Radio Diaries: Fixing the House

Jun 2, 2017

There’s an old gray house in my neighborhood that I walk past every week.  Pink insulation sticks out where the asphalt shingles are missing.  The people who lived there tore off the screen door and hauled a washer out onto the lawn.  Then they moved out and left a toilet in the driveway.

After that, the house sat empty for a long time but I never saw a “For Sale” sign.  “It has possibilities,” I thought, sounding like a real estate agent.  But I knew it was more than a “fixer-upper.”  It was a “starter-over.”

Even so, it had a nice back yard and a red pine tree next to the front porch.  A year passed, maybe two, and then things started changing, mostly on weekends—a new roof, some new windows.

None of it happened quickly but every time I walked by, I noticed some small improvement, evidence that the owners—whoever they were—hadn’t given up.  And now, at last, they’ve moved in!  The repairs aren’t complete but there’s a gas grill in the yard instead of a washer, and the lights are on at night.

I don’t even know these new neighbors but their efforts have touched me, reminded me how doing something good helps everybody.