Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:51AM - 404 Views

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There are beautiful homes and barns throughout the region. Their majesty overwhelms you as you drive by them.

Then there are those other properties. You see how wonderful they once must have been. Something happened along the way, and neglect and ambivalence ruined them.

When I see these 100-plus-year-old dilapidated properties rotting along the roadway, I wonder what happened. Behind every broken window, ripped-off piece of siding or collapsed roof, I figure thereís a story behind it.

I imagine most of those damages werenít so bad when they started. They probably started with something minor, such as a little bit of chipped paint or a single piece of siding blown off.

The first bit of damage didnít seem so so bad, probably. It could have been fixed rapidly, but thatís when the first wrong decision occurred. Someone decided to let it slide. People get busy. Maybe they had something else in mind for the money. They just accept thatís how it looked now.

Thatís where the deterioration begins. Skipping the first repair leads to ignoring the second repair, then the third, then the fourth. Before long, things are in shambles. Youíre so overwhelmed by what needs to be done that you question if itís even worthwhile. In many cases, you decide itís not.

Then something beautiful becomes something ugly.

I thought about this recently not just because Iím a history buff who loves old structures but because I am a fault-filled man with more former friends and acquaintances than current ones. My guess is youíre probably the same.

Every so often, Iíll think about some great friend in the past and wonder why that friendship withered and faded. Much like those houses and barns, the answer is usually neglect.

There was some minor event that happened, whether it was a disagreement or someone moving. For a while, you stayed in contact, so the damages didnít seem so bad. It could have been fixed right away if you only talked about it or put a little more effort into making those repairs. Instead, you let it slide. People get busy. Maybe you had something else in mind for your time. You just accepted thatís how the friendship was now.

And thatís when the deterioration really begins in our relationships. Skipping the first repair leads to ignored the second repair, then the third, then the fourth. Before long, your friendships are in shambles.

Then something beautiful becomes something ugly.

I admire people with lifelong friends. Theyíve put the time and energy into making that relationship work. They understand itís not always easy, and you occasionally have to spend some time doing maintenance work so a little chink in the wall doesnít eventually lead to the roof collapsing.

Iím even more impressed by longtime married couples. Itís so easy to put the outside world first and those closest to you last. Iíve only been married six and a half years, and Iíve already seen how hard that can be with a world that demands so much of your time and attention. Itís not easy to maintain things.

Springtime is traditionally a time for home maintenance and repair. Things come back alive in Ohio after a dormant winter. I hope people make the same efforts to mend their relationships and they do their landscapes.

Neglect and ambivalence are no oneís friend.

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