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The Fence

This last weekend I started working around my parent's 102-year-old home trying to restore the outside area back to the past when it was well kept and beautiful. Both my parents are gone now. I came upon a small white picket fence that surrounded the back part of a patio in their backyard. I pondered a memory and processed the emotions with a bittersweet taste in my blood.

My mother kept the inside and outside of her home tidy until her body aged and her mind became sweet and simple. I took her outside one summer afternoon to sit on the patio and have a glass of sun tea when she looked at the old fence and said, "It needs paint, Judy."

I walked over and looked at the fence determining it was rotting and old and first thought to say, "There is no reason to paint this fence it is rotten," But, I stopped myself before the words slipped out and looked at my mom. Here sits a proud woman that gave me life and does not see the rot, only possibility. I looked at her smiled and said, "Sure Mom, you can watch me paint and let me know if I missed any spots." So, off I went to get the paint and brush and start the tedious task of painting the fence.

It took me three afternoons to paint the fence making sure I got both sides and the top and sides of the pickets. We visited and talked about life, family, and the farm. A repeated topic each day as Mom was unable to track new topics or ideas. The energy was strong with love as I logged each moment to have for my future.

When I finished we both enjoyed the sight of clean white paint. I was glad she could not get over to the fence and touch it as I feared it would not take much to make it crumble. Mom died three months later when her body failed. She lived with so much energy riding her horse in her eighties and lived each day fully.

Today I took a hammer and it took three hits to knock the fence down and very little energy to pull the rotten pickets and transport them to the burn pile.

I smiled and remembered this time as my heart filled with love for her, my family, and this wonderful place I call home. Perhaps we all need to paint a rotten fence with love to reconnect with ourselves and others.

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