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As many of you know, my husband passed away on August 10, and my family and I have been fighting the hardest battle we have ever faced as a family. I’m not going to get into the things right now that will break your heart and make you cry as we have cried, but I do want to share some of my thoughts as I forge a new path without Kenneth.
My husband’s main concern as he faced death was not in his life after death. He was not afraid of dying, because he knew where he was headed. To say that he was ready to leave, however, would not be true either, because he loved his family and he was not really keen on the idea of not seeing us for a while. However, if going “HOME” now was God’s plan for him, Kenneth was not going to argue. His main focus as he pondered his demise was to ensure that his family was going to be taken care of. He was very happy with his beautiful daughter-in-law, Amy, and his sons-in-law, Steve and Adam.
He was satisfied that his children had loving, caring mates who would not only look after them, but love them no matter what life threw their way. He loved his grandchildren – all six of them – and thought each was special and dear to him in very distinctive and unique ways. The only fly in the ointment was that Lauren lived in the Pocket, which was a whole 45 minutes away. Let’s don’t mention that the other two children live in Nashville, which is an hour and a half away! Please don’t misunderstand Kenneth’s thinking, for the Pocket is a beautiful place especially this time of the year with all of its wondrous colors. To Kenneth, it was just that Lauren lived so far from home and so far from her brother and sister and us that he really obsessed about her location. It seemed she was so far away if he needed her – you see she was his baby girl.
So, as we sat in the hospital room at St. Thomas facing facts and realizing that we were soon coming home for (as it turned out) a very short time, Kenneth got really silent and we thought he was thinking about his sad state of affairs. Not so. He was planning. So, with a smile on his face, he turned to all of us and announced, “Well, it would be my final wish that Lauren and Adam and Cooper would move into our house and live in it and it would be theirs to do with as they wish. It would be theirs forever.”
We all smiled as we realized that he was not fretting over HIS future, but was concerned with other matters. And then Kenneth grinned at me and announced, “And Margaret, you can move to the basement and live where your mother lived!” I looked at everybody and said, “Well, I do believe that he has just given my house away!” Unlike many families, this was not a proposal that caused one second of jealousy or anger; it was accepted as something that everyone had already considered would be the most probable outcome. HOWEVER, many thought it would occur upon MY passing! Oh well! LOL – I had to share a little of what went on before Kenneth passed away so that you can now understand how I got myself in such chaotic disorder as I am carving out this new life for myself. I do have to say that I am so looking forward to the upcoming move from the Pocket, because I have spent seven of the loneliest and saddest weeks imaginable. And I really think Kenneth knew that is how it would be, so now I realize that ultimately, he was really looking after me.
I hate to break the news to you, but contrary to what you probably believe, I have never been one who followed my husband’s directives 100% with absolute obedience. You see, I am a woman with a mind of my own, and that little piece of information right there should be enough to let you know that even though we were only 3 days shy of 42 years of marriage when Kenneth passed away, contrary to popular belief, not all of those days featured smooth sailing. I didn’t mind him then, why on earth would I want to start now!
So instead of moving to the basement as Kenneth suggested, which if you just think about it would have been infinitely easier and certainly less costly; I did not want to live in my mother’s lair. It has only been a little over a year since she passed away, and the memories of her sitting in her area of the house are too fresh for me to not be miserable living in her space. Sooooo, I decided to create my own niche, make my own place, and (of course) do it my own way, so I started out, And to think. ALL I WANTED TO DO IS ADD ON A ROOM!
We have a garage that is connected to the house and that is where the utility room is/was located. I looked at the garage area and wondered if there would be enough room for a bedroom and then a living room and then a bathroom. So, this is how it went.
Joe Thornley and all of his wonderful friends set about turning the garage into my new living quarters. He just smiled when I asked him if I really had enough room in a two-car garage for all of my plans. The first thing we did was move the utility room from the garage to the center of the house where we once had a little office. Howell King and his helpers moved all of the necessary wires and plumbing stuff and now the new utility room is up and running, allowing Joe to turn the old space into a bathroom. Easy enough, huh? My children have tried to sleep in the basement on several occasions only to find it was not conducive to a quiet, peaceful rest. I had portable air conditioners, which still did not eliminate all of the humidity in the basement, so I also had a dehumidifier going which had to be emptied every other day. You talk about noisy! Also, I was beginning to notice a slight mold problem in Mama’s bathroom and closet area, so I knew I had to do something to alleviate the air movement problem downstairs.
I had Palmer Heat and Air out of Tullahoma come and install a unit in an area that everyone else had thought could not be fixed without major destruction. Voila! Problem fixed, right? WRONG. Since Allan Crisp was going to do my sheetrock work in my new part, I asked him to replace the sheetrock in the basement as the cause of my mold problem was most assuredly and permanently fixed. As Allan tore away the old sheetrock it became evident that I now had two additional problems – moisture leakage and TERMITES! Many people would have called “Roto Rooter,” but I called Mr. Ralph Sanders and his boys Ricky and Scott. Their motto is “No problem is too big that can’t be fixed by three men and a BobCat!” And just think. ALL I WANTED TO DO IS ADD ON A ROOM!
Then I contacted Burt’s Termite and Pest Control to annihilate the tiny creature issue. So far, I have encountered mold, termites, a major drainage issue, oh yes and last (HOPEFULLY) but not least let us not forget the water leak that the Sanders boys discovered and fixed! And to think – ALL I WANTED TO DO IS ADD ON A ROOM!
In all the construction and renovation, I removed the kitchen door that has been in place for 36 years, and we’re making a new entry into my part. Needless-to-say, I frequently find myself standing in front of that no longer existing door trying to get out of the house! I wonder how long I will continue to do that. Because I removed that door, my security system could no longer find its sensor with which to communicate, so I get a call every morning at 9:00 from ADT informing me that something is not quite right. I now refer to it as my “Wake-Up Call!” Anyway, the ADT tech was here today, and everything is fixed. As each door is opened, the control unit announces it, for example “Front Door” “Basement Door” etc. When the technician asked how I wanted my new entrance door labeled, I said, “Mama’s.” You know how modern technology can be. Now every time that door is opened instead of saying “Mama’s,” the unit spells it out “M…A…M…A…S” but, at least I should no longer get anymore wake up calls! And to think – ALL I WANTED TO DO IS ADD ON A ROOM!
It has gotten to where I am leery when someone says, “Oh Ms. Margarettttt!” because I just know they are going to tell me they’ve discovered some new ailment! Tony Rhodes was wiring the new part and since my breaker box in the main part of the house was fairly full, he sliced a ditch across part of the drive so that he could utilize the breaker box in the workshop garage. No matter how he or Mr. Ralph and his boys have sliced and diced the yard (I also had the train removed from the yard and they dressed the lawn for me), it looks as if I have done as much construction/destruction outside as inside, but boy am I gonna have lights! I’ll wager the first time they are connected there will be an immediate surge at SVEC and the whole neighborhood will go dark for a second or two. You will understand an OLDER person’s need for more light in just a second, because now that I have shared the serious stuff, I want to tell you some of the things that cracked me up!
As Joe was walking through my garage he said, “And I will want to put in wide hallways so that you can use a wheelchair.” Then Lauren said, “Be sure and choose a bathroom vanity that you can roll up to.” Next my son-in-law, Steve, said, “Make sure you get hold bars installed in the shower ” and the TERMITE man said, “Oh yeah, be sure you go ahead and have them install you a RAMP for a WHEELCHAIR!” SERIOUSLY? I know all of those are really good intervention ideas and I acknowledge the wisdom of planning for the future, but all of a sudden I feel really, really OLD. And to think – ALL I WANTED TO DO IS ADD ON A ROOM!
People often quote “Murphy’s Law” which suggests that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” and it is usually used in a tongue-in-cheek manner when they’re hoping against hope that whatever they are attempting really works out far easier, faster, and in a wonderful manner rather than becoming total chaos. Gonna wash the car – it rains. Gonna bake a cake – it falls. Gonna add a room – everything in the house falls apart! Life is just that way. You can be a pessimist and look at life like it is a glass that is half empty. Or, you can look at it and be an optimist who chooses to look at the glass as half full. I imagine God has to be the supreme optimist. Just look at His children. Every time one of us goes to the altar or falls on our knees at home asking for forgiveness, God must put a check mark in His tally column of souls WON. Then, WE choose to apply “Murphy’s Law” and God may have to move our check mark to the other side for souls lost. Yet He does not give up on us – any of us. I don’t care what Life throws at us, we must continue to work on keeping ourselves in the right column. That is the only way we can face our final days as my husband faced his – knowing that we are indeed going “HOME” and that God has already added on a room!