The man scrawled the two words in pen on the plywood on the west wall of the mud room that day in 2000 before the workers hung the drywall in his new house. Ever a visionary, he lived for the future. No “Possible window” or even “Window?” for him.
The man oversaw the details of his house’s construction, making his mark in other ways too before the paint dried. But he died in 2006, and his widow lived by herself in the house, unaware of his intentions inked on wood underneath the wall’s layers.
Even though she was alone, the woman loved the house she and her husband had built together. And she delighted in the rural property surrounding their home. She gardened all summer long, planting, weeding, and tidying flower beds and vegetable plots during the day. No enjoyment could take place outside after dark in northern Minnesota, though—the ravenous mosquitoes would see to that. If she were to linger in the evening air with the chirping crickets or freshly-cut grass, she would need to do it in a screened-in tent. And so she bought one.
Soon, a storm destroyed her tent. She purchased a second one. Strong winds tore it from her yard. She bought a third one. But this time too, the weather stole it away.
She voiced her problem to her adult children.
“Mom, you should build a sunroom,” one of them suggested.
“A sunroom,” she said. “What a good idea.”
With the help of her children, the woman determined the ideal placement for the room. She would build it, facing west—just off the mud room.
One day in the spring of 2011, contractors cut through the wall of her house. The noise ceased for a minute, and one of the men called out to her.
“Come here. You’ve gotta see this,” he said.
The woman hurried to the demolition site. The workman pointed to a board, once hidden away beneath the sheetrock. On it were written two words.
“‘Future window.’” She splayed a hand on her chest. “That’s his writing.”
How could it be that her husband’s dream of a window eleven years earlier matched her dream of windows too—in the same spot?
The days passed, though, and the woman forgot all about her husband’s writing. The crew worked for several months, erecting walls, pounding nails, installing fourteen large windows and a glass door, and painting the room a pale green. That fall, the woman’s brother, son, and son-in-law laid the bamboo floor. The sunroom was done.
In early 2012, the woman eyed the temporary steps going out of the sunroom to the yard—stairs that remained from the project. They could have stayed, but she had a better idea.
“Let’s build a deck off the sunroom,” she said.
The workers ripped off the old steps, and in their place, began building a deck that would branch out beyond her new room of many windows.
One day, the woman remembered the piece of wood with the two words.
“Whatever happened to that board my husband wrote on?” she asked a worker.
“I think we used it for one of the old steps,” he said. “I’ll go look.”
He rummaged around in the pile of wood torn from the house and found it among the scraps.
The woman gazed at the writing. Her husband had lived for the future. And maybe it could be said he lived for the destination instead of the road for getting there. But his focus drove him to love what was ahead, praying Light and Life for generations to come.
“I’m going to keep this,” she said.
I sipped coffee at Mom’s kitchen table during the Polar Vortex of January 2019. A windchill of almost minus fifty drove us inside for most of my visit up at her farm in northern Minnesota, and no amount of persuasion could convince me to enjoy the great outdoors. I shivered and pulled my sweater closer.
“Let’s drink our coffee in the sunroom,” Mom said.
I beamed. The room of many windows—my favorite room of all in her house. “Let’s do it.”
I refilled my mug, added a splash of cream, and headed with Mom toward the sunroom. I paused at the entrance and looked up. Above the doorway hung the piece we kids had framed for Mom in 2012 as a Christmas present. It was a rugged one, that gift, floating in its refined frame.
And there was Dad’s handwriting again, reminding me of his love for Mom—even beyond the years he would see: “Future window”
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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.