Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bleep My Dad Does

Dad rolled into town as usual – with little advance notice and no end date given, with only promises that it will be many weeks from now and, of course, with the utter certainty that such a visit doesn’t require permission on my part. When I get home tonight I can expect to see the guest bedroom furniture rearranged in the manner which he likes it, new food products will have taken up residence in my fridge and, if I’m lucky, he’ll cut back on the barrage of “Why don’t you do things this way? The right way?” sort of questioning that has become less frequent, though certainly not yet extinct, additions to his stays.

Not that I don’t love his 1,200-mile drive drop-ins. In fact, I enjoy his company and I love how him taking charge around here means that tons of much-needed home improvement work gets done … though when I came home one day last October to find that my guest bathroom was completely ripped out and discarded as trash onto a tarp in my back yard I have to admit that even a head’s up to prepare me for this would have been appreciated. While, thanks to him, that bathroom is now completely renovated and is, arguably, the most attractive room in our house, I can’t say that it didn’t come without lots of hard work, lost free time and a hefty chunk of change that is now missing from my pocketbook.

That’s why, when he told me that on this visit he planned the same demolished fate for our other guest bathroom, I had to put the brakes on pretty fast. Not that I don’t have the energy for doing that sort of massive overhaul times two, or that we don’t have the desire for this oh-so-attractive Formica and linoleum albatross to meet its overdue demise. We do. We really, really do. What we don’t have, however, is the dough required to put it back together again. Despite the many home improvement shows on the air that tout the simplicity, quickness and relatively low-cost manner of tackling any DIY job in your home, it can be – how shall I put this? – just a little more tricky (not to mention pricey) than a 48-hour home makeover show on HGTV would like you to believe. It takes a lot of clams. Benjamins. Buckaroos. And with a wedding, not to mention an awesome honeymoon, to pay for (in addition to rent, food and all those other silly little living expenses), we just can’t afford it right now. Nonetheless, breaking the news to Dad was hard … on him. You see, he needs an excuse to use our house as his own personal snowbird cottage. Without payment of blood, sweat and curses (never tears – Dad responds to pain in a more angrily verbal manner), how can he justify leaving Mom behind in Michigan for weeks at a time so that he can play golf and enjoy that sunlight the great state of Florida is known for having?

But then a revelation hit him. Or, rather, it hit me – literally. While removing a t-shirt from my poorly constructed closet one morning the entire rack of clothing it was resting upon decided to break free from the wall and land right on top of me. As the closet rack liberated itself from the burden of clothing, I found that this load was now placed squarely on my back as I tried to displace this attire into other closets, all of which seemed in the same unstable condition. Seeing the perfect opportunity to help (and to escape from the cold), Dad constructed a vision for redoing our storage space into a more organized, customized, California Closet-style heaven. A nice complicated, expensive storage unit for all my very valuable Target and Forever 21 treasures. And he wants us to build it. All. From scratch. While I’ve never seen the need for prettying up the one space in your house that other people are least likely to ever see, I did resolve to get organized this year and certainly this is progress.

So, I’m sure I’ll soon come home to find all my unmentionables unceremoniously ransacked and spread out on my bed while Dad has taken up residence in the now-empty closet where he’s knee-deep in spackle, measuring tape and wood samples (and that’s if I don’t get a phone call from my Mom first telling me that I should shop writing this and be thankful for all his hard work). I am Mom. Very thankful. Hand me a paintbrush and I’ll jump onboard. And I’ll try to find a second or two to type out a quick update for you to hear how it’s going.

Consider this the "before" shot of our disaster area.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer told me that I needed to read this post. She said it was really funny, and that I could totally relate. She was correct on both counts.

    Our situation is a little different. We live in a parsonage, which means that I am supposed to clear said projects in advance before they are done. Some projects are determined upon arrival by the father-in-law, and done without our approval, instead of working on it beforehand. Also, other than a few cans of paint,we really bear no expense.

    Often, like you, there is short notice. Often it is sometime during winter in Michigan, though it can be any season.

    There is very little grumbling during said project. Instead, it is like there is a certain sense of eagerness that goes into the work. Followed by a generous portion of self-congratulation on Rich's part, and a analysis of how the work could have been better on Norma's.

    The stuff with the fridge sounds familiar. For any of the parents that come except for maybe Kris.

    There are also gentle hints that said projects would not need to be done if I was the man, provider, and caretaker that I should be. And since I work at home or next door, while Jen works 45 minutes away, I am present more when any of the parents come.

    We now pre-plan projects for parents when they arrive. When we get baby furniture we set it in the nursery, knowing that grandparents will eagerly assemble whatever we need them to. We decide the next room we want painted before family arrives, just in case they are looking for a project. They are retired. They like to be helpful. We can accomadate. And if we work hard enough, we can come up with a plan before they jump in with plans of their own.

    It gives me great peace to know that we are not alone in these experiences, and that so much of what we experience is woven in to the complex mixture of genetics and shared experience that Rich and Jerry share. Thanks for making me smile