Tuesday, April 24, 2012

“Processing . . . Processing . . . Processing”

         Sometimes decisions and choices made by complete strangers have an unexpectedly powerful impact upon your life. When we realized Mom’s Huntington’s Disease symptoms were worsening, we knew we’d have move her into our home where she could get the eventual 24/7 care she needs. My son, who lived with us at the time since he’s studying to be an audio engineer/producer, came to me one evening after Mom’d had a particularly rough couple of weeks at her assisted living facility.
         “I think we need to move Grammy here. Maybe we can find a house for me to rent in the neighborhood. That way I could still help.”
         With that suggestion, we began a search for a nice rental home. It didn’t take us but a few days of searching to realize that homes in our neighborhood rent almost as soon as the sign’s in the yard. We stumbled upon one really nice house, called the realtor, and met with her to do a walk-though. As David and Paul meandered through the house, another couple pulled into the driveway and asked me if the house was for rent.
         “No. We just rented it.” And we did.

         That happened eighteen months ago. We’ve found our rhythm and routines. The house, walking distance from our own, gave me the security of mind to know that Paul’s minutes away in case of an emergency. To save on money, we cancelled the storage unit we’ve rented for years and moved everything into Paul’s gigantic garage. One friend gave Paul two of her old couches. Someone loaned him a table with four chairs. Paul used the extra space to add to his instrument collection. He used the extra privacy to study, study, study.
         One day last week, the realtor contacted us about doing a walk-through on the house and mentioned in her email that the owners wanted to see if we’d be interested in purchasing the house. She said that they had selling the house “on their radar.” We didn’t worry too much since this house has been a rental for ten years. The California owners have three other homes in San Antonio that they use for income. We figured they may have thought that there was a possibility that we’d want to buy a home for our son. Since Paul may not even stay in Texas once he finishes his studies, we’d never make that kind of financial commitment.
         On Thursday evening, we met with the realtor and learned that the owners definitely want to sell the house. As the realtor talked, it became obvious that they hoped Paul would continue to rent the house, keep up the lawn and gardens for them, and then move out with a thirty-day notice if they find a buyer. Plus be available during house showings because they didn’t want to be responsible for anything getting stolen. I think my jaw hit the ground!
         Once the realtor left, we decided to discuss our options over La Fonda chips and salsa. Paul suggested that he move back home. He thought we could convert a couple of smaller rooms into rooms where he can practice recording drums and other instruments if we added enough sound absorbing materials. We spent one day traipsing from music store to music store speaking to other musicians and engineers on what they’d done in their own homes. Everyone attacked the problem in totally different ways. We quickly realized that nothing could be done in advance. We’d have to modify the rooms once the equipment was moved into place. Our next thought, of course, was whether Paul’s large studio desk and Roland drum kit could fit into the tighter space. We knew he could move back into the old office he used before he moved away, but that room shares a wall with Mom’s room.
         Pulling out a tape measure quickly told us that the smaller rooms wouldn’t accommodate Paul’s current set-up. Too small! We decided to go online to check for homes for rent. Saturday, we rushed from place to place, narrowed down the choices on the ones we liked, and put calls into more realtors—rented, rented, rented!
         Over Greek food, Paul offered an easy solution. We could rent two storage units to handle all the “overflow” items, and move him back into our house temporarily. He’d go back into his old office but rely upon good earphones to do most of his work at night. He can shift to the Roland and not set up his acoustic kit. He’ll study different aspects of music and production for a couple of months while we try to find another place. This would let us all slow down to make better choices. Also, it would mean saving a couple of months of rent money!
         Living at home means huge sacrifices for Paul. With my mother starting her “wind-down” routine at four-ish every day, having friends over in the evenings, or having people spend the night or weekend won’t happen. Escaping to the gym three nights a week may help, and Paul’s certain he’ll readjust to living with us quickly enough.
         All of the data collecting of the last four days led to a decision with advantages for all of us. For now, I have daily goals of packing, rearranging, sorting, and donating. It won’t take any time to get the house ready for him. Once Paul returns home, we’ll take it one day at a time. And often that’s the best way to live.      

 Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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