David picked up his cell phone and dialed Dirk’s number.
“Hey, I’m behind your house.”
“What? I don’t see you.”
Dirk and Pat are our neighbors, but their back yard is fenced, and with the placement of their windows it would be hard to sneak past them.
“Well, I’m right behind your house. It’s on the bridge.”
I could almost hear the screams from the passenger’s seat. We were on our way home from lunch at the Senior Center, and half of the Schutters’ new house was in front of us, traveling very slowly down the narrow, tree-lined road. By the time we got within sight of their three-acre homestead, Pat, Dirk and their daughters Tracy and Rebecca had abandoned their lunch and were standing beside the road, cameras in hand.
When they first moved to Emory, Dirk built a cozy two-bedroom guest house with the intention of adding the house of Pat’s dreams soon afterward. But other projects, especially those with Volunteer Christian Builders and Campers on Mission, intervened and after ten years they were still living in the guest house. Then two months ago on an outing to Tyler they stopped in to look at manufactured homes “just for fun.”
“I didn’t really like any of the new ones,” said Pat. “But the salesman said he had a repo out back. We walked in the door, and I knew it was exactly what I wanted.”
For the next several weeks, neighbors watched in fascination as the Schutters prepared a place for the
new house. A couple of trees bit the dust, several flower beds were moved and a lot of dirt was shifted around. A motorhome that had provided supplemental housing for guests over the years was winched out of the way. Dirk said the brakes were frozen in place after years of inactivity, but I think it was just getting back at him for dropping a tree on it.
Delivery day finally arrived, and David and I wanted to watch. The back half of the house was parked in the road just passed the Schutters’ lot, and we pulled into the driveway, settling in for the show while the truck went back to the church parking lot to retrieve the front half of the house. A small crowd began to gather, partly because the only way to get past was through the ditch but mostly because this is the most excitement the neighborhood had seen since our ex-tenants left with their 50+ dogs. We pulled lawn chairs into the shade, sipped ice-cold water and speculated about how the delivery crew would manage such a huge task. One of Emory’s finest even joined us for a while after he reassured a nervous neighbor that the house wouldn’t cross anyone’s property but the owners’. It gave a whole new meaning to the term neighborhood watch.
It was amazing to see the men maneuver the house into place with skill that comes only from lots of practice. They coaxed the two halves through turns that would have been tight for a regular vehicle, but seeing two 16’x76’ structures pivot through a 180 degree turn and end up within inches of the intended site was mind-boggling. The guys in the audience were particularly fascinated with the little tractor that pushed, pulled and lifted according to the remote commands from its operator. I think each of them was imagining how much fun he’d have if he could just get his hands on that joy stick for a few minutes.
That was a week ago. Since then various crews have come in to put finishing touches on Pat’s dream home, and she and Dirk have started moving in some furniture. They had a family dinner there over the weekend, but I doubt they’ll spend the night until the air conditioner is installed later this week. Regardless of how long you’ve waited, a dream house can turn into a nightmare in this Texas heat.