The last thing I wanted to do was come to Columbia and “hang out”. My summer is short enough and there is too much that has to get done to put my mom’s home on the market.
All my previous attempts to get the house “show ready” have been questioned and resisted by my father. My sister Bess had given me the impression that dad just wasn’t ready yet. I was inclined to agree. However, when he came up to DC and I started talking about sticking around DC so I could help Mary out more, he got this panicked look on his face. I broke down and told him I would ride back to South Carolina with him and bought a plane ticket back to DC from Atlanta. He reassured me that he was determined and ready to sell the house. In the end, I felt like I just needed to do whatever my father needed me to do. It also gives me the opportunity to catch up with my friends in Atlanta.
Coming back to mom’s house was harder than I expected. Her things are still everywhere as is her scent and so many memories. I’m one of those people who finds comfort in purpose, so I just plowed through and started getting busy.
I made “To Do” lists for dad, myself and the painter. I walked with the painter through the house talking about all the different areas and colors I was thinking about. I also mentioned taking down all the blinds on the basement and main levels so we could open up the view of the lake. In my opinion, this is where the value in my parent’s home lies. I also contacted a window consultant to talk about window treatments for the Master Bedroom and possibly the kitchen. I talked with dad about how we needed to lay out our shopping days to buy things like bedding for the Master Bedroom, rugs and fixtures to update the house and make it look fresher.
I should have known my dad’s “promises” of being ready were too good to be true. During my tour with the painter, dad mysteriously disappeared. When he finally reappeared, all he did was question everything I was telling the painter. Then he was almost petulant as he said, “Do whatever! I’m not going to live here anymore!”
Suddenly and finally, I realized: My dad is not ready. I had to really fight my feelings of disappointment and stubbornness and think about the bigger picture. I don’t want to do anything that is going to hurt his feelings or jeopardize our relationship. I also realized that part of my disappointment was in not being able to make mom’s house as pretty as it could be. This was her project. Her masterpiece. In the past few years, for various reasons, it had become outdated and unkept. It breaks my heart not to do more. At some point, I must accept the fact that I needed to stop. I will of course be as helpful as my father needs/wants me to be, but I do not want to bulldoze him anymore.
Relinquishing mom’s house to dad was difficult but necessary. I cancelled the window consultation and told dad he needed to inform the painter if he wasn’t planning to do any painting before he was charged anything. I am now in “hang out” mode. I let him know I love him and I’m here for him and I am no longer going to try to change mom’s house anymore.
I told dad I wanted to go visit mom’s grave later that day. He wanted to buy some flowers, but it’s over 100 degrees and sunny. I managed to convince him to let me buy some silk flowers. Hopefully the grave caretakers won’t remove them right away. I picked up 3 hydrangea: Blue, green, and pink. God I miss her. I wish I could have done this for her in the worst way, but I can’t bear to upset my father anymore.
Until next time…