Step 2 of my journey
I’m writing this December 11, 2011
George—I love you dearly, but you failed me, but not in the way you might think. You made life so easy for me around the house. There are days like I feel like I am in victim mode—placing blame where it doesn’t belong, simply because I don’t have a clue about so many things around the house. I’ve begun to think of our home as a machine, much like a car, that needs certain things to operate efficiently.
I never knew there were so many responsibilities that came with home ownership. The bottom line is that I now know how much work our house is, and I also have a greater appreciation for all you did for me and the kids throughout your lifetime. Still, I feel sad for my naivety, and remorseful for not shadowing you here and there. *sighs* This house is SO MUCH WORK.
The good news is that our kids found a wonderful boutique real estate company, Parallel Realty and Parallel Companies. They’re a small local company, with a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of real estate. Their broker is also a licensed General Contractor, and offers maintenance services on top of that! They only have a few employees, and really make me feel like they are here for me now, as well as when I’m ready to sell this monstrous house down the road. They have a wonderful monthly Senior Life Management maintenance service, and provide everything ala carte. Our kids do the tasks they have time for and interest in, and Parallel picks up the pieces from there.
George, little did I know that there were different sizes of furnace filters! For some silly reason, I didn’t piece together that a humidifier and a dehumidifier weren’t one and the same. Oh, and here are some other things I’ve discovered with the help from the Parallel maintenance team (oh, so worth the $97 monthly!) in the last seven months:
- When the garbage disposal gets a rag stuck in it, you take the little L-shaped thing, put it in the bottom, and jiggle it while another person pulls on the rag. Voila! The rag comes loose, and there’s a button to reset the disposal.
- When a garbage disposal isn’t working, it backs up into the dishwasher, making a total mucky food mess!
- There’s liquid that you can put in the dishwasher door that serves the same purpose of the little hanging basket—both keep spots away!
- Did you know that furnace filters come in 30+ sizes, and that some are $1, and others are over $15. The hardware guy was kind enough to tell me the cheaper ones are better for older furnaces, and he saves me tenfold over what I would have purchased.
- I never knew that we had a water softener. Over the years, I would see you lug huge yellow bags to the basement, but never asked what they were for. I assumed that water was water. Go figure!
- Other things that seemed to just “happen” were the seasonal things—the patio furniture coming out for the season, the garden being tilled, the lawn aerated and bushes trimmed, the driveway sealed.
- I haven’t even mentioned things like changing out 9-volt batteries on the smoke and radon detectors seasonally, or trying to climb on a chair to change a lightbulb so I don’t have to get a ladder out of the garage.
- One day, I decided to pull out the fridge, and tweaked my back, all because I knew you would vacuum the coils a few times a year (one of the FEW things I knew about when you were alive.)
There are so many things I need help with, and now I am more than willing to pay for the services. There are two guys who come from Parallel each month—sometimes alone, and sometimes together. They’ve tailored a package just for our home, and it only costs $97 for the package I selected, and that also includes an hour of maintenance of my choice (and will work longer at $55/hr when we need it too!)
A few weeks ago, I had two of their workers bring the 10’ tree down from the attic, string the outdoor holiday lights, and bring in enough firewood to last me until one of the boys come home for Christmas. They’re so kind!
Each month, they walk the exterior of the property, check for repair needs, and then come inside and do their standard work, all before they kick into gear and work for an hour on the projects I want done. Honestly, I think that if I said I wanted to pay them to drop the car at the dealership and have snow tires put on, they would do it for their $55 hourly fee!
There are days where I wonder if you know what I’m writing. I hope you are growing to know that it’s cathartic for me. I also want you to know that all four kids—Mike, John, Cathy and Barb have all helped me through this first transitional phase. We raised some great kids, that’s for sure! I’m thinking I will continue writing as there are more transitions over the next few years. Maybe it will help others understand how to age in place gracefully, the way I feel I will be able to do. Please know I’m really grateful now, recognizing the countless hours you put into preventative and routine maintenance.
I love our century old home, just as I have loved you.