Life chapters

When you finish a really great book, you don’t say, “Boy, I’m glad that’s done.”

No, you get yourself right to your favorite bookstore or online source to find out, “What ELSE has this great author written?”

You’re looking for the next chapter.

This zoned in on me this last weekend as my siblings and I loaded up the last things at my mom and dad’s house, known as Wheel C Ranch, which will go on the real estate block this week in a lovely rural area of Elk Grove, California.

The house is unique. Years ago my sister Roberta had her horse boarded just down the road at Mackey Stables. She used to trail ride her quarterhorse Cricket around the lovely neighborhood, lined with oak trees. One day as she rode onto a piece of property, a man stepped out of the barn there and said, “Young lady, if you want to ride your horse on this property, you need to tell your parents to buy it.”

Well, she did, and they did.

My mom, then an elementary school teacher, has an interior design degree from Syracuse University. So she made house plans that turned the barn into a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a huge, open-concept living area. She now says with a smile, “I invented the open concept.”

And because my dad always told us five kids, “We’ll see…,” when we asked him something, I dubbed the place the Wheel C Ranch.

The last three kids graduated from high school and college from that house, which has housed all sorts of folks over the years, including us when we were building our house, our kids during various summers, Rotary International visitors, families in transition, and more.

My parents were the hosts with the most. The most smiles. The most official tour guide options of the Gold Country, Sacramento, the Wine Country, and San Francisco. And certainly the most food. There was always Too. Much. Food.

Wheel C Ranch was the perfect place for horsey folks, which Mom was and which Dad supported. He drove his little tractor around, picking up…well, you know, horse remnants. Two horse barns and a riding ring later, it was the perfect place for lessons and for others to board their horses. Consequently, Mom and Dad “adopted” several other “daughters,” girls who hung around with their best friends that just happened to have four feet instead of two.

Dad died of ALS in March 1999, and Mom has held down the fort–‘er ranch–since that time, navigating seas of roof replacement, heating system replacement, paint. She’s just been a rock all those times.

And while the chapters at Wheel C Ranch are now done, there’s a wonderful new book for Mom as she makes new friends at her apartment, where she can host visitors in a lovely community dining room that looks just as nice as most restaurants.

Sometimes we re-read our favorite books. Through photos and memories we can re-visit the best of times at Wheel C Ranch . . . and we pray the next family will find just as much, if not more, delight there as they raise their kids and 4-H animals. We pray for them this verse: “Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places” (Isaiah 32:18).

And what’s next for us all? Well, as Dad would say, “We’ll see….”

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