I look at my husband of forty-three years while my dropping jaw forms my mouth into an incredulous “O”.
“Really? We can finally afford new carpeting?!” my darting eyes roaming the multi-stained and worn brown wall-to-wall carpet that had served us for a couple or three decades.
A buckling 4-foot runner taped to the threadbare pathway from dining room to kitchen and the tacked remnant pieces for wiping feet at the front door could finally be removed! The older floor covering expanding through the dining room and den, hopelessly matted, is nothing compared to the master bedroom’s (converted from the, now grown, children’s playroom) indoor-outdoor stuff.
“Thirty-eight years,” I muse, “we’ve lived here almost four decades!”
We had added twice to this house; one addition in 1985 and the other just 2 years ago to attach a new bathroom and a laundry room on the main floor. Arthritic knees and weak bladders have made climbing stairs to the second floor, previously only bathroom, and down in the basement to do the laundry hazards that are now a thing of the past—thank you, Lord.
Soon, we are comparing prices at two floor-covering establishments in town, and, like kids in a candy store, are challenged to pick out the perfect item that will accommodate the change in our pockets. We want something that won’t show stains, has deep and soft pile, and a 25-year warranty. At our senior ages, we figure this carpeting will last the remainder of our earthly lives.
Back at home, my heretofore bubble bursts as we survey the targeted rooms. WHERE are we going to move everything? Paying $500 to installers to do the grunt-work for this monumental task (including a piano and a curio cabinet) is out of the question, so we illicit the muscles of a much younger brother and nephew to assist. Good. One hurdle covered.
The stars in my eyes are gradually dimming as I take inventory of all the areas of clutter to weed through: piles of paraphernalia to go the children/grandchildren on their or our next visit, stacks of photo albums and photo envelopes not yet filed, along with old slides for our antiquated slide-projector. On top of all that, my husband has finally tackled a long ago promised closet for our bedroom. Which means, all the stored boxes of paperwork (25 to be exact) on a plywood shelf anchored to the top of the clothes racks on a “temporary” basis, must be downsized considerably.
Twelve 13-gallon kitchen garbage bags (stuffed with decades worth of shredded bank statements, monthly utility bill receipts and income tax return copies and booklets) later, and it feels like we have only scratched the surface. It doesn’t help that the shredder has been uncooperative and both of us need to keep unclogging the middle blade section to continue.
“WHY would you keep every pay stub you ever received?!" I exclaim to my retired spouse, “WHO does that?! And all these expired drivers’ license tags and voters’ registration cards—c’mon, you’ve GOT to be kidding!”
I am incredulous at the chaotic scene of mishmash surrounding us, and, like the proverbial ostrich, I want to bury my head in the sand. There is so much to be done and so little time left, and there is no end in sight. But we plug away anyway, emptying bookcases, curio cabinet, desks, and whatnot for easier moving of the furniture until, finally, a few hours before the carpet installers arrive, the empty rooms are ready to welcome them.
We decide to go “paper-less” (that is not to say the “paperless” our children subscribe to by going on-line to pay their bills, etc.) by eliminating records yearly; it is amazing to me that it took so long for us to realize the scant times we ever need to search through these things for verification past a year, anyway.
I walk across the plush, unstained and unworn carpeting, a giddy beachcomber feeling the sand between my bare toes for the first time.
Suddenly, a loud groan, followed by exasperated grunts, interrupts this delightful experience, coming from upstairs. My husband ducks around the stairway landing, carrying a teetering armful of boxes.
“We forgot about the records form our first house stuffed under the kids’ beds,” he pants.
"And here I thought we reached the other side of the mountain," raising my arms heavenward in mock horror, as I scamper to retrieve the dull-bladed shredder from the trash bin.
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