My guest today is author Sharon Duerst, with a story of interest to anyone who will age, which is to say (with any luck) all of us. Here’s her story:
Death and empty nests can do a lot for unleashing passions. This I discovered after my parents passed and our kids left home. My husband and I were truly on our own like never before.
We went looking for a little getaway/retirement house on a couple acres within an hour of my husband’s favorite hunting grounds in NE Oregon. But we found something else…I was less than thrilled, at first, with purchasing 230 acres of forest land sporting a rustic cabin and no running water. The trees and flowers of the area are gorgeous.
It was bitter sweet, though. Just on the other side of the nearby Blue Mountains is Walla Walla where my parents lived, and even closer is the valley where I was born and the ranch where my grandfather and father were born. I’d never planned to spend much time near Idaho, but I had a new motivation for going along with the idea. I’d been diagnosed the year before with a shocking and “likely early” autoimmune liver disease. I feared my life would be shortened. Maybe I’d be like my parents: passing in my sixties–or sooner.
Who lives off the grid 40 miles from town?
Even though it wasn’t MY dream to spend a lot of time in off-grid wilderness forty miles from a small town, I figured the seclusion might help me finally complete and publish a novel I’d been dragging out and working on over ten years. And perhaps by allowing my husband’s fondest dream to be pursued, maybe mine would materialize, too.
It was fun fixing up the cabin: painting, installing a small wind generator and solar panels, rigging up a propane shower to a five gallon bucket of rainwater. We felt very capable! Of course there were things I had to adjust my thinking to: outhouses, no cell service for five miles and only when the wind was not blowing. Surrounded by farm land and forest, the nearest neighbors were miles away. My parents would’ve loved visiting this mountain place, seeing the wildlife: white tail deer, elk, bear, turkeys, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, wolves, even a moose! They would’ve enjoyed campfires under bright stars. And they would’ve marveled over the dozens of varieties of wildflowers springing up everywhere with luscious scents and colors.
One summer evening a year or so later, after early showers following a long hike, my husband left on the 4-wheeler. He loves spotting wildlife and photographing landscapes. Donned in a summer gown, I was settled on the couch with my laptop. He’d been gone awhile when a sound on wind coming in the open window raised hair on my neck, “Shaaarrrooonnn!!”
I jumped up, pulled on rubber boots and a coat, grabbed a flashlight. I started running on a trail through the woods. Was my husband hurt? Had he fallen from the tree stand which is 16 feet off the ground and directly over a barbed wire fence? My heart pounded! I spotted the 4-wheeler at the bottom of a rocky streambed. Was he trapped there? Could I get him out? Could I drive it to the cabin, load him into the truck, go for help? My mind raced as I approached, but he wasn’t there! I started running again, my eyes peering through the forest and scouring the ground. I started yelling, “JON! JON!”
Suddenly, my husband stepped out from behind a tree and calmly asked why I was scaring away the wildlife.
I don’t know for sure what the sound was on the wind. But I took it as a wakeup call.
I was unprepared for complications, calamities, and compromised capabilities of aging! Even with my initial shock of a diagnosis for a disease I never knew existed, once I started the medication doctors said could stave off liver deterioration, I hoped I’d have years of good health ahead. And I didn’t worry at all about my husband’s health.
But the wind “calling my name” made me realize: we’re all on terminal journeys. Life can change, or end, in a flash. We’d better be unleashing our passions and doing what matters most.! And we’d better do it now! We’ll each be going alone on the next journey. And we won’t be taking anything with us…not money, unfinished projects, or anyone else’s dreams.
I vowed then to get serious about what I want most in this life. A story long ago had ignited my passions and I knew I needed to finish it.After several years, Mending Stone was finally published.
Find more about this Possibility Series on Amazon books and author
Or on my Mending Stone website page books
(Possibility Series books are also available on
Barnes & Noble.com, and can be ordered at bookstores)