Well, it looks like the deal of a lifetime is coming to an end. It was a vaguely worded verbal contract we had. Back in the fall of 2016 my Tucson daughter asked if she and her family could relocate East and live with us for a few months, as her hubs Stu went through flight school to be a commercial airline pilot.
“We’ve decided to sell the house. Then we’ll be debt free. I’ll be able to stay home for a couple of years. Stu’s going to flight school. He’ll fly out of New York City. We’ve both resigned our jobs. We just need a place to land for a few months.”
Delighted is not a strong enough word to describe how my wife and I felt hearing those words. Elated. Ecstatic. Delirious with joy gets closer but does not capture the rapture in our hearts. For the past few years, actually since my four year old grand daughter was born, we’d been trying to figure out how to live closer to each other. Could I get a job in Arizona? No. Could we just retire a bit early? No. Could we start cooking meth in a rolling Winnebago lab? No. Lottery win, gun running, numbers games, computer hacking…. no,no,no,no.
In the end it all came together in the most unimaginable way. After a month in San Diego Grace and the kids and dog Kermit moved in with us just before Christmas. Wow!! Our quiet and orderly days were immediately over. Max was crawling, then walking, then dare-deviling all over the place. Miss Leah Bideyah was off the leash with her four year old attitude. Challenges were met with lots of hands on deck as three generations began to coexist under one roof. I’d never experienced this generational stacking before, but now I am a big fan of the Big 3. Sure, there’s more food, utilities, cleaning, dishes, noise, wear and tear, etc. But there is also more fun, energy, zest, joy, and snuggling.
“How long will it be? ”
“Just till we get a contract on the house. We should be out by the end of May for sure.”
No rush from grandma and grandpa. We were thrilled to have the novel chaos erupting around us like a freshly fertilized mushroom farm on a warm summer night. I mean stuff was popping up and falling over, creeping, dripping, tripping, stinking, bouncing, screaming, crying, giggling, snuggling, and on and on in the glorious minutes. Ear infections were numerous. One trip to the ER for a choking incident. Multiple dingers on Leah’s head, making her preschool teachers suspect that the absent pilot father was abusing her on his sporadic trips home. I think the injuries occurred because she happily whirled like a dervish whenever her daddy was home, and then fell over her tuffet.
March came and went. Grace started working in an empty room at my office. It was nice to have a coffee and lunch buddy after years of solitude. No hurry to lose that benefit. The void of absence filled in firmly with smiles and hugs and funny conversations.
April rolled over into May. No change, no problem. Though the living room and downstairs were filling up with plastic Little Tykes toys, and the back yard had a trampoline, a blow up dragon pool, a sand box, and many other monstrosities, it was all good all the time. Nothing a like an alarm clock made out of little feet pitter pattering overhead at 6:00 a.m. Nothing like a whispery voice telling you “I love you, Granpa.” Nothing like watching a little boy crawl, then walk, then run, then terrorize a major city like Godzilla. So many lessons were taught both ways as our grandkids grew up before our eyes, making every day pretty darn special.
I began to make my smart aleck comments in June, I believe, not to motivate exodus but to deal with the stress of imploding chaos. “Hey, has anyone seen the treadmill? It was in the sun room last week, I’m sure of it. Who would steal a treadmill?” Actually the treadmill was buried beneath a landfill of wedding decorations and unopened Amazon boxes.
In July I thought I was in the scare house from a carnival, the one with the shrinking room. As I walked across a shrinking downstairs family room, I uttered, “Didn’t we used to have a wood stove on that side of the room? Where can that have gone?” Honest to exaggerations, toys and boxes of clothes, poofy chairs, yoga mats, and a big doll house surrounded by 1,000 plastic figures were/are stacked floor to ceiling. Behind that is my bride-to-be daughter’s karaoke system with big speakers. I fear the arrival of the fire marshal as much as I do my own premature death.
Last week good news came that the Tucson house had finally been rented. Apparently no one wanted to buy it… which is not really bad news. I’m still holding out for some weird relocation or witness protection residence program in Tucson. Anyway, that freed up the cash flow, so the immigrants could emigrate. On Saturday last we drove up to Hershey, PA for a look around at rentals Grace and Stu had previewed on line.
The first one was adequate, in a hodge podge tolerable sort of way. “We could stand to live here”, Grace voiced. We almost cancelled the second appointment.
“I can’t imagine a house with only 1400 finished square feet meeting your needs. House number one was over 2,000 funky feet with all the wonky rooms.”
“We have to go look at it.” So we did. Up a lovely tree lined road we climbed, past very fine homes. I kept reading the address numbers as we got closer. When we finally arrived at 1150, I thought there had to be a mistake. It was too nice. Wonderfully landscaped. A half million dollar house next door, and endless back yard, not your typical rental. And it wasn’t. The owner’s daughter showed us around the property. Truth be told, it’s a nicer house than the one I live in. Solidly built in the late 1960’s. Sure, there are drawbacks, one bath. Three bedrooms that cannot be reconfigured. An unfinished basement that is also unheated. The upside, however, far exceeded the down. Gorgeous floors, a patio, granite counter tops, solid wood doors, and more.
It seemed hardly a contest as we drove away, with an application in for both properties. Before we got back on the major highway, renters’ remorse kicked in and Grace called the owner, left a message, sent a text, and then emailed her intentions to lease the place. “I hope they like me, us, the dog. All that.”
Apparently they did since the deal was closed today, two days later. The old contract is gone; the new is in play. It’s been a wonderful journey. Gratitude like happy ink tears drips all around the signed deal.