Step 3 of my journey
I’m writing this April 19, 2013
I found this picture from spring of 1999—so little, but so much has changed since then!
The winter wasn’t kind to me, my dear George. While I’ve put Parallel’s home maintenance and home management services in place, there are inevitably things I think I can do on my own. You see, I’ve gained a bit of confidence in tackling the smaller tasks. In the end, I realized it wasn’t a savvy decision.
It was drizzling a bit in late February—actually a fairly nice day at 46 degrees, but we had just enough of a temp drop for it to re-freeze overnight. I’d written out a birthday card for one of the grandkids, and saw the mail carrier approaching the house. I grabbed a stamp and tried to race to greet him as he was putting the mail in our box.
Darned if I didn’t take maybe five steps outside when I discovered that the front stair had gotten just icy enough that I lost my balance. WHOOSH, my arms and legs were flailing, and I landed on the ground! (Remember the corner where we had to have the sidewalk jacked up a bit? It was that same spot.) The greeting card went flying, the mailman rushed up to me and tried to help me up.
In my rush to say I was OK, he insisted in helping me inside nonetheless. Well, good thing, because I looked like Bambi in the ice scene in the movie! I couldn’t get my bearings, and suddenly had sheer pain shooting down my left thigh. Instinctively, I said to him, “I think I’ve broken something. My cordless phone is in the kitchen. Will you call for an ambulance?”
Well fast forward a few hours, I’d been in the ER, had answered a ton of medical questions, questioned about my ability to live independently, who helps with day-to-day chores, whether I had family to look after me, did I have private pay insurance, what Medicare plan or plans I might be on…and oh, so much more, only to be told my left hip was indeed broken, that I would need some rods and pins, that I had osteoporosis and would need to go to rehab after surgery.
The next few days were a whirlwind—our children and grandkids coming and going from the hospital. Mike and Cathy making arrangements with my treasured guys at Parallel Co. to put Moen grab bars in the bathroom (I’ve found those were the prettiest) to change out the tub to a Safe Step walk-in shower, to adjust the temp on the hot water heater to prevent burns, to change out from a gas to an LG infrared electric range at Lowe's, and so much more!
In short, it was one of those times where I look back at your logic and commitment to estate planning, paying off our home when we were younger, and never using it as collateral, even in the tougher times. Last month, I paid $55 for an extra hour with the handyman, and he gave me a room-by-room bookleton things to think about when making safety and accessibility modifications. In the past two months, I’ve done about $40,000 in remodels, and there’s more yet to come. Before the summer is over, we will be installing a small concrete ramp to replace the two little stairs that run from the driveway to the porch.
The kids are still trying to talk me into taking part of the basement storage room, about 1/3 of the three season porch, to give me “aging in place” access via a small elevator, to everything except for the upstairs bedrooms and bath. I think it’s overkill! As soon as I’m out of the physical therapy rehabilitation center, I can easily get around the main floor if the kids will just help with the laundry until I can navigate stairs again.
So for now, I’m going to do what I need to do to make the house accessible, without making it look like it’s “only” for someone who is handicapped. I know that may sound bad, but I have high hopes of making the features as appealing as possible. They assure me that everything from door handles to a single handled bathroom sink faucet, to plantings around the new ramp that are aesthetically pleasing.
It will be nice to be home—I’m scheduled to be done with physical therapy next week. The kids and grandkids are already making plans for planting my garden this year, and have grand plans for a “monster” lemonade stand, so it should be a fun summer.
It’s been nearly two years, and I’m finally getting used to the idea of living out the rest of my life here without you. Dear George, I should tell you—this summer, your lawn will look better than ever. Because of my hip, I caved in and hired a service. Just one more step in me admitting to myself that a home is a lot of work, but well worth it!