You CAN go home again…

…and sometimes you must. Even if you really don’t want to.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at my mother’s house these past couple months. It’s also the house I grew up in. The house that’s been our family home for more than 50 years. The house I lived in for more than half of those years. And the house I’ve avoided staying overnight at for many years since.

Why? Partly because many of the memories of living there aren’t that great. Partly because it’s a very inconvenient house to live in — one bathroom (until recently) with no shower (well, there’s a really scary shower in the cellar) and a vanity so low it hits you in the thigh; a 1940s kitchen (all the inconvenience, little of the charm), and an alarming lack of electrical receptacles. It’s also a maintenance nightmare. At nearly 110 years old, it’s always in need of something. I mostly just hold my breath and wait for the next thing to break or leak or fall apart. Since I live in fixer-upperhood at home, it about puts me over the edge to think about it there, too.

More than that, though, it’s just not home anymore, where a homebody like me wants to be, sleeping in her own bed with her husband and the cat (in that order).

I’ve been trying, though, to get over it. To see the house as others might see it. The pretty entrance hall with its big wooden staircase and mantle (the house has 6 lovely tiled fireplaces with wooden mantles — just ignore the asbestos covering, ’kay?) The big stained glass window on the landing. The tall ceilings. The old cast iron kitchen sink and 1940s stove. The fact that it hasn’t been “ruined” by various remodeling efforts over the decades, like so many older homes have (a few light fixtures and c.1972 pink & green flower-power vinyl floor covering in the front room of the attic nothwithstanding). Being non-design and décor inclined over 50 years has its advantages, I suppose.

mantle

hall

It’s all how you look at it, and I’m trying to look at it better. Mike thinks it will make a great home for another family someday. In the meantime, it’s still a big part of ours, and like the rest of us, is merely showing its age. I should give it the same slack I hope others give my aging self — chalking up the various squeaks, cracks, stains, and other imperfections to character rather than calamity. Battle scars earned by a lot of living, with, God willing, lots more to go.

home

Home is where you can say anything you like
’cause nobody listens to you anyway.
~ Author Unknown
(but I’m thinking it was another “youngest”)

Perspective

In my last post on Wednesday, still in the throes of post-election blues (no pun intended), I wrote:

Life will go on. I’ll keep doing my job, fixing up my house, loving my husband, watching out for my mom, paying my mortgage and my taxes, playing with my cats, cheering the Steelers, thinking about Christmas, and all the other extraordinarily ordinary things I do — at least until something dire happens to change my ability to do all that.

Then yesterday, I thought I might have that “something dire” right in front of me (no pun intended). And I thought, “Now isn’t that frickin’ ironic.”

I was getting my annual mammogram. I’ve been getting these way longer than most women my age — like for the last 15 years — because of a family history of breast cancer. My doctor has always been cautious, and I always get an ultrasound and a mammogram. Always turns out fine — no big deal.

I knew something was up when the ultrasound technician kept focusing on one spot. After like 2 minutes, I hesitatingly said, “Do you see something you don’t like?”

She said it looked like a cyst, but since it wasn’t there before, she wanted to be sure to get a good picture. And the doctor might come in to check it out, so don’t be alarmed.

Yeah, right. (It didn’t escape me that I am exactly the same age as my mom when she was diagnosed.)

I sat back up on the table while she took the results to the doc. A bit later, she was back saying, “OK, no problem. The doc has no problem advancing you (to the mammogram). You can get your clothes and follow me.”

Big, gob-smacked WHEW!

Wait wait wait in a tiny little curtained cubicle (like a closet) before finally getting into the mammogram room with a different technician.

Two pictures each side, same as always. Wait for the doctor to read the slides.

Again, the tech comes back…”I just need to take another picture of the one side…”

Shit.

While waiting for the tech to come back again after the doc looked at the new slide, I had 2 thoughts, in this order:

  1. It’s not like I’d be losing something important like an arm or a leg. It’s just a breast. I don’t need it.
  2. How the heck are we going to pay the bills if I can’t work because I’m having chemo or something?

About then, the tech came back, told me all was fine, gave me the familiar yellow “We are pleased to inform you that your mammogram and sonogram show no signs of breast cancer.” letter for my files, and that was that.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But as I was ripping off that silly paper top, I remembered to stop a second to say “Thank you, God” and say a prayer for all the women whose mammograms didn’t go so well that day.

Life really is all about perspective. (Thank you, again, God.)

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                                                              ~ Anaïs Nin