By Christmas of 2004, Wally was enjoying reasonably good days. We could go out for dinner, socialize with friends and enjoy a simple quality of life as long as it didn’t include long trips. This meant we could not travel to visit our daughter and her family, who live more than two hours drive away. They did and do come to see us often. That Christmas was great fun. Wally enjoyed playing family games with our grand kids and son-in-law while my daughter and I spent some mother-daughter time alone. The three children especially enjoyed playing with Yogi. They had him racing back and forth fetching his ball.
For Wally, the six weeks of hell had passed like a blink in time. They were behind him and he was marching forward, but I couldn’t forget. During the nurses’ daily visits, we often talked about what was ahead and the adjustments we would have to make.
Looming over my head was the house. What were we thinking when we bought it? I blamed myself for not being more realistic. The more I looked into the costs of what needed to be done, the more I worried. Now we didn’t have the savings it would take to renovate this house to accommodate the progressive stages of Wally’s disease.
Wally doesn’t believe in asking God for anything. Everything that happens in his view is a result of our choices, and we have to live with them. I, on the other hand, had nowhere else to turn. “I don’t know what to do, God. I just know I have to do something.”
As I was driving along one day, the mantra “location . . . location . . . location . . .” flashed across the screen of mind. I stopped the car. If Wally wanted the house because of its location, someone else would buy it for the same reason. We had kept it in a pretty state. Sell high, buy low, and use the difference to renovate for wheelchair accessibility and mobile limitations. “Thank you, Lord! That’s a great idea.”
This time I would measure every doorway and hallway. I went to a friend in Wilmot Creek who was a real estate agent and explained what I needed to do. She immediately saw the possibilities. Not only that, house values in Wilmot Creek had increased, to which I countered, “Which means we’ll have to pay more.”
“Not necessarily,” she explained. “Some houses have good bones but they don’t show well. Do you want to look at a few?”
Of course I did. She showed me five possibilities, and like Wally often did with his clients, she left the one she suspected I would like to the last. The first four left me cold but I could see potential. I had already conceded that location could not be a consideration this time, but the fifth house took me by surprise. As soon as I walked in, before I had measured a doorway, I knew the house was for us. There was lovely light flowing through it. I looked past the dismal wall colors and trailer-park kitchen, and headed straight for the den. Low and behold, it overlooked a golf course at the putting end so missed balls would not end up breaking our windows.
I then went home to Wally and explained the plan. At first he balked. He hated moving at the best of times. That forced me to go back over each problem we faced through the six weeks when he lost most of his mobility. I then went over the expense to change the existing house to what we needed as opposed to the possibilities by moving to a place that had a structure better suited to renovation. “I promise we won’t go into debt. We’ll buy low and sell high, and the difference will pay for the renovation.”
He looked at me with some skepticism and then nodded in agreement. “I doubt it will cover everything. But what concerns me most, you’ll be on your own. I won’t be able to help you.”
“Just inspect things as they go along. You can tackle the contractor if you see he’s neglecting something.”
“That’s true. And I want to go over the costs with him.”
“That’s good,” I agreed.
“Have you found a contractor you like yet?”
“No. First I have to draw a plan.”
Then he grinned. I had been drawing house plans since the day we met 24 years before. I was ready for this move.