Goodbye Jake, Goodbye Oak, Goodbye Home

There’s a huge, magnificent oak tree in our pasture that was little more than a sapling when our Idaho farmhouse was built in 1905. When Jake died it made a perfect final resting place for our much-loved, Lake Don Pedro-born cow dog. We like thinking of him nestled there in the earthy embrace of the old grandfather. Alive, he loved rolling in the cool grass under its canopy. It comforted us to imagine him there forever. Until now. I try not to think about that.

Jake. Us.

We’re leaving our little farmhouse at the end of the month. Moving is exciting and terrifying. I know the change is net-positive, but it feels more than uncomfortable. I’ve fallen far short of the aspirational tone in last year’s Giving Up the Sacred, Coming Home by wallowing in regret. I know once gone, I never get to go back.

Giving up precious things – emotional and actual – has been a price I willingly pay to keep moving forward. This move however, though chosen with eyes wide open, frightens me. It’s more than geographical. It’s a letting go of who we’ve fancied ourselves – residents of this reflection of the way the West once was. If we don the right set of visual blinders and look northeast toward the majestic Boise front range we can imagine ourselves living far from any neighbor though they surround us. I’ll miss that especially.

To the northeast.

I’ve sensed a shift coming for some time and thought retirement was it, but that was only the beginning. On balance, this move will be good for us both. We’re tired of working hard. It’s the right time in our lives to step back. We’re exchanging over seven acres here for less than one, moving to a new home not far from here. We’ve made the right decision. Knowing that makes leaving a little easier, but not easy.

I’m already feeling the irrevocable loss of this place. Mourning, because I’m making peace with the thought that we’ll never come back. We’ve rehomed the horses (all but Chula – I can’t quite part with her yet), the 4-wheelers, and tractor. The place will be swarming with folks at Saturday’s barn sale enthusiastically giving us pennies on the dollar, helping us deconstruct our life here.

Keeping Chula.

More than our possessions though, it’s the memories I’ll miss. The essence of living here. No more cherry cobblers from our trees. We ate our last tomato from the garden months ago without knowing it. No more BBQs on the patio, watching cars go by from the large front porch, no more grandchildren helping Papa move irrigation lines on the 4-wheeler. No more pollinators buzzing busily in the patch by the pump. These memories are not unlike the things I miss about my own childhood home.

Jake’s final resting spot.

Before first day of packing (the last day our home would be intact) the G-kids spent the night with us. Lying in bed, feeling the wind of change beginning to blow in my face, I wanted to shake them awake so they realized the gravity of the moment with me, but of course I didn’t. Who knows what they will remember about Mama and Papa’s place. Warmth and love, I hope. And the embrace of this home.

This place has been a refuge and we did whatever we could to give back in return. It had fallen on hard times but over a decade we rebuilt it with love. Made it a cozy home, a nest well feathered. A soft place to land in hard times. One we intended to leave only to enter the old folks home or the pearly gates.

But just for kicks one day we went out looking at houses with our daughter the Realtor and we opened a door. We stumbled into another place we can imagine ourselves in. The new place, nothing like this place, had an air of inevitability to it. A supposed to be feeling. So we listed and sold.

What would Jake think about our new postage stamp sized yard? Though I tell myself he’d rather stay under the mighty oak (where he will), I know he’d choose to come along. Because Jake knew that there is no better thing than to be with the ones you love. As do we. We’ll miss knowing he’s with us. We’ll miss that glorious oak framing our view of the mountains. We’ll miss this home.

We’re leaving anyway, Lord help us, it’s time. Goodbye.


  1. What a beautiful way to say goodbye to your place. I am feeling all of those things about our place and it’s only a matter of time when we will be in your shoes. We too have many memories here. it is where Heather grew up and the place where I have created a beautiful garden and the trees have become tall and shady on a hot day. I have days when I am excited and optimistic and days where I feel like I just can’t do this. I know it will be worth it in the end though. Time is getting so short and we need to do what Nike said “Just do it!! “ See you soon!


      1. Beautifully and masterfully written because this piece pulls on our heart strings. It exposes our desire to end our life’s desire for a final wonderful place we can call home forever. If there’s one thing I learned in my life, it’s that everything we have is borrowed. Jake will follow you. You will find peace again and the pieces of your life will be whole again. You’ll be ok and you will experience happiness again.


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