Fixing a hole…

The exterior excavations at Mom’s house are now underway – the interior excavations happened last January.  Over a year in planning, and preparation of the inside of the main house, and there is now a giant hole in the back where the addition for Mom’s “apartment” and the master suite for my niece DQ and her husband BJ will be built.

Mom’s been living on a bed in DQ’s living room for fifteen months.  BJ insists on doing the work himself, and Mom has already paid him for his labor, in the form of trees and dirt.  There is a massive Catch-22 on the construction side – BJ can only work on Mom’s place when he’s laid off, and collecting unemployment.  Since he’s been earning money since March, he hasn’t been able to do much with the renovation – it’s surprising that he was able to get this much done.

A photo collage of the outdoor renovations so far…

at the beginning… the view of the back.

Here comes the Tonka toys!

Putting in the forms for the footers – complete with rebar.  BJ does good work.

Cement mixer delivers and pours.

…and Mom watches the workers.  i went down to visit this weekend, and we walked the back yard.  She continued to lament that it just doesn’t seem like her house anymore.  i reminded her “It will be nicer!  Certainly nicer than a bed in DQs living room!”

Over lunch she expressed her continued concerns that it won’t be done before she dies.  BJ, after starting the work this week, has a full time job for at least the next three weeks, maybe longer.  This means that the work on the addition will have to happen at night.  But it’s deer season, so there’s that, too.

As always, i reminded her that she has options.  If the work doesn’t progress quickly enough to suit her interests, she can always offer to hire a crew to speed things up – and pay for the crew with funds received from the sale of BJ’s Huntin; and Four-Wheelin’ Paradise the land she will be giving them as payment.  Reminding them of this may be sufficient motivation to keep the work moving forward.

While we were talking, she mentioned – again – that she knows that she’s put her self in this predicament.  She then said “After I had that pacemaker put in, I was scared!  I didn’t know what I was going to do, and none of you were really paying much attention.  No one was stepping up to offer help…”

i cut her off before she could throw that little guilt-nugget across the table at Frisch’s Big Boy, and spoil my onion rings.  “Mom, we can’t read minds.  If you don’t tell us that you’re scared, that you don’t know what to do, that you need help?  We might not catch it… All i can do is try to help you sort options from where you are now.  It’s easier now that you’re telling me more of what’s going on in your head.”

We finished lunch, and i dropped her back at the Trailer Park.  She spends her days and nights on a bed in DQ’s living room.  Listens to audio books.  Watches reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show”.  Thinks about the last meal she ate.  Looks forward to her next meal.  And wonders how she ever got herself in this position…

“I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering…” – Lennon and McCartney

35 thoughts on “Fixing a hole…

    • my parents saved. they had insurance. retirement income. it should have been enough… but she made an assumption that she’d be able to live independently forever. that’s one place where it broke down.

  1. Ah, those photos have a familiar look to them …
    I virtually hugged you when I read your response to the guilt nuggets. After spending a few days with my mother’s family I’m completely filled with guilt for no logical reason whatsoever. Damn those family ties … 😉

    • i have guilt – there are things i could have, and probably should have, done differently. but it’s guilt that i identify and accept myself. i accept it… i fight the stuff that’s thrown at me. sorry you had people who tried to send you home with extra baggage!

  2. You tell your Mum she’s very lucky to have one of those swing seats – my parents had one [which I burnt down BTW but I really don’t want to talk about that] and they are GREAT fun and then give her a great big kiss from me.

    OK, now tell me about those onion rings – they sound delicious …….

    • i was glad to see the swing salvaged! there was a wooden one that probably didn’t survive – it was in bad shape. you really DO need to tell us how you burned down a swing! the onion rings? delish! light batter, deep fried, heart-stopping yumminess! *crunch*

  3. Sounds like BJ knows the “golden rule”: Always get the gold first.

    Guilt is not a four letter word, but it should be. Since I gave up the guilt trip vacation plan, my younger sister hardly speaks to me at all. Thank God.

    • i do feel bad that she’s in this situation. are there things i could have done to pre-empted it? maybe. but i’ll never really know. i have consistently offered to assist with alternatives, and for months she’s rejected every one. i tried. when she tried to throw the origins back in my lap? flag. unsportsmanlike conduct. fifteen yards…

  4. Ah, yes…the Guilt-nuggets. I know them well. They’re part of the Provocation Combo Plate. They come with a side of Regrets and a heapin’ helpin’ of Steamed Childhood Self-Esteem Issues.

    I’ll take the onion rings.

  5. There’s nothing about this situation that doesn’t drive me crazy and I don’t even know these people. (Yes, I know that sentence is all kinds of wrong, but you know what I mean.)

    • i know. i’m just as bad, just with a bit more self-awareness. they are who they are, and they will not change. they generally do not learn from one situation to the next – and Mom is the one who trained ’em up.

  6. Remind me again why we are all eating more fiber and giving up fried foods. It’s a tough sled, the olden years. Your mom seems to be handling it with all the dignity and good grace she can muster – guilt bombs notwithstanding. Those are instinct, like octopus ink. I hope I do as well.

    You have also reminded me of the weekend I rented a skid loader to move dirt around my yard for my birthday. I highly recommend it.

    • i’ve been having a run of “fuck it all” eating. mom ate horrible quantities of junk, subsisting on cigarettes, coffee and a high fat diet. why do i hurt myself? deprive myself. as for the skidloader? OH, HELLZ YEAH! i’ve got a friend with a bucket front loader, and at a pig roast once he let me move some dirt! it was a bit of heaven on earth for me…. sadly, i didn’t get to The Park before the rental equipment was returned…

  7. Do you dip your guilt nuggets in the BBQ sauce of regret, or the Sweet and Sour sauce of shame? There’s also a teriyaki sauce of self-loathing, but that’s only at participating location.

    • you could open this restaurant and make a killing. think of how much time it would save our aging baby-boomer population? you could lay it on their kids so they would be free to ski, golf and sit in bathtubs on cliffs waiting for the viagra to kick in…

  8. Getting old sucks the big one. I don’t know why, but your story reminds me of my mom when I was little. She was always complaining about her job as a secretary. I would offer a zillion alternatives (maybe not that great coming from a 12-year-old), and she would shoot them all down and keep complaining. It left me with a weird combination of feelings – pity, sadness, annoyance, frustration.

    • there are folks who complain, and are only looking for sympathy, not solutions. i have a complete lack of patience for that… and it’s showing more and more as i get old and crabby in my own way. mom has always been that way – “Don’t offer solutions, just acknowledge how much my life sucks”.

  9. My dad wants a cat or a dog and ALWAYS talks about it. But he says he simply wont because he knows he’s going to die soon (he’s in perfect health), and that he can’t trust “any of us kids” to take care of the animal properly (i.e. feed it deli meats, talk to it in strange languages, teach it to understand the remote control).

    I feel your pain.

    • welcome to the park, vodka and ground beef! mom had to put her cat down about a month ago, and has complained that she’ll never be able to get another one. i suppose that if i thought i was circling the drain, i might not get a new pet, but geez… pets make life better, and i can’t think of a time you need a pet more than when you’re circling the drain!

    • it’s a fairly recent development. up until last january, i’d get spun up like a top. not so much that i’ve got good nature. i’ve just gotten tired of the same old shit, year after year. ‘shields up’. i’ve become a NATO observer in my own family…

  10. Quick, get a picture of your house now before Google earth updates the satellite images. Maybe you can frame a before and after shot.

    Don’t forget to run the speaker and LAN cables before they put up the drywall.

    • good call on all fronts – will try to get the google earth shot for Mom, and will remind BJ that the wiring for the addition should include speaker wire… LAN? they ain’t gonna need it… it’ll be wireless most likely.

      • Wifi is great, assuming your Mom doesn’t want to stream movies through her XBox. And what about online gaming? I’m sure your Mom will be happier playing Halo and BioShock if she has a good wired connection that doesn’t bounce up and down like a cat dancing the macarena. Sure, go with wifi, but once the sun hits solar maximum and starts slamming the earth with radiation, you may wish you’d run the cable!

    • on the bright side, i have access to a nearly endless supply of venison this time of year. shame i don’t like it much (ok in chili, but that’s about it….) Shame you can’t make it into bacon!

  11. Actually, that last sentance sounds great to me! Especially if DQ = Dairy Queen.

    Other than that – the guilt thing really starts to piss me off in a big way. Family makes me all jacknicholsony.

    • you’re a funny lady! no, “DQ” stands for “Drama Queen”… i’ve developed a bad case of “guilt intolerance”, and it’s working ok most of the time…

    • i think when i hit 70 or 75, i’m going to take up every bad habit i can think of, and smoke, drink and speedball my way to the finish line! hope i’ve got the energy for it, and my eyesight holds out!

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