The last couple that had looked at our house was concerned about termite damage. There was a very small, 2-3 inches long, section of rotten wood on the exterior of our home. Andy, the son of our neighbor and our handyman friend, was coming to fix it. We’d had two termite inspectors come to look for termites within that time who said we had no sign of termites, so I wasn’t worried.
Pulling the peanut butter from the cabinet, I turned to scoop the baby up out of her chair. Opening the fridge, I pulled out some apples. As I was cutting up the food for lunch, I saw Andy walk to the side of the house.
“Oh good, he’s here. He’ll fix that small patch and we’ll tell that couple it was nothing."
Hungrily, the kids came in to grab a plate and an apple slice as I heard the tearing of the wood.
"He’s probably already done.”
Then, I heard a knock on the back door.
I put the baby back in her chair and told the kids to go sit at the table.
I opened the door.
“Hey, Andy. How are you?”
“Not too good.”
Then he held up a piece of wood about a foot long.
“Rachel, I know you’ve had two termite inspectors come, but if these aren’t termites, I’d like to know what they are.”
My eyes glazed over. I looked down at the piece of wood. Then, I saw them--tiny little white ants all over the wood.
“Oh, oh no, Andy. Please tell me you are kidding me. There’s no way we have termites.”
“I’m going to call an inspector one more time. I know they’ve told you twice that they aren’t termites, so I’ll get them over here again to see if we can find out what is goin’ on.”
I stood in disbelief.
“Maybe it’s not termites, right Andy? Maybe it’s just some bugs or ants. We’ve had ants before. Surely two different inspectors would have caught it.”
“Well, I would’ve thought so, too but these sure look like termites,” his words throwing weight on my already heavy heart.
“I’ll call Larry at Barnett’s and have him come and take a look.”
Andy walked back outside and pulled out his cell phone.
I turned around and looked at Mary Manor, still sitting in the Bumpo.
“No way would God do this to me, not today.”
I walked into the dining room and sat down with the kids who were eating happily.
“What did he say, mama?” my son asked.
“Well, we have some bugs living in our wood, and I’m just hoping it’s nothing serious.”
Outside, I could hear Andy pounding and scrapping, still removing the damage from the house. A while later, a white truck pulls up outside. A man, who looked to be in his 50s, got out of the truck and disappeared onto the other side of the house.
Then, there was a knock on the back door.
“Hey, I’m Larry. I’ve been looking at your house, and I’m not sure how I missed it before, but you definitely have termites.”
My mind reeled.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. . .let me see.”
I pushed through the inspector, and turned the corner, my olive green skirt twirling around my knees.
“Oh Lord. . .”
And as I stared at the remnants of what used to be the side of my house, I got it. I finally got it.
“Oh God, that’s me. It’s a picture of me. God, I see it, it’s me. This is all that is left of me—studs. You have completely torn me down to the studs. You’ve stripped me down to this. I see it.”
At that moment, I knew God was giving me a physical picture of what was happening to me spiritually. Andy had pulled off layer after layer of rotten wood, leaving the interior of our home exposed, the insulation hanging out, and a pile of rotten, termite-ridden wood in a pile.
“You’ve taken me down to nothing. I have nothing left.”
“Well, let’s talk about different treatment options, m’am, if that’s okay with you. Do you want to stand under that tree?” He pointed to the dogwood tree that was no longer in bloom.
“I think I need to sit down. Can we go inside?” I asked.
We turned toward the house, toward the damage, and walked inside. I took him into the living room and offered him a seat on the couch opposite of mine. It was hard to listen to what he was saying. In my mind I was wondering how I would tell Michael about the termites. How would we pay for it? How extensive was it? A million things were running through my mind.
To Be Continued . . .