Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rev It Up

Make fun of my optimism all you want, but the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree.

And speaking of such, after a tree fell on my parents' Northern Neck house back in May, they were relocated to a neighbor's cottage for six months while massive repairs took place. The differences were huge for them: a far smaller (in fact, one story) house, no dishwasher or DVD player, limited access to their belongings. A lot of adjustment for two 80-somethings.

Now after six months of workmen toiling non-stop, they are days away from finally moving back into their repaired home. And how does my Mom feel about the half year of inconvenience and missing the comforts of home?

"That tree was the best thing that ever happened to us!" she told me cheerily when I went down today to help with some of the move-in effort.

What she means is that they would never have put on a $30,000 roof or ordered new living room furniture or had all the floors refinished or gotten new ceilings in three rooms or replaced chandeliers or had a stately column added to the front room or...any of it. Not these children of the Depression.

The challenge is that while all that work was being completed, the contents of their house were stuffed into three rooms which now need to be restored to order. In a three-story house, that's a hell of a lot of work.

So I drove down bright and early (there are few people for whom I will get up at 7:30 a.m.) to "help with the kitchen" as she put it, but we actually did very little in that room. Her first priority was the pantry/laundry room because that's what was important to her. From there, we went upstairs to hang curtains in the library and bathroom.

As we're working, she's telling me that she saw a brown fox sunbathing in the yard last week, behavior she thought odd for a fox. She pointed out white swans on the creek behind the cottage, something they'd never seen in their 30 years of living down there. She admits that will miss the view of the creek behind the cottage.

After lunch, we headed back upstairs to the big sun porch where all my father's clothes had been thrown into large plastic bags when the furniture had been moved out, Now it was time to sort through and place stuff back in the drawers.

Here's where my Dad and I are complete opposites. He keeps everything and by everything, I mean he had tube socks from the '80s in those bags. And not only that, but he had over 100 pairs of socks - stretched out at the top, with holes in them, missing a mate, every color and thickness. The man never threw a sock away.

He had  - I kid you not - a pair of socks with duct tape over a hole in the toe. I laughed so hard I fell off the bench I was sitting on. Duct tape! And he'd put them back in the sock drawer, duct tape and all.

But I'm pleased to say that by the time I finished with him, he had exactly one drawer of socks, separated by dividers into athletic, dress and polar vortex varieties. It was very satisfying for both of us.

Then we worked through T-shirts, my Mom and I vetoing any with obvious holes, ratty necklines or of the sleazy '70s fishnet variety (oh, yes, he had three of those). Ditto with sweaters.

There were even several dozen handkerchiefs from back in the day when men used them (he now prefers paper towels, claiming tissues aren't up to the task), but we whittled that collection down to just the two that were still white.

By the time we finished, there were two bags of discards and four to go to Goodwill, meaning some poor woman will have to put up with a man wearing those fishnet shirts. Good luck with that, honey.

While we were out on the sun porch, I took a photograph down off the wall, one that I had years ago put my name on to claim it. That's my Mom's idea since there are six of us daughters; if there's something you'd like to have, put your name on it for possible future distribution.

It's not a perfect system. My youngest sister is said to have crawled under the house and put her name on the foundation. But this photograph is something I've coveted for as long as I can remember.

In it, my parents sit astride a motorbike in Bermuda. They were there in 1980 for their 25th wedding anniversary. Both have on short shorts and helmets (straps not fastened) and my Mom is wearing the cutest platform shoes and smiling widely.

You don't know my Mom, so you can't understand how unlikely this scenario is. First of all, she's on a motorbike. Secondly she's on a motorbike in platform shoes. The most cautious woman on the planet, a woman who worries about absolutely everything and nothing, had  - at the age of 47, mind you - decided that she was going to ride a motorbike in platform shoes.

The woman had had six daughters by then and her legs were still flawless. It is from these loins that I sprang.

So after a long day of cleaning windows, stocking the pantry, restoring things to shelves and sorting through my Dad's history as told by his wardrobe, I had the ultimate souvenir of my fabulous parents.

I only hope optimism wears as well on me as it has on them.


  1. ...you & your Dad are opposites?... he keeps everything & you write about everything.....go on & on. Yeah..maybe but honestly does the apple fall far from the tree? nice story....


  2. Okay, so we can both be excessive with certain things! But, come on, cw, duct tape on a hole in a sock? That's pretty hysterical, right?

  3. ...see your point. enjoy your holiday K.


  4. I always love your storytelling. My Papa (pronounced Paw Paw) always carried a white handkerchief and smelled like the brown Listerine. My Dad carries a red or blue bandana for his handkerchief.

    Happy Thanksgiving,


  5. What a wonderful compliment! Thank you.
    I fear that handkerchief carrying - like cursive writing and book reading - is becoming no more than a memory for a lot of people. It's great to hear that your Dad still does it.
    Happy T-Day to you, too, Melissa!