So I haven’t talked about what is going on down at my parents’ house for a while, but I have been devoting quite a bit of time and attention to it lately. Their house is about 20-30 minutes (depending on traffic) away from my house. This is not too far, but it does require me to plan my time carefully since it isn’t a quick trip back and forth, especially when my day is so interrupted with driving duties for the kids. But, I can usually find a 1-3 hour block in my morning or early afternoon to get down there if I need to.
Over the past month I have met with an interior designer to review recommendations if I were to completely remodel the place. She helped pick out some exterior paint colors as well. I have met with a contractor and he has done repairs on the siding of the west side of the house which got a lot of sun exposure. And, as of late last week, I had the entire house repainted, including making some minor repairs to the wood trim, etc. along the way. So, except for switching out some light fixtures and door handles, the exterior of the house looks pretty nice now. I might still do some work on the back patio (concrete overlay since there is a large expanse of not-so-lovely Astroturf on the back patio now) and some landscaping. The pool and surrounding decking is older, but it all looks pretty good.
I did have to hire an attorney and go to probate though. There isn’t much in probate since most of the accounts were converted to joint accounts, but I still have to go through this process for the house and car. After a bunch of paperwork, I was granted the title of “personal representative” and that finally allows me to contact all of the companies – insurance, etc. and work on behalf of the estate. I’ve spent weeks on the phone, etc. canceling services, returning satellite dishes and medical equipment, closing accounts, moving accounts around, filing papers, and working with insurance companies on hospital/ambulance bills. I have learned way too much about this sh*t in the last few months. Ugh.
Just this past September my dad was having some problems with his car so he looked online and found a 2005 Cadillac Deville, all the way in Illinois, that had very low miles (like 11,600). He bought the car through Carmax and made arrangements to have it shipped to Arizona. The car was immaculate and still smelled new, despite being close to 10 years old. He was really happy with this purchase and put over 1000 miles on it before he was hospitalized in January. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get a fair price selling it, since the “blue book” listing was much lower than what he had just paid for it, and wasn’t really taking the super low mileage into account. So, I decided to take it back to Carmax and at least see what they could do. I knew they would have the sales price from a few months ago and it was one of the few places I know that is a dealership which will buy your car without having to purchase one in its place. Well, I have to say, they were very easy to work with and they gave me what I thought was a very fair price for the car. Obviously we didn’t recoup the shipping charges, etc. but I didn’t feel like we, “the estate”, lost a bunch of money either. Furthermore, they dealt with everything quickly, nicely, efficiently and it didn’t feel sleazy. Except for it being clear over on the other end of town, it was a pleasant experience – and I was SO happy to check that off my “to do” list! Emotionally, selling this particular car was pretty easy since he just bought it. I didn’t really associate it with him so much yet.
So this leaves me with the biggest task so far, clearing out the personal possessions of the home. I think I mentioned that my mom gave me what I consider a huge gift by already sorting through so many family treasures and, most of all, labeling everything with a sticky note or note inserted inside. I can’t tell you how nice that has been as I go through items trying to decide if I should keep them or not. If they have enough family history that she felt it was worth documenting, then I am going to keep it, at least for now. I had the hardest time taking down all of the family photos. After 40 years, it was heart-breaking to remove “us” from the walls. I brought all of those picture frames back to the house and took all of the photos out of them, returning the old frames back to house to be included with the estate sale. I have gone through just about every closet, cabinet, drawer, etc. so far and now I’m down to just deciding what to keep. Today I went through my dad’s workshop out in the garage. Wow, I didn’t get emotional, but I really have a strong sense of my dad in there. He was a fairly neat guy but that workroom looks about like my office – a total mess. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree! I am meeting with a lady from the estate sale company tomorrow and I’ll have to know what I’m planning on keeping vs. selling – it is a little stressful but I know for about 95% of it. I don’t want to rush this process, but I can’t let it drag on indefinitely either. Last week I rented a storage unit and have started taking boxes straight there. I don’t want them to sit too long but we haven’t put the new flooring down in our house yet so I’m trying to avoid shuffling all of these boxes around and around.
I decided when I started this process, that it would be in my best interest to keep some healthy snacks and easy meal alternative/replacements at my parents’ house so that I didn’t start going to fast food places in the area when I got hungry. I’m happy to say in the 3 months of taking care of things down there, I haven’t been anywhere for food while working at the house. I usually just have a protein bar or I keep a few Greek yogurts around too. I’m so scattered when I’m working there – I bounce from room to room and make piles all over the place. Thank God the house doesn’t have any other food because that is a huge trigger for me to “take a break” and get a snack.
So things are moving along, slowly. I’m working on the physical part – the house, the “estate”, the paperwork, the bills … but I’m continuing work on the emotional healing too. I really like the counselor I have been seeing every two weeks from hospice. It forces me to sit down and talk through things. She seems to have a really good understanding of what my day to day life is – she is a mom of 3 grown children who, coincidentally, went to the same high school as mine and were involved in some of the same
activities. Her questions and thoughts are right on target with how I am feeling or have felt. She gets it and makes it easy to talk. None of it is particularly earth-shattering and I don’t have a lot of “issues” …but she helps me process things and at least not push it down deep inside me. I’ll see the other psychologist for the eating / food side of things next week to touch base. Again, no big issues going on right now, I’m just so nervous about things getting out of hand that I’m trying to be proactive. Maybe its over-kill, but so far it is working. I’m still right in the green/yellow zone and haven’t lapsed at all with my exercise. I just don’t want to mess with what is working!