Since we live in an old home, we have plenty of fix-it jobs around here, so I thought it would be a worthy topic for my Friday blogs. Yesterday didn’t have a theme because I thought, “Do people really want a theme for every day, or would they enjoy a random rambling from me from time to time?” I thought about using ‘Thoughtful Thursday’ since my kids are quite thoughtful most days, but that hasn’t been happening a whole lot around here lately, so I’m putting that thought on the back burner! As an introduction to this topic, I thought I’d share how our residency in this home came to be. It is a complete God story that has to be told.
My grandmother, in her aging years, was having a harder time living home alone. She didn’t mind it one bit, but it worried her children. She wasn’t eating as well as she should be and personal hygiene was becoming more and more difficult for her since the range of motion in her arms was becoming more limited. She was quite healthy, and she was not a fan of visiting doctors. She did start having problems with her knees, and her feet turned out terribly, making it difficult to move. However, she fought my mom on getting and using a wheel chair or scooter, and she preferred her walker above any other option. She also was a very trusting and naive woman, so she would open her door to anyone, which isn’t always smart when you are 80-something with limited mobility. Her home had been broken into once, at which time my uncle had an alarm system installed. She used three areas in her home regularly- her bedroom, her chair in her living room, and the bathroom. That’s it, and this is a big house. It’s total square footage is 2200 sq ft, with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a basement that is half-finished, half-unfinished. So, a couple of years ago, as our family continued to grow in our 1100 sq ft house, I had a bright idea. Why don’t we move into the basement, fix up the house (since very little had been done to it over the years), and be some security for her? Then, when she is ready, she can move into a more appropriate residence for her age and limitations and we can buy her house for our quickly growing family. So, I write her this precious, moving letter with my grand idea, since letter writing is her thing, and wait for her response. While waiting, I’m sketching floor plans and ideas for fixing up the house, changing the floor plan around a little, and picking where I will put the school room. She calls me one day and says “Your letter was so sweet. But I’m never leaving this house. I want to die in this house and I don’t really want anyone living here with me” in the sweetest, most loving Grandma voice. If you knew her, you can hear her say this. She had the sweetest way of being stubborn and making you feel loved, all the while! So I accepted her rejection, and I tucked those sketches in a book, hoping one day she’d change her mind. Our family continued to grow, she continued to age, and then one day, as I came across those sketches, I had a realization with God. Every day in our little home, I lived by the mantras “When we move into a bigger house…” and “If we only had more space…” I decided in that moment that I had to learn to be content with the blessings God was giving to me and trust that He had a plan to work out the rest. He wasn’t going to give us more children than we had room for. He would provide. So I threw those sketches away, completely content with the thought that we would never move into that house where my mom and her four siblings were raised and my grandmother now lived, alone, in probably a sixteenth of the space available. The time between then and where we are now was tough for us, but I continued to be content and trust. I say now that I don’t think I realized how hard it was in the moment. It wasn’t until we moved and I looked back that I saw how insane life was for us! Blessed, but insane! I have friends with one or two children in the same space feeling crunched and eager for a change in the economic crisis so they can upsize, where we lived with six children in that space!
Flash forward to January of this year, the month my grandmother moved into assisted living. She didn’t like the idea one bit, and she made sure her kids knew it! However, this was the best move for her with her limited mobility. Once she made the move, she was so happy! She loved where she lived and felt like she was placed there to love the women who took care of her, listen to their stories about their families, and loan them a magazine from time to time! When she made her move, however, she didn’t want to even talk about what to do with the house for at least six months. I had completely let go of the idea of moving into the house, and our financial situation wasn’t exactly what it should be to buy a house. Add the market crash and a home in an area where the schools were in a crisis, and selling our home wasn’t even a recognizable dream. But I threw it out there. I asked Superman one night what he thought about asking about the house again. He didn’t seem thrilled, but he was supportive. I found out later that he hated the thought of going through the hope of having more space only to be disappointed by rejection again, but he wanted whatever would make my life easier (yep, that’s why I call him Superman!). So three months after her move, my mom asked her about it. She took her time, eased her into the idea, and finally convinced my grandmother to allow us to rent her house. My grandmother was so sweet. She worried about all the work we would need to do to it and didn’t want us to be bothered with it. (There are so many days I get why she was so worried!) But, she ultimately agreed, and at the same time, I was approached about returning to the preschool at our church to teach a homeschool co-op class for first graders. All my kids could go, including S1, who is technically a second grader, and the pay minus tuition for the kids after my teacher and sibling discounts was going to be almost exactly the cost of rent in this home, should we find ourselves without a tenant for our home. It was all laid out by Him. I know it was. We didn’t plan on having a tenant immediately because our own home needed some attention and repair, but God provided there, too! My cousin was looking to increase her square footage, and she has tons of friends who are handy. She’s done more work to that house in five months than we did in probably five years! She moved in before we were even ready! Everything happened so fast!
Three weeks after our move, we realized why. My grandmother passed away suddenly on Father’s Day of this year. Her caregivers had to send her to the hospital after noticing a change, which wouldn’t have happened had she been in this big house, alone. The doctor discovered some bleeding ulcers that we didn’t know about because Grandma didn’t go to the doctor, and he warned my mother that it may have been too much for her heart to handle, even if they did manage to control the bleeding. They controlled the bleeding and did some transfusions, but her heart couldn’t take it. So, we said goodbye to my grandmother before we had even emptied half of our boxes in her house. She had not even returned to her home for a visit since her move. It all seemed so fast and unexpected. Yet that was the way Grandma would have preferred it. She wouldn’t have wanted to endure an illness, and as sweet as she was, she had that stubborn streak. She would not have been a good patient! I had a chance to visit her that morning, now that we lived in the area. I heard at church that she had to be taken to the hospital, so on our way home, Superman dropped me by the hospital to check in on her. She just kept saying she was so glad we were in the house. We had no air conditioning, so it was warm in June, and she worried over that, saying “I know it’s hot as Hell!” She never used such language, so I had to chuckle. I had a funny feeling as I visited her because she was speaking with this “arrangment” kind of concern, telling my mom “Make sure you keep the termite treatments up to date” and things along those lines. I went home, we went over to my mom’s to cook steaks and go for a swim, and as we sat at the table, we got the phone call. Superman and the kids stayed at Mom’s, while Dad, Mom, and the rest of the family went to the hospital. I came home that night by myself to absorb what happened, while Mom and Dad let SM and the kids stay there for the night. They were asleep by the time we left the hospital anyway. I am amazed at God’s timing. We found out shortly after Grandma agreed to let us move here that we were expecting S7. I can’t imagine recieving that news in our little 1100 sq ft home. It might have sent me over the edge! Yet here we are, at 34 weeks, with a nursery for the baby for the first time since S2 was born. S3, S4, S5, and S6 didn’t have such a priviledge. Yes, I realize an infant having their own room isn’t necesssary, but it sure does make life easier. Believe me, we’ve done it both ways, so we know! It’s all because of God’s timing. A good friend of hers offered me some comforting words by phone the night she passed. He mentioned to me how happy she was that there would be the pitter-patter of little feet running down those halls again, which is funny to me because as a mother of five children, she worried every time I told her we were pregnant again. Believe me, there isn’t much pitter-pattering going on here! It’s more of a stampede! I know she’s smiling, though. Especially since her decision allowed her to ‘help’ God carry out His plan for us.
So, that’s the story of our “new” old home. That also explains a little why I will have plenty to share on Fix-it Fridays!