Sometimes I wonder if Sis and I would have taken on her home renovation had we known what we were getting into.
Looking back, it was good not to know — ’cause once Sis made up her mind, we never looked back. And now — long after the construction dust has settled and a week after the final coat of soft white exterior paint has begun to cure — I shake my head in wonder at what two determined sisters with a dream can do.
Of course, the best part of our adventure is that we didn’t go it alone. We had family — lots and lots of family — some sharing skills we didn’t possess, while others met everyday needs so that Sis and I could concentrate on the house. Then we had a handful of great contractors — some who came when they said they would and others who just proved themselves a handful, by almost never showing up when they said they would.
Then there was that one comical contractor that fell somewhere in-between — a wood floor refinishing crew who arrived on schedule — and after driving over sixty miles to get there, took one look at the floors and tried to quit on the spot. Thank God their boss responded to their groans by giving them a “can-do” pep talk that I quickly followed with a dose of motherly encouragement. And while they unloaded their sanding equipment, I shored up support by getting Sis on the phone during her busiest day of the week — so they could hear firsthand how happy she would be with WHATEVER improvement they could make.
I think it was this attitude along with Sis’s easy going nature — and perhaps her childlike faith in the goodness of others — that allowed her renovation to come together so beautifully. She was married to so very little; her “gotta-haves” so very few. In Sis’s mind, if something needed to change, then something needed to change. What good was it to belabor the point? And if we blew the budget bank in one area, she’d make withdrawals in another.
It was after the wood floor contractors were finished that I first heard my sister speak the word she has used SO many times since to describe her new home: AMAZING. I wish photos did it justice. But we and others who love my sister know what she began with and what she now has: a long list of new this and that, from her amazing new roof to amazing energy-efficient windows and doors to those amazing newly refinished wood floors.
And now, in spite of the joy I had working alongside my sister, it feels mighty good to be standing on this side of our six-month labor of love. Yet as I ponder this point, I can’t say for sure whether I’m standing on the easy or hard side of amazing. Because I’ve always found it easier to begin a project and harder to finish — the three small inside tasks blocking me from the finish line don’t lie. And as I sleep easier these days, I still find it hard to believe that we (and our supporting cast) actually pulled this off.
My sister’s chorus of AMAZING proves my Lenten anthem right: It is no better to be safe than sorry. For when we forget to play it safe and blindly rush into a maze of grace, we learn there is no room in the inn for Sorry. There ‘s only room for love. And with love being just another name for grace, surely it’s no coincidence that Amazing happens to be Grace’s first name.
Remember that game on the comics page of the newspaper – it showed two apparently identical pictures, and asked you to find the correct number of differences between them? I played that game for a while last night – trees gone, porch railing gone, better “bush balance” across the front, window boxes, gone, etc.
I can only imagine how many real differences there are. I’m surprised you’re done with the project now! What a lovely, lovely thing to do together – despite those danged contractors!
The answer to that rhetorical question – “would we have gotten involved if we’d known what it would entail?” – is, of course, probably not. That’s a pretty standard rule of life, though. If we all knew ahead of time, there’d be far fewer kids, marriages, career changes, trips to Bora Bora, etc.
Ignorance may not be bliss, but it can be a good starting point. And there always are surprises. I never expected, when I started blogging, that it would lead directly to the tossing of my television! Or to a few other things, for that matter….
And by the way – those are good-looking floors.
I do remember that game — and in the case of Sis’s house, the biggest external differences are the oh-so-subtle basics that most everyone would miss by comparing photos — the roof, guttering, windows and doors — which account for a third of the total budget.
You say there are always surprises — the big one for me was realizing that I need to get a move on, if I’m going to buy a “new” old home — a one-story this time — to fix up for my husband and I. I’m ready to downsize and simplify — pitch what we don’t really need. And since I can’t envision that in 10 years, I’ll still be climbing a 20 foot ladder with a paintbrush in one hand and a cup of paint in the other — I’ve realized it’s not too early to put this particular dream in motion.
I could probably pitch the television — I’d miss the few shows that I watch though the separation pain wouldn’t last long; my husband on the other hand — nope — ain’t gonna happen.