was left with only me and my sister to yell at. That was marriage. A lot of yelling. Especially on Sundays.

Ralph got divorced about a year later. His wife caught him with his pants down parked in the driveway of her best friend. Ralph was never the same. He developed sugar diabetes and started blacking out and losing body parts, one at a time. His ex-wife felt sorry for him and married him again, took care of him until he died. She buried him with a package of peanut M&Ms.

{This is the third entry of a work of fiction called Life (in obvious places) I first wrote in 1985. To follow along with the story, click on the title in the tags below).

Finding Life (in obvious places): The House

Once again, I am beginning another writing assignment – taking a collection of stories I wrote in 1985 called Life (in obvious places) and adding a narrator’s perspective from 30 years later (in italics).  My plan is to write the first draft in serial form over the next several months.  I will continue to post on other subjects, such as “Mental Health Mondays,” so stayed tuned…

Finding Life (in obvious places) begins here and continues here…

Today, I walked down a street I used to wander as a child. Old houses an arm’s length apart, old paint peeling away at the edges. My grandparents used to live around here. Sunday afternoons we’d play croquet in the front yard and watch the neighbor, Mr. Shepler, sweating like a pig and yelling at his lawn mower and three children. Mrs. Shepler would come out with a pitcher of iced tea and listen to him curse the weather, how hot the summers were getting.

About five blocks away from the Sheplers’ I noticed a “For-Sale-By-Owner” sign. I decided to explore. It was a two-story house, with attic and basement. The white painting was graying and the gutters were falling down. The grass was high; tall dandelions covered the front yard, some creeping through the cracks in the sidewalk.

I thought of the family dinners where Grandma would put the dandelions we’d picked for her in a Mason jar and use it as a centerpiece, as proud as a peacock. Mother never understood the dandelions. She’d say they were just weeds the didn’t belong in the house, much less on the dinner table.

After Grandpa died, Mr. Shepler started moving Grandma’s yard — early on Sunday mornings so he could get to his own in the afternoon. Grandma was grateful, though she also believed he was committing a sin working on the Lord’s Day.  The other widow ladies would drive by slowly on their way to church, staring at the sweaty 75-year old with his unbuttoned short-sleeve shirt and Bermuda shorts. Grandma just closed her shades.

“What?” I moved over to his chair. He sat still, but motioned with his arms.

“Ya interested in buying? The owners are out. Moved to Chicago. I’m watchin’ over the place.”

“Well, I was just… Kinda walkin’ around.”

“Cliff Barton’s the name,” he said, lifting his arm.

“Robert Thompson,” we shook hands.

Ya lookin’ to move, Robert?”

“Well, I don’t know. Wouldn’t mind…”

“It’s quite a find. Solid foundation. Fenced in back yard. Quiet neighborhood. Course it’s old. Price of heating these days. But it’s a nice house. Got a lot of good use.”

“I’m sure it’s a fine house. It’s just… well, I wasn’t actually planning on buying my own…”

“Where ya from?”

“Around here. Stonehedge Apartments.”

“Got a family?”

“No. I’m a… well, I’m single.”

“Yeah? I don’t suppose a young man like yerself’d have much use for a house.”

“It’s not that. Actually, I have been thinkin’ about getting out of the apartment. I’m tired of paying in and not getting anything out of it.”

“You got a good job? That is, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“No… I mean I don’t mind. I, um, I work at Arvin’s.”

“And yer lookin’ for a place of your own?”

“Well, yeah, kind of…”–

“Here, let me show you the place. I’ll go grab the keys.”

I reach in my front pocket and pull out that same set of keys, gently worn from thirty years of use, held together with a John Deere key ring. I look out at the neighborhood — the same neighborhood Mr. Barton watched thirty years ago. It looks much the same, but so much has changed. Cliff Barton died in 1986, right after Allison moved in. Thomas was born. Then Mary came along.  For a while, the place was so full of life. Now it’s just me, sitting in this old lawn chair, looking for life in obvious places.

vintage metal lawn chairs

“vintage metal lawn chairs” from Rhonda Zoch in Home ~ Goods