People tell me it all began only two years ago. To me it seems like ten years ago. People tell me I entered into this nightmare with both eyes open, actually excited and looking forward to what was to come. I can only assume they are right because the last two years have been somewhat of a haze. What, you may ask, could have caused a relatively sane woman to have gone beserko? We remodeled and added onto our home. Which perhaps would not have been so terrible except I made the regrettable decision to remain on the premises. My husband, my four children, my three dogs and my canary will probably never forgive me, not to mention the cat that disappeared the day the sheetrock went up.
Actually, it all really started six years ago when my husband had the chance to buy his childhood home.
“Oh, honey, yes, please, please, please! I love that house. Please buy it,” I begged.
(Yes, I really did beg, sorry Gloria Steinem.)
“You don’t want that house. We have a great house now. I lived in that house all my life and I know everything that is wrong with it. It would need to be re-wired, re-plumbed, and re-carpeted. It probably even has termites. It’s much smaller and much older than the one we have now and besides its more expensive. You know you don’t want a smaller and older home.” (He knew I didn’t care if it was more expensive.)
“Oh, but I do want it. I love the area, and all the trees, and the house has so much charm.” (He said Mount Vernon had a lot of charm, too, but he wouldn’t want to live there.) “I don’t care one little bit if it is smaller and the children don’t care either. They love that house, too.” The children were younger then and I could speak freely for them.
“Believe me,” he argued, “I know the minute you move in you are going to want to remodel and that is absolutely, positively out of the question.”
“Oh, how can you say that? Wrong, wrong, wrong! I promise I will never want to do one little thing to that house. I love it exactly the way it is. I will never, never change it.”
(God, how I wish he’d gotten that in blood.)
So we bought the house, and I didn’t change a thing until about two weeks before we moved in. But they were minor changes…little things, like re-wiring, re-plumbing, and re-carpeting. Little did I know, that I had not even begun to hit the big time.
We had lived in the house for about four years and I noticed how it had gotten progressively smaller and smaller. After a tad bit of urging on my part, my husband decided we should add a master bedroom downstairs. (I am still amazed at my incredible powers of persuasion.) Doing so would give the children the upstairs to themselves. It sounded great to me. Talk about convenience. I envisioned myself going upstairs about twice a year and then only to hose down and fumigate.
“You know, dear, as long as we are doing this we might think about adding a den to the house, and maybe remodel the kitchen, and gee, wouldn’t it be great if I had a laundry room upstairs instead of the basement?” (Note my further powers in play.)
That day, I think it was somewhere around May 8, 1981, my husband lost total control of the next two years.
We enlisted the aid of a contractor, had our plans drawn and got an estimate. Unfortunately, we assumed the estimate was for the entire job. We were promised that it would all be done by October. He just hadn’t specified which October.
I will never forget the first day of construction. I watched enthralled as a front loader began demolition of our back driveway, our back lawn and my mother-in-law’s beautiful, well-publicized rose garden. (see Sunday Oklahoman, Gardening Section, July 1977) No more roses, no more weeding, no more fertilizing, no more communication from my mother-in-law for a year and a half. I think by ignoring the situation she was pretending this wasn’t happening to her beautiful house.
The foundation was poured right on schedule, with one minor error. It seems our new bedroom was now a few feet longer than originally planned. However, I did not despair. I figured I could always rent it out for slumber parties, or football practices.
The next sub-contractor to appear was the carpenter. This guy was something else. He began his tenure by chasing off the roofers…I mean literally chasing off the roofers, like with a 2×4 in his hand. He would not allow any other workers to be working at the same time because he said they “bothered him when he worked”. He worked so little, though, that I was never could figure out how they could have bothered him too much. It was a real toss up as to who disliked the other most, he or I. I put up with his temper and undependability until August. We were weeks behind schedule by this time and I knew one of us had to go. My husband wouldn’t let me leave so it was goodbye carpenter… and oh yes, goodbye schedule…goodbye budget.
The kitchen remodeling was the worse. We moved our refrigerator, a microwave and a picnic table into the old dining room, where for some unfathomable reason I thought we would be able to carry on normally. Wrong. Even cooking in the microwave was immediately forgotten because there was no sink. We ate dinner out every evening. That was really great…for about three days.
New carpenters, new schedule, new budget. We were now told we could move in November. And we could have if we could have lived without carpet, floors, paint, wood trim, electricity and plumbing. November came…and went, as did December. Finally, January 15, 1983 we moved back into the house we had never moved out of. I once again had a bedroom (my husband and I had been living in the children’s playroom). We also had a new kitchen, a new den and a new laundry room. God, life was wonderful! My children, my husband, my dogs and canary are settled in.
Oh, yes, did I forget to mention the termites? They are thriving!