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Monday, November 15, 2004


I am a gelatinous mass of emotion. Quite likely to explode into hormonal outbursts of the tearful variety. Don't panic. Just hand me the tissue box and let me wipe away the runoff from the saline factory I like to call my eyes. Once I blow my nose, I'll be ready to begin again. But, just so you know, it's more than a little bit possible that I'll start blubbering again.

No, I'm not PMSing. I'm just tired. Very tired. Tired to the point of exhaustion. And I didn't do NEARLY the amount of work that my poor husband did in the last four days. Last night, we looked at each other after listening to one another moan and groan about every aching muscle in our bodies and lamented about how OLD we felt. As much pain as we were in, the kind of pain that when someone offers you an Extra Strength Tylenol you laugh, we still found the muscle that makes a smile happen and made it work. We were done.

Done with what, you ask? The "Ugliest House on the Left" no longer holds that title. After 8 years of wishing with empty pockets, in the span of 2 months of backbreaking work, and a home equity loan, it's finally over. On the outside, at least.

I know that sounds so trivial in light of the state of our world. I know there are huge issues in people's lives, including ours, which make something as silly as fixing up your house seem so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But if you only knew. If you only knew.

I have to hand it to my wonderful husband. He kept his promise. He said we would be done by the middle of November. Just in time for a visit from my birth family. Their plane arrived at LAX from Hawaii last night. Just under the deadline, The King of Procrastination came through.

Please don't think I'm the bitch of all wives. He KNOWS this about himself. His mother tells me it's hereditary, this "I'll do it tomorrow" thing. His sisters, all three of them, suffer from it too. To someone like me; someone who has always had the need to see a project through from start to finish, no matter what, it hasn't been easy being married to a procrastinator. How do I manage to keep our offspring in line when their own parental unit is constantly claiming; "Don't worry Honey, I'll get right on that project tomorrow!" Famous last words. The same last words I hear from my kids when I ask them to do their homework; "Don't worry Mommy. I have time." The next thing I know, a child is doing her History at 9:00 pm on a Sunday night. Or when I ask for someone to take out the trash, or feed the dog, or pick up the bathroom...you get the picture don't you? So you can understand it when I say I am beside myself with joy. Yeah, I'm sore, but happy.

I also have to say that I am probably the most grateful for friends. Our friends; the Smiths (yes, that's their real name) watched us over the weekend. They KNOW my husband well. They know that not only is he a procrastinator, but he's also a very proud man. He doesn't ask for help easily. That comes from years of abuse by an alcoholic father, and having to be "the man of the house" at an early age. When you're the one in charge of a mom and three sisters, and you're trying to hold everything together, you just don't ask for help so easily. Bless him; he's learning. Even at 46, it's never too late.

Anyway, Joe Smith watched and waved at us over the last four days, everytime he drove by. He'd come over and asked on Saturday if Charlie wanted help and Charlie responded with "I think we're ok, but I'll let ya know. Thanks!" Joe smiled. He knew Charlie wouldn't ask. Finally, last night, when we were losing daylight and it was just Charlie, me and the Grommet, and we still had two pallets full of sod to lay (fresh sod spoils if left on the pallet longer than a couple days, so we HAD to get it installed last night or lose $400 worth of sod) Joe pulls his truck up, turns the high beams on spotlighting our yard and says, "Let's lay some sod!" I followed suit, pulled my van around and turned on the headlights. Within 20 minutes, my friend Nancy Smith (Joe's sister-in-law), her nephew Peter, and Joe's brother-in-law Kenny, were all in their work duds, deep in sod. While we filled in sprinkler trenches and leveled soil, Charlie finished the sprinkler system hookups. Then, in the dark of night, with only car headlights to help us see, we finished laying the sod.

As I stopped to take a couple of pictures last night, I cried. There, through the camera viewfinder, I saw our friends, in nightfall, on a Sunday, working with us side by side. We are blessed. After the work was done and we were all sitting on the porch having a much deserved beer, Nancy piped up; "Charlie, you gotta stop being so damn stubborn. We love you. You're family. Don't you know that by now?" Charlie put down his beer and hugged Nancy and everyone down the line and with tears in his tired eyes replied; "I'm a very lucky man. And I love you guys too."

That says it all.


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