Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Under Construction

Yesterday had already been a long day.

HOB had gone to Tennessee this past weekend to tell his mom that he was leaving our marriage. After he left her house, she called me and we had a good cry-fest on the phone. For thirty years I have been her daughter-in-law. She told me I always would be.

I went to school and paraded my first class to the computer lab for an intense lesson on research and documentation. Two minutes after they sat behind the computers, the electricity went out.

Somehow it felt personal.

The day went downhill from there.

As most of you know, just after HOB left, I discovered there was a slow, steady leak in our of the pipes behind the wall of the bathroom. It ruined the carpeting in one of the bedrooms. My friend and I ripped it up. A plumber came over and fixed the leak but said things were a mess in the attic.

I had been working with my insurance agency to get the water/mold guys over. There's too much detail to go into here, but there were several setbacks. Finally, the woman at the insurance agency said, "Just say 'Emergency Service' and they will get there."

I did. They came last night at 7:00pm.

Two twenty-something guys showed up. I led them to the attic crawl space where I thought they would just look, sprinkle some magic powder and then leave.


They stopped by the bathroom first and pointed to the ceiling. It was starting to sag from water and wet insulation in the attic. They inspected the rest of the bathroom and bedroom.

Then they gave me the news: The vanity is probably ruined and will have to be removed. The flooring in the hall will have to go. They may have to tear down the wall between the two rooms. There may be lead and asbestos in the wall so they have to test that first before ripping a hole in it The wallboard in the hallway is wet. There is water in the closet in the bedroom.

They were very nice guys and pointed these things out very professionally, running little hand-held sensors across the walls and floors, showing me how the light turned from green to red when it sensed moisture.

I stood, nodding, trying not to lose it, but finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. Tears welled up in my eyes, and like the crazy lady I am quickly becoming, I blurted out in a high voice, "About four weeks ago, my husband asked me for a divorce and he left and ever since then the house has just been falling apart!" I started sobbing (just a little).

These poor guys both stood stock still and silent, unsure of what to do. Handling hysterical middle-aged ladies is probably not in their training manuals. For just a minute I thought they were going to run the little moisture sensor across my eyes. It would have started beeping and flashing red immediately.

Now here's the really sad, pathetic part.

After I blurted this out, one of the guys said, "Well, we'll be here..."

He paused to look around the room and my mind latched on to those four words.

My mind raced ahead and I felt happy for a split second. Yes! These men will be here! These men won't need their "freedom" and won't just walk out when the going gets tough! They will stick around and work on things and clean up messes and they will take care of me and stay with me even as I fall apart.

Then he finished his sentence.

"...for at least five to seven days."


"Yeah," he said, "It's a big job. It's going to take some time."

Tell me about it.

So now, I have about seven giant fans in the bathroom area and a huge dehumidifier in the hallway.

My house is facing major construction work.

My life is facing the same.

Maybe I can somehow get a Two-For-One Special.

Additional Note: At one point in the evening, in order to soothe the crazy lady, one of the guys tried to make small talk and asked about the adjoining bedrooms and if my children were home. I looked at him, my eyes welling up once again, and said, "No, both of my sons left for college last month." "Oh," he said, "Well, they'll be back before you know it." "One of them moved all the way to Virginia!" I blurted out. Suddenly he had a cell phone call he had to answer. (Funny, I didn't hear the ring....)

When they were leaving, I asked if they would be the ones coming back to finish the job. They both quickly said they weren't sure.

Something tells me they won't be.


Hilary said...

The brighter side is that once all of this horribly inconvenient work is done, your affected rooms and hallways will be repainted, re-floored and rejuvenated. Make the home yours.. that colour you always wanted that he can't live with. Rearrange rooms. It's a symbolic start to make the best of and rebuild from what has crumbled.

I wish I could help.. I don't even have a cell phone to answer. ;)

Out on the prairie said...

I'm with Hilary, the rebuild will all be yours. Was the vanity the one that took forever to get put in? Now you van pick out a new one.I'm fickle when choosing paint colors so I would need lots of time to decide.i have enjoyed doing lots of tear out and repairs.My best was taking a chainsaw to my house to make bigger openings for windows.I think my neighbors thought I had maybe lost it a bit.LOL

Teresa Evangeline said...

It's so symbolic of what is happening, a chance to rebuild, to make the house your own. It may be mirroring your life, but it's also ripe with possibility, as are you. What a strong, incredibly thoughtful and beautiful woman you are.

Tabor said...

Maybe someday this can be an "eat pray love" bestseller, because you certainly are getting your share of challenges this year. If the writing helps that is some consolation. I can just picture this young men feeling intimidated and helpless in front of a crying woman. Just a little funny.

Old Kitty said...

Oh BB!!!!! Well it's about time these young men know of real life not just the level of moisture between walls!

So there!

You're doing just fine!! You're doing great! You hang on in there - in a week's time your home will be back up on its feet - all dry and moisture free!!!!

Take care BB! x

Empty Nester said...

Geez girl, when it rains it sure DOES pour. And I see the symbolism but it still just flat out sucks. I imagine this is the kind of symbolism you'd rather do without.

But it will all get better in time. The house and life in general.

Meanwhile, lean on your friends, your sisters, your blog buddies. We all love you!

Unknown said...

This is your test of strength and you WILL GET THROUGH IT. I'm dealing with my own here right now in a different way and I'm learning patience, breathe, and vent to a good friend who listens. We will get over this hurdle and we're going to look back and laugh someday. RIGHT? Hugs, from one BB to another BB.

john said...

BB - Quit being hard on yourself. Your reaction was NOT "really sad and pathetic". It was normal. It was natural. It's how you are 'wired'. "Political Correctness" be damned ; it's a fact.
This IS an opportunity [dontcha just hate it when someone says a huge pain is an opportunity?] to do the bathroom and adjoining room floor coverings and wall colour in a style and hue solely to your liking. However, xHOB needs to be told to man up and help out - his name is on the title too...

Talli Roland said...

Oh Betty, you know what I love? That in the midst of all of this, I can still see your wonderful spirit and wit shining through in this post. Hang onto that - it's obviously still there, despite everything!


Leah J. Utas said...

Hilary is right. I say this is the Universe helping you construct a new life from the old.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh! Hey, those guys have probably seen their moms fall apart at some point.
Hope both you and the house are fixed soon.

Joyful said...

You hang in there BB. Don't berate yourself because you have an awful lot to deal with but you will get through it. I can already see signs of your old self shining through this post. Your unique humour coming through despite the pain and the feelings of too much to deal with. Hugs. xx

Lydia Kang said...

You know what, it's okay to just let that out. Life isn't all perfect seams and neat hair. It's messy. So if you have to burst, burst. I can't help but think that that house is more than a metaphor for your heart. It's broken; you're broken. Both are fixable. Really. Hang in there honey.

Alison said...

Good for you for crying--that's what you're supposed to do when your world turns upside down and you find yourself having to deal with Garbage Days all alone.

Except you're not always alone. You have friends, and sisters, and bloglanders who are thinking about you, even if we can't be there to watch the Moisture Detectors blinking away.

Oh, yes, Hilary and co. are absolutely right. You can look on this as a way to erase and re-do part of the slate. A small part of it will be your house, not "our" house.

Don't you have at least one cat, as I recall? I do hope you've begun talking to them. I think if I were in your shoes, it might be the only thing to keep me sane at night.

Unknown said...

My eyes have filled with tears: I don't know HOW you will get through it, Betty.


Sending up a prayer for you today, my cyberfriend.


jenny_o said...

Oh, Betty.
Oh, Betty.
Oh, Betty.

Oh, Betty.

I can't come up with anything that hasn't already been said, so I'll squish all the best stuff into one sentence: sometimes crying is the best thing to do, bar none; your sense of the ridiculous is still clearly evident; xHOB ought to be doing something to help, at least money-wise; and if you can't beat 'em, join 'em (use the necessary repairs to help you get a fresh start in that house of memories).

I wish there was more I could do than spout words.

Thinking of you.

Brian said...

You just gotta believe you WILL make it though all of this. I believe it and I know you can too!

annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annie said...

As Hillary said, it will be yours. You will find out how strong you really are. Others can see it already and you will too now.
It's going to be alright and you will be alright too.
We are all behind you 100%.

PS. John is right!

My Mind's Eye said...

Bless your heart it is obvious you are stronger than you think you be carrying such a huges load. The house trauma would be enough to send me over the edge. I cannot even imagine how you are managing everything else.
Will you be staying in the house during all the repairs?

I'm so sorry for you mother in law.
She must be thinking and wondering what happened to the son she raise.

Eileen said...

I've been catching up, reading past posts. I'm so sorry for all that you are going through. I sometimes think houses are living spirits and when the people who love them hurt, they hurt, and that always seems to be when things blow up. I wish you much gentleness and peace and a safe place to be mad at the world for as long as necessary. When my husband and I divorced several years ago, I kept busy with doing things to my house, since I was going to keep it. The first thing I did? Painted over his blue TV room with my favorite pink. :)

Marlene said...

You really should write a book. You have a way with words that really provokes emotion from the reader. I am praying for you. I'm also betting those guys will be back to finish the job.

Lin said...

I think that is why HOB left--you know, the leak. I think the SOB knew about it and didn't want to deal with it himself. Or not. But I like that story, don't you? And I really think we should be calling him SOB and not HOB anymore. Or BLOB. Although I'm not sure what that would stand for, but I like how it sounds.

Guys are wienies. Even repair guys.

joan said...

You both, you and the house, will heal. It's going to be dirty and messy, and it will hurt. In the end, you will both be stronger, more beautiful, and be able to shake away the dirt and dust.

Linda Myers said...

Not good timing, for sure. But I'll bet it gets done quicker and much more to your liking when you get to make the decisions and have the job done by people who know what they're doing. Rather than by family members doing it "on the side" and "when they have time".

Hang in there! said...

"Somehow it felt personal." You still make us laugh in spite of it all.

I can't begin to count the times I've fallen to pieces on innocents like those guys. It happens. We're human. Be gentle with yourself.



I do hope your home gets sorted quickly, you have enough to think about without the added pain of seeing your home not as it should be.

Take care. Yvonne.

Ann said...

Oh Betty I feel just terrible. I confess as I was reading this and got to the part about them running the sensor over your eyes, I laughed. I'm sorry I couldn't help myself.
Even though this is a really rough time for you, believe me, when it's over you are going to come back stronger than ever. It'll make you feel very good about how you survived and rebuilt your life and your home.
Tell HOB to put that in his pipe and smoke it. :)

Gigi said...

When life falls to pieces; it REALLY falls to pieces, doesn't it?

At any rate, you gave those youngsters a quick lesson in life and you get to re-vamp a bunch of stuff in the house - which believe it or not, may actually help you with the re-vamp of your life.

Lots of hugs. And remember, somebody (if not those guys) will be there to help you with the fixing of the house and your new journey. You are not alone. Remember that.

ds said...

Oh, Betty, I am so very sorry. Yes, take this opportunity to make your house your own. Hang on.

Ms. A said...

Betty, you are a very strong, capable woman. Go hit somebody, it'll make you feel better!

Connie said...

Oh dear, what a wretched mess. I'm so sorry, Betty. Sending you the biggest hugs I have. You will get to the other side of this. Your house will be better than ever before. You will be stronger because of it too. I wish there was some way I could help you. You're in my thoughts and prayers. Believe it or not, this too will pass.

Cool Gal said...

When it rains, it pours.

Thinking of you, Betty.


ellen abbott said...

Hilary got it right. Indulge yourself, you have only yourself to please and why should you not? When was the last time you did that? Terrible that the house should pick this time but really what a metaphor. Change is most traumatic when you fight against it.

karen said...

This could be the start of something exciting. You can choose whatever pleases YOU. I've been through this same water thing years ago, and I'm here to say that there's life after flooding. Things get fixed, and improvements are made. Knock down that wall between the two rooms! Make one BIG room - for you! It's up to you, girlfriend. It'll be a horrific mess - I won't lie to you - but the end result will be something that you like, and it'll be good to make all those decisions yourself and OWN this thing. You're awesome - don't forget that.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

BB, I love Hilary's take on this. It still hurts, of course, but it just might be a very positive step in making the house yours and making it a happy place again. Wishing you God's blessings and healing.

Unknown said...

You are in the crush of everything right now. One thing I wasn't sure of recently in my (admittedly different) situation, but that really is true: This won't last. Things will get better. Everything will not seem to be falling apart forever.

I wish I had plumbing and renovation skills. I could spare 5-7 days (well, I'd be accompanied by a Fynnie Fynn, so I should say we could spare the days).

Sending you love.

VEG said...

I agree with Teresa, this is symbolism at its best. It's a fresh, if somewhat inconvenient start.

Also, I marvel at how you can make something that sounds so sad, so hilarious at the same time. Good for you. Things are going to get better, B.

Pat said...

Holey moley! This is the true meaning of "when it rains it pours"! It is kind of funny that you wanted to tell these young guys your "dilemma". When my sister's husband died, she would tell everyone, usually the cashiers, that her husband died. Her kids would say, "oh geez, here she goes", but it gave her some comfort. Now looking back (it's been 5 years) she can laugh about it. You will too. I did a LOT of crazy things when I went through my divorce. I survived. YOU WILL TOO!

Gail Dixon said...

Bless your heart, you are overwhelmed from all sides. Hilary's advice is awesome; I'd go with that. (((hugs)))

Zuzana said...

Thank you for letting us into your reality, your candid depiction of a day when life is at its worst shows how strong you really are.;)
And who knows, maybe they will be back.;)

scrapwordsmom said...

Oh sweet Betty. You have had so much happening. My heart is going out to you. It WILL get better.


Love and hugs...


Bill Lisleman said...

someday in a few years this will be really funny but still sad.
You certainly have lots of online help. all the best

Green Monkey said...

its really something how your heart and house are connected. love how honest and open you are about your (heart)break. BIG HUGGGGG ((((((monkeyME))))))

Brian (not the cat) said...

You have far more than seven giant fans.

Fresh Garden said...

Touched my heart!

Baby Sister said...

Oh Betty. :( It does feel personal, doesn't it? I hope as it gets repaired, so does your heart.