You see simple ranch-style red brick homes all over western Pennsylvania, where I live. You might drive by this one and not give it a second glance. Its not impressive or imposing. It doesn't have columns or dormers or gables. It was built in the understated style of a typical 1960s ranch.
But this little house is very special to my son-in-law and his family. It belongs to his grandparents, Jim and Marilyn. Jim built the house himself in the early 60s, customizing it to meet the needs of his wife and family. For the next fifty years they called it home.
The maple trees growing in the yard started out as saplings dug by the couple's two young children on their grandparents' farm many years ago. They've grown tall and strong, just like the kids, who are now adults with children and grandchildren of their own.
All of the original plantings around the house were given to Marilyn by friends and neighbors who shared what was growing in their yards. That's the way it was in this small town. It was a great place to make a life and raise a family.
Marilyn passed away a few months ago. It was a devastating loss for this very close family. To honor her and commemorate the lifetime she and Jim spent together in this home, I was asked to do a painting. It would be a way to remember the very special woman who made this house a home.
It was only natural that she and her husband be included in the painting, since anytime family or friends left their home, Jim and Marilyn would stand by the driveway and wave goodbye until the departing car was out of sight. Their daughter says, "This cherished gift will always remind us that Mom insisted that we say 'So long!' when we departed instead of 'Goodbye' in acknowledgement that Christians, blessed with eternal life, never truly have to say 'Goodbye' to each other."
So long, Marilyn. We'll think of you often, and see you again one day.