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The Old Man and the Window

bruce-gerencser-santa-clausThe old man wrestles from his sleep, awakened by his nightly need to empty his bladder.

In the distance, he hears the noise tires make as first-shift factory workers and other laborers make their way to their places of employment.

As the old man nears the door of the bedroom, he stops, turns, and pulls back the curtain on the window.

The old man and the window know each other well. He has stood at this window thousands of times, perusing the village street — a main two-lane highway running north to southeast through Defiance County.

The old man surveys the early morning landscape. He glances up at the yellow streetlight giving off its glow. The light reflects off a light snow that is falling.

The old man glances at the two cars sitting in his driveway, one red, the other blue, both covered with a skiff of snow.

To the south and west, the old man notices the lights are on at what he calls the “party house.” Young adults live there, though they are rarely seen except for when they throw a party. Then, the house is pulsating with music so loud that even the deaf old man hears the noise. Voices, laughter, and drunken revelry join the music, singing a chorus of freedom. But on this morning, the house is quiet.

The house on the corner shows signs of life. The old man notices his young neighbor’s minivan is running, warming its cabin before the neighbor leaves for work. The right flasher is flashing, likely having been accidentally activated when the neighbor started the van.

Farther to the west, the old man sees the lighted sign for the local bar and restaurant. Cars are parked along the road, likely farmers meeting at the restaurant to eat breakfast and catch up on the latest gossip

Far in the distance, the old man sees the sign for the local gas station and convenience store. Nearby hangs the town’s one unnecessary traffic light.

The old man sees all of these things in seconds.

He wonders, “how many more times will I look out this window before I die?”

He knows the answer, “not many.” There will come a day when life will continue coursing through the streets of Ney, but without the old man in the window.

All he knows is that today is not that day.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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  1. Avatar

    Poignant and peaceful. I tend to get the 4am feeling of sadness, when I hear the lonely train whistles, spring and fall, when our bedroom window is open at night. As for how many days are left, I hope you have as many as make you happy.

  2. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    I’m in better health than you are, Bruce, but on really bad knee mornings I look out my bedroom/office window and watch the squirrels who live in my oak tree while trying to talk myself into standing up. Sometimes I wonder how long I’ll be able to do that. Sometimes I wonder how long I’ll want to do that.

  3. Avatar

    wishing you many more happy days bruce. but reality is that we will all die eventually. you have helped so many make the most of what days we have left by revealing the fraud behind evangelicalism and so called ministry. your writings will continue to help others many days/years from now. thanks.

  4. Avatar
    Hugh D. Young

    I know you’re not a believer in any kind of afterlife, but I’m not so sure of that myself. I’m certainly not flat out saying that there IS, but as a Coast to Coast AM/ Art Bell fan, I’ve heard enough fascinating NDE stories throughout the years. Completely load of BS from people seeking their ’15 minutes’? Perhaps, but even science has proven that energy never ends, but just transfers form. I dunno, it might be something well beyond what any of us could even imagine, much less comprehend. Guess we’ll all find out one day.

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Bruce Gerencser