Welcome to my world!

My life's been crazy since my Daddy moved in with me immediately after my mother's death in October 2010. My one and only kiddo headed to college at Carolina at the end of August. So...I lived on my own, for the first time in my life, for a total of a blissful six weeks. Then, I started the parenting gig with my dad. He's a combination of a grouchy old man, a surly teenager and a temperamental toddler. Needless to say, I get very close to the brink of insanity sometimes. I get through life by finding the humor in difficult circumstances. And for some reason, I wind up in the weirdest situations. I couldn't make this stuff up. So I wind up having lots and lots crazy adventures which make great stories to share with my friends. Writing about my life is so therapeutic. My ramblings range from funny to sad to angry (full of cuss words) to sweet. While my focus is dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a parent to my Daddy, I have lots of random, totally unrelated posts. Whatever's on my mind. I love to make people laugh, and I'm happy to think my readers will get my strange sense of humor. And maybe, people who are in my situation will be encouraged. That's all I can hope for...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Creative Catharsis

I was up at the crack of dawn today, and just happened to look out the kitchen window and saw the sunrise. So beautiful.

Suddenly I've become addicted to HGTV. Something about makeovers is infinitely interesting. The great thing is that I'm in the middle of redoing my parents' home. Mother and Daddy used to love home projects, but the last few years with their health problems, they couldn't do it any more. Consequently, their house is very dated.

They did so much for my house. They were great paper hangers, painters and fixer-uppers. And the price was right. I love my mother - she was amazing. Her arm strength and stamina were unbelievable. Much more than mine. She used to tease me and say she got more done before noon than I did all day. That was true then, but with all my new responsibilities, including my client work, and of course, The D, I'm becoming much more like Mother. I still can't hang wallpaper, but since it's not in style these days, that's no biggie.

A funny story. Mother loved to organize cabinets and drawers. She cleaned out my kitchen junk drawer. I called her to say thank you. She told me that she'd found a plastic bag filled with some sort of dried green "herb." I could tell that she thought it was Mary Jane. I said, "Mother, that is catnip!" She said she didn't think I used drugs. I could hear the relief in her voice and we had a good laugh.

I'll never forget Mother telling me that she and Daddy couldn't take on any more projects. They just weren't strong or healthy enough any longer. That was a turning point in their lives. It broke my heart.

After that, I was responsible for my own projects. I painted my living room in one day. No small feat. The project I'm proudest of is painting my hallway and making stripes with glaze. I'm gonna do that beneath the chair rail in M & D's dining room. Much smaller project, especially considering that my hallway is 30 feet long and it took me six months to finish. Off and on, of course. I'm great at starting things, but terrible at finishing them.

I remember showing Mother my finished hallway and she said, "Carol, you are so creative." She was always so affirming with me. Since I'm an affirmation junkie, you can see why I loved her so much.

Speaking of the hallway, several years before, I'd picked a nice chocolate brown paint and my parents started painting it while I was at work. Mother called me that morning and asked me if I meant to get purple paint. I told her to stop and that I'd take a look at it before they did any more work. I got home and sure enough, the hall was a muddy, icky purple color. I got the paint swatch, sure there was a mistake, and strangely, when I put my beautiful brown paint swatch up to the wall, it was the same color. I've learned the hard way that it's impossible to choose paint from the swatch.

The D was great at refinishing furniture, cutting and installing chair rails, base boards, crown molding. I used to love to find things at the raw wood furniture store and turn them over to The D. He finished my very first, little round kitchen table, with just some kind of natural oil finish. Daphne wants it. So does my housekeeper. It's great. I can't part with it even though I don't have a good spot for it now. My current kitchen table was another raw wood purchase. He painted the legs and base vanilla bean - same as my trim. He sealed the butcher block top with a natural varnish. I still love it.

He was a really great gardener. My brother bought him a greenhouse and he loved it. He'd start his tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and lots of other plants in there. His tomatoes were my favorite food in the whole wide world. He started roses from cuttings. Planted trees. One for each grandchild, complete with a tag with their names on them. So incredibly sweet. The D's way of expressing affection is by doing things for the people he loves. That's why every time he brings the garbage cans and recycling bins back from the curb or brings me the mail, it warms the cockles of my heart. He even unloads my car for me.

Kiddo came home for fall break. It turned out that he was here when Mother died. He got to see her just a few hours before she took her last breath. I warned him about how bad she was and that she wasn't conscious. I told him to talk to her anyway. When he walked into her hospital room, he had to be shocked to see her. She was so jaundiced and yellow, her tongue was hanging out, her breath was labored, and she looked dead already. I know it had to break his heart, but he didn't show it. He walked to her bedside, leaned over her and very quietly told her that he loved her. Thanked her for her generous gifts, including money to use to furnish his dorm room. He told her how much he liked his room with the things he'd bought for it with her gift. He thanked her for contributing to the cost of his trip to Europe the year before. That he was enjoying college. And one more time, that he loved her. It makes me teary just thinking of it. It was a profound moment. All of sudden, my surly teenager was a man. He was kind and compassionate to me. I barely saw him during the few days he was here, and he had to go back to school the morning of her funeral, but I was thankful that he was home to see her before she died and to go to her visitation.

Back to The D and Kiddo. I'd parked Kiddo's car (which was my brother's before he died) at my parents' house when he left for school. They were so happy that we bought it for him - so much sentimental value. I took Kiddo to their house to pick it up. Later that day, The D told him that he'd washed it for him. Once again, The D shows his love through his actions.

Daph decided that we should move the greenhouse to my yard. Great idea! I want Daddy to start gardening again. He planted pansies in my flower boxes on the front porch. He faithfully waters them. I'm already craving his tomatoes. I've tried to grow them before, with no success. Of the three tomatoes my plants produced, squirrels ate two of them. I want him to make cuttings of his beautiful pink roses for me. I know he'll love having his greenhouse here. He used to spend lots of time puttering in it.

That reminds me of another funny story. One day Mother called to tell me that there was a white van with government plates parked in front of their house. And that there was a helicopter circling overhead. She was sure the police thought The D was growing pot in his greenhouse. I guess when they saw this sweet retired couple out in their yard, their suspicions were allayed. She said she wished they had raided the greenhouse. She'd have loved seeing their faces when they encountered tomato plants, herbs (legal ones), and rose cuttings.

Back to HGTV. I had a marathon viewing this morning. I woke up at 1:30 this morning after falling asleep on the sofa last night. I couldn't go back to sleep, so started watching all the shows I recorded yesterday. The fun thing is that Daph and I are in the middle of fixing up Mother and Daddy's house to rent or sell. I bought lots of Copper Haze paint to use throughout. And tons of ceiling paint. We've hired friends to do the hard work, and I'm experimenting with painting the cabinets, striping the dining room, and buying lots of perfect, inexpensive accessories. Ross has unbelievable bargains - I love that store. I'm sure we'll get every penny out of what we spend and then some. Seeing the progress is so satisfying. I took The D over yesterday to see it. I was worried that he might not like the idea of our changing it, but it turned out that he liked it. Big relief.

Well, The D is up so I'll start my Sunday routine. Sitting in the living room with him. Reading the paper and drinking coffee. And watching CBS this morning. It's been the best weekend I've had in a very, very long time. So cathartic...

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