What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Remnants of the Past

The Old Whelchel House
(double click on pictures to enlarge view)

My Mother's Favorite Flower: Lilacs!
Look at how many chimneys! This house
also had a "dog-trot" through the center of
it, which was typical of old Georgia houses.

Daddy loved the old chevy!

They called it "the Old Whelchel Estate", a house reclaimed by the land.  The lone survivors: a lilac blooming in the sun, wisteria climbing over the rickety porch roof and up the rough fieldstone chimney, the rusty shell of a 1930 Chevrolet Sedan abandoned in the yard.  Remains of a by-gone era such as an ancient feather-tick mattress on the floor of the upstairs bedroom, broken pieces of a cane-bottomed rocker that once rocked restless babies to sleep in the arms of their work-worn mother...shreds of wallpaper peeling off the wall with yellowed newpaper backing, all telling a story of yesteryear. 

Remnants of what must have been an old chest of memories littered the floor. There were scraps of paper with numerous handwritten notes, scrawled in the ancient penmanship of an old scholar. Geneologies, obituaries and wedding announcements from faded newspaper clippings, and fragile pieces of a more recent letter from an old childhood friend gave a poignant portrayal of what used to be. 
"Dear Homer", the letter began, "I sure enjoyed my visit with you. Yes! It was good to see so many of my childhood friends.  I went to the old homestead I knew when I was a child, then I went to the cemetery, looking at the graves of so many I usto know.  then we just spent the afternoon driving over the old roads we usto travel over.  Yes! I shed some tears as well as smiles."  The letter continued on, "Homer, have you ever given any thought of what a wonderful story yours and my life really is? Oh, yes! Our story will never be written, but what an interesting story!  Almost as good as some of the best selling books; but a story that will die when we die.  But such a beautiful story! No wonder we still like to see each other.  Yes! Our lives were interesting!  Know what?  I didn't like telling you 'good-bye'.  I guess you know I began to cry when I left you; so many memories!  You said that one of those lovely old oak trees were hit by lightning.  I do hope the tree will live.  They are so beautiful!"   Love always, Clara."

It was a glorious spring morning the day we made these discoveries.  This old homestead was nestled back in the Georgia piney-woods overlooking a magnificent view of Lake Lanier.  The weathered boards of the old house were gray from years of neglect.  The voluptuous purple wisteria rambled  across the sagging front porch and wandered up the the sides of the house.  Tangled masses of forsythia and climbing roses hampered our pathway to the porch steps.  Much to our delight a lone lilac bush bloomed gloriously in the side yard...all fragrant reminders of the life that once teemed within the confines of this forgotten habitat.  The "lovely old oak tree" mentioned in the letter truly had been hit by lightning at some earlier time, but the outer limbs lived on.
As we sifted through the remnants from the past, so many visions of what must have been crept into my mind.  We lingered a while just drinking it all in, and wishing we could turn back the clock.  How I would have loved to have met Homer and Clara and heard their life's story from their own lips; but I guess Clara was right; their story would have to die with them.

Learning about Homer and Clara caused me to reflect on my own life. I wondered, "When my life is over and done on this earth, what would remain for others to remember? Would there be any meaningful remnants of the past left for others to see? When my children or grandchildren sift through the rubble of what was once my prized possessions, what would they think?  Would they find only treasures of dusty photographs, scraps of letters and newspaper clippings, momentos that would only be meaningful to myself?  After the auctioneer has sold to the highest bidder the few furnishings and trappings of my earthly life, what would be left?

Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (NKJV)
Yes, the treasures I want to remain are heavenly...the faith of a child who first learned about Jesus while being cradled in his mother's arms and listening to her sing, "Jesus Loves Me".  A portrait of a woman who lived a life of faith and commitment to Christ, who never looked back when the going got too tough...A person who treasured her relationship with her Lord, her family, and her friends in Christ.  These are the treasures that would live on and on for eternity; not a house built with wood and stone filled with worthless trinkets! 

A few years after our lovely day at The Old Whelchel Estate I saw in the local paper that old Homer had died in a nursing home at the age of ninety-seven. The property was sold to a relative, and soon the old house was torn down to make way for a new housing development on the lake.  Tears slipped down my cheeks as I mourned the loss.  Then I laughed as I remembered that for Christmas that past year my father had painted two landscape pictures from the past for me...one of the old house just as we had seen it that spring day, and another of the rickety old barn.  Those paintings would live on to retell the story again and again.  I could just picture old Homer and Clara enjoying a heavenly reunion themselves in their "mansions over the hilltop", where neither rust or decay or progress would ever destroy!

As for me, I will continue to thank the Lord for the blessed reminder He gave me that day to lay up my real treasures in heaven with Him!

Note the interesting tree...the one that had been struck
by lightening at some earlier time?
What a wonderful old barn! It's so sad that this is gone forever!

Post Script added 6-8-12: These are the paintings that my father painted from our memories of that special day.  These pictures are very special treasures to me now that both of my dear parents are gone on to heaven. Looking at this story again and the pictures captured that day so many years ago makes me long to have that reunion in heaven soon.  Until then I will cherish these precious "Remnants from the Past".


  1. Love this post. How in the world did you find this old place? How like you to (the historian) to keep the pictures AND know where they were when you needed them. I'm impressed!

  2. This was way back in the "80's"...not sure how we found it...just one of those days where we said, "Let's go for a ride in the country"...and this is where we ended up! What a treasure trove this turned out to be for me...especially in the sweet memories of a day spent with my Mom and Dad 'exploring' together...that was the best part of all!


Thank you for visiting here today. I would love for you to sign my guestbook and let me know you stopped by. I always enjoy reading your comments and words of encouragement! May you be blessed as you go on your way. Please come back and visit again soon.