How Long?

“How long will this take?” Wouldn’t you ask that when arranging for improvements to be made to your kitchen, or any other part of your house, for that matter? When it’s my son, Matt, who is doing the remodeling, the answer he gives is, “Longer than you can possibly imagine.” People laugh, but they shouldn’t because he is as serious as blood poisoning.

I sigh when I look at my kitchen, which has been almost inoperable for the past few months. Yes, I have water, and a stove and a refrigerator, but the linoleum has been torn up, the countertop removed and drawers have been emptied into cardboard boxes sitting on the dining room table. The kitchen table and chairs are in the living room, which is too small, to begin with.

The upside of this is I don’t cook much because I don’t have enough surfaces and the dishwasher isn’t hooked up. I know I could do without the dishwasher – I managed without one when the kids were little, even at Thanksgiving – but I’m not going to manage without one now. If I want to see people for dinner, I go out.

Matt doesn’t know I’m writing about this and I won’t breathe a word of it until he’s finished. If I die before it’s done, and that seems more possible by the day, he’ll never know. But, boy, if I live and this kitchen comes together, this piece is going right straight into print or at least to my blog. Suffering in silence is for the silent. He ought to know that in spite of my surface serenity, I am a seething mess of wanting it done NOW.

It would have been done long ago had I taken the initiative and hired someone to do it. However, Matt didn’t like that plan and truly, his ideas are one of a kind and works of art. Also, he did the original, which is what is now being torn down, before he really knew what he was doing and I don’t think he wants anybody else to see the underpinnings. He was fresh out of Parsons’ and very young and also had his father to contend with, “helping,” leading to some unforeseen shortcuts.

Joe, of course, has now been in a nursing home for four years, with Alzheimer’s. It has taken me that long to stand up, much less take an initiative like redoing the kitchen. And there was money to consider. Matt might not work fast, but he works cheap. All I have to buy are materials. That has been a huge selling point and an even better reason to shut up and let him do his thing.

However. I just came off Lexapro, the antidepressant responsible for my eerie serenity over the past five years and there are some startling reactions bubbling to the surface. I cried when the cold water didn’t get colder than lukewarm this morning. We have an old, blind dog who deserves cold water, I sobbed. The cold water in question was cooling some hard boiled eggs and had nothing whatsoever to do with the old, blind dog needing water, but I was on a tearful roll and not aiming for rational. I finally stuck the eggs in the freezer for a few minutes and that did the trick. The dog is out on the deck, sunning himself, and doesn’t care if his water is hot or cold, as long as it’s wet. The faucet is loose, that’s all. I could probably tighten it myself but won’t, because it’s more fun to cry, now that I have the hang of it.

Like God, Matt works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. Years ago, when it became difficult to get Joe into the bathtub, I asked Matt to come up with some ideas for a walk-in shower in the upstairs bathroom. His plan was to put the shower where the cedar closet was, moving the cedar closet into the space used to store Christmas decorations, and generally rerouting the entire constellation of upstairs storage, including installing a built-in bookcase/tv arrangement that effectively converted the square front area of the hallway into a tv room. That entailed new lights and new plumbing and by the time the actual shower became a reality, Joe’s dementia had progressed to the point where he used the shower as a lovely new urinal and nothing else. The only time I was actually able to get him into it, he almost killed me, bouncing me off the tile in his efforts to get out of it. The nursing home came days afterward. Never mind, I love the shower and if there is ever another man in my future, we can have some fun times in there.

But now, that is how the kitchen is progressing. By the time it’s ready for use, there will probably be a nutrient pill substitute for food and I won’t need a kitchen. I wish that were available now — It would save me a lot of angst.

Ikea is doing the scutwork under Matt’s creative direction and, since the closest one is in Brooklyn and they don’t deliver, Matt goes down there just about every weekend to get another cabinet or drawer, or drawer insert. While he’s there, he visits his significant other, Jorge’, whom I adore and wish would move up here and help Matt build his own stuff. Matt has a full-
time job up here, has had for the past year and I almost hate to take up his weekends but this was his idea.

A friend invited me to come with her to a course in Miracles study group a few weeks ago. I was taken with some of the ideas shared by Jesus for a happy life in this vale if tears – especially the premise that the Holy Spirit can and will change our perception of things if we ask for His help. Under that aegis, I can look at the squalor and general dishevel of my barely usable kitchen and choose to see instead the love and labor that have gone into it so far. Which way do you think I’m going?