Jeezus ... it's been a week since I sat down to this. I haven't been hiding, or any lazier than usual; just busy and a little overwhelmed. Let me tell you why.
My father died just over a year ago. it was Halloween day, a Saturday. He'd been struggling with a form of Parkinson's and not enjoying life much. But he'd had a couple of good days; slept well, enjoyed his meals, and it was only an hour till a full day of college football kicked off. He sat in his easy chair, pushed it back to full-recline, closed his eyes, and left our world. I'll tell you about him sometime.
My mother, who had been stricken with dementia of a sudden type just that year, and was bed-ridden with a broken hip, was nearly unaware of his passing. The live-in care-giver had left only days before and a fill-in had the sad job of calling the family. A lot changed at that moment. It was suddenly clear that we had to find a place for Mom, and after a search, did just that. She has now been happily settled in a family-run home for eleven months. I'll tell you about her sometime too.
And all that time, our family home - the house where we all grew up - has been sitting vacant. It costs more money for my mother's care than her social security can cover, so we've been in the red every month. We, my sisters and brothers and I, knew that we would eventually have to rent the place out. She isn't coming home. We came to it slowly, but finally got the important stuff stored - antiques, heirlooms - and let the siblings take what each wanted.
That's a funny process. None of us is very materialistic, and anyway, my Folks never were, so there was nothing of particular, objective value. We took things that for some reason meant something to us. Little things mostly. My younger brother asked to have a very old, and never expensive flour sifter. It's the old kind with a trigger handle that causes a scraper to scuff back and forth across a curved screen busting up lumps and making the flour perfect for baking. I guess my mom let him man that machine when she baked at Christmas time and he was a little boy. He took it home happily. One of my sisters searched in vain for the only thing she really wanted, an old steel comb that my dad had for years, a shiny utilitarian thing we all remembered and assumed was still around. She remembered standing behind his chair as a little girl, combing his thick dark hair with that metal comb. I was sorry that we couldn't find it. I took his casual jacket. The two of us had shopped one cold fall day eight years ago, and liked the same one. We bought two of them, his a bit smaller than mine. It's the jacket I'm wearing on the cover of "A Little Farther Down the Line". I later lost mine. Now I have his. It's still too small, but I'll shrink a little.
A lot of it, kitchen items, small appliances, some office gear, a couple of televisions and Mom and Pop's matching Armoires were left. Last weekend we held a yard sale. We stuck little stickers on the things we'd grown up with, collected dimes and dollars, and sent them off with strangers. I don't like things much. Mostly I try to avoid buying anything that I can't make music with, but I felt a pang or two. Oh ... the Pyrex measuring cups. Oh, the living room lamps. Oh. Oh. Oh.
That was last Saturday. All five of us were there. Since then, I've been there alone each day. The job now is to ready the house for a tenant. So I am painting the interior, thirty-two hours so far. Today I finished his bedroom and her bedroom, I did them as a pair, and the hall that connects them. First the washing, then off with the hardware, then scraping and sanding the windows, patching wall cracks, putting a coat of primer on the woodwork. Finally I covered the colors they had each picked last time I painted there. And they are gone from those rooms. Now a lovely, subtle color scheme, cozy and neutral, awaits whoever comes to live there. It'll take me another week; there's a lot more house to make even more vacant. But the hardest part is done.
That's Enough, Dave