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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

The “great walled” fortress


Looking at home prospects in the desert, it was hard not to be put off by what we came to call, “the great walled fortress” gates. In a development that prizes uniformity, the opening area of this home was not only gated; the bars had spikes at the top.


While viewing the home over several months, I began to wonder about the inhabitants that would have felt a need for this type of security. Perhaps they had been robbed. Perhaps they were victims of random trauma. Perhaps, like so many, they had simply gone down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and were protecting themselves from “government take over”.


Friends who viewed the house online had similar thoughts, especially if, as one couple did, they drove by the home. No one…not one house, had anything similar. But we loved the inside and felt the gates could be removed after purchase.


Our local cat sitter who came one day to make acquaintance with the cats and our home remarked about it. When I told her that not one home in the development had anything similar, she said, “Honey, not one home in all of Green Valley has anything like that.” She, too, postulated that the owners must have been the victims of property crime to feel such a need for security.


A local iron works company would be coming to give us a quote for removing this “Great Wall,” so we stopped at their shop, as we were getting a new screen door as well. The lady behind the counter encouraged us to take a seat and look through books of previous works from which we might get ideas. About three pages in, I saw it. A picture of our house, complete with the spikes. We were in the business that had turned the previous owner’s vision into reality.


I showed the clerk. “Tomorrow, we are going to have to tell your owner that he now gets to remove those bars,” I joked.


“They are very forbidding,” she answered, and her response made me feel like she understood why we needed to have them removed.

We felt like such an intimidating entry might send the wrong message about our spirits and our hearts and could not wait to “un-identify” with the coldness of those bars.


In the morning hours before the iron works owner was to arrive, I took out some boxes to my car and was greeted by a lovely woman wearing a t-shirt celebrating the virtues of kindness. She asked if we were the new neighbors, and after chatting a few moments, I told her we were taking down the “Great Wall”.


“It’s so unfriendly, it seems. I wonder if the previous owners had been victims of some crime?”.


“Oh, no,” she said in her thick French Polynesian accent, “The wife had Alzheimer’s, and she would try and run away. Her husband petitioned the HOA to get special permission to put them up. He wanted to be with her in their home as long as he could. He took loving care of her for years. The next owners just left them up.”


And there it was…


Those bars were not to keep criminals out; they were to keep love in.


Yesterday, I couldn’t wait to get those bars removed. Yesterday, my perceptions of them were soaked in misassumptions. Yesterday, I misjudged motives and hearts, especially my own.


Now I look out the front window at those bars, and I feel a sense of sadness. Yes, there will be more light in the entry. Yes, future guests will not be greeted by iron spikes and bars. But there was and is a story there that will go untold now…a story of love and loss that is common to us all.


And I almost missed it.


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