Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life Stories

A colleague at work shared a wonderful experience about listening to a speaker, Donald Miller, who came to Calvin to talk about story telling. After listening to his account of the evening, I was despondent to have missed such a wonderful event. But his words stayed with me as Paul and I took off for Oscoda to have the cottage inspected pre-sale. Themes ran through my head - things that go into a good story - tension, conflict, compassion, heartbreak, resolution.

We headed up north Thursday night after work and stayed at the AmericInn in Oscoda. I had no idea what the place would be (websites can be rather deceptive in looks and location) and we were delighted with the place. And the people were terrific. We made such great time on our drive, Paul treated me to a draught of beer at the VFW across the street. Just imagine Killian's Red in a frosted mug. Oh yum.

It is in the VFW where we met Winky and Butch. There is no need to change the names to protect the guilty - they would be thrilled to be mentioned in a blog. Given that neither has likely seen much technology, I doubt they will see it.

Winky and Butch have had a rich tapestry of life experience. And each had enough liquor to share the highlights. (For a G-rated blog, I have done extensive editing of the expletives). Winky had a script of quips that continually ran while we were enjoying our beer. Comments like, 'That's a FACT" or "damn straight" when listening to Butch talk. We learned through the time in the VFW that Winky had only ever been in love once in his 60+ years, had an ex-wife who rented out rooms to travelers (he thought we should contact her for a room - we declined), and really wanted to be down in the Florida Keys ... though he had actually never been there.

Butch had a different life than Winky though about the same amount of alcohol that evening. Butch had been married to his wife for 39 years and 2 days before she passed; love two additional woman including Phylis but sadly, she died. He was enjoying life as a bachelor, still working and driving around. We were not sure what Butch did for a living but he did have experience at some point working for Pepsi.

Both Winky and Butch had lots of advice for us on cottage purchasing and ownership. Butch told us to lowball everything. Take the asking price and knock 40% off, he said. Winky advised us to buy something that didn't need any work because you need a $#%@^ permit to fart up here. He said. We chuckled. Inside I was rolling on the floor. What characters. And of course, I didn't have my camera. But we will be back and I suspect that Butch and Winky will be there too.

The inspection was terrific with ample time for me to take more pictures of the property. It's hard to take it all in- I am always glad to have reminders. There are a few things that need attention - we aren't surprised since these older homes will have some wear and tear. Hopefully the seller will be willing to fix them.

Regardless of the bumps, I am constantly reminded that our individual and collective lives are beautiful stories. Fragmented. Intertwined. Cliffhangers. Mysteries. Sometimes difficult, at times bittersweet, frequently amazing and always -every single day - a miracle. A gift from God. I work hard to not squander such a gift.
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