Friday, December 31, 2010

Hatching Renewal?

Today I am living to regret the chair/bed/cabinet I moved from one house to the house next door BY MYSELF yesterday (and without the help of my trusty dolly!), and the 4'x8' sheets of sheetrock that I dragged out of the house and loaded into the back of the truck BY MYSELF, and the whole room AND CEILING that I painted.  I'm not the 20-year-old man that I think I am!  Either that or I left my cape at home (personal to Mike Austin: next to the peanut butter, of course -- because that's where Mike says the capes are usually kept!).

 It always comes as a shock to me that I am a "middle aged" woman!  What a horrid term "middle aged" is!  But I suppose "elderly" is even worse and I will be that before I know it!  How did I get to be 44?  Today I feel stiff and sore and 94!

When I said to Mark on the phone earlier "I'm not the 20-year-old man I think I am", I was sitting in the office and a coworker overheard my conversation.  A sly, knowing smile came across his face and I realized what he was thinking!  No, there was no wild night of partying involved.  No alcohol.  No hangover.  I just think I can do it all and I think I have the muscles to back that up!  Those muscles, or, rather, the places where those muscles SHOULD BE, are complaining about how I've abused them today!  Usually I have a dolly and I can use that and leverage and spacial reasoning and I can move most things short of a sofa by myself and without hurting myself.  Mark gets a bit insulted that I don't need his help very much. Yesterday I left the dolly at home.  Oh, and there was that ceiling...

So, enough whining about my aches, pains, and inadequacies!  Let me show you what I did!

I have this little log cabin on Lake Tenkiller in Eastern Oklahoma.  We bought it because it's literally 20 feet from our cabin and we wanted a little say over who lived there.  BAD IDEA!  We should have trusted the fates on that instead! 

We sold the cabin owner-financed to the sweetest man whom we just adored.  I'll call him "Christian".  Christian looked after our cabin and even did minor repairs on his own volition and for free -- out of the goodness of his very kind heart.

Unfortunately, depression, health problems, chronic pain, and financial struggles were too much for Christian. 

I heard through the grapevine that he had shot himself even before his brother called to confirm to me the worst implications of that event.  He had shot himself on purpose.  And he had died as a result. 

Suicide is SO tragic.  I am always so sad to know that another soul felt such despair.  I wish he had let us help him.  In retrospect, I am very glad that I did not pressure Christian for the back mortgage payments he owed me.  I told him not to worry about it, that I knew he'd catch up when he could, and that I didn't need that money at the moment so to please not stress about it.  Regardless, I'm sure I was one of the faces in his head as the stress and worry about creditors swirled around in his mind in his dark moments. 

We got the house back through foreclosure against Christian's estate a year after he died.  His family had cleaned up "what a family should", as they said, (I still don't know what, exactly, that meant) and had removed the most sentimental of Christian's possessions, but, for the most part, the house was as it had been on the day he died.  His slippers sat abandoned in front of the recliner that he clearly spent most of his time in.  The walls were soot-stained because he had been using the fireplace for heat all winter.  Books and magazine with last-years dates were strewn around.  The calendar was still on April of the previous year.  Dishes sat in the sink.  His clothes hung in the closet.  All was as if he had just stepped out for a minute.  But, in the bedroom, a bare mattress, where Christian died, stripped of what were surely blood-stained bedclothes, sat looking as if it should have crime scene tape around it.  Very surreal!  I marvel that I never found even a speck of blood in the whole room. 

I am so very sad for Christian.  I didn't know him well but I know he was a sweet, gentle soul who loved and bragged about his big family and many brothers and sisters, and who suffered greatly though he didn't deserve it. 

There is a great lesson in Christian's story for me:  a week after he took his life, he was approved for disability, the long, cold winter came to a sunny, warm, end, and things might have been so much better for him if he had just been able to hold on a little longer.  I don't know that for sure but I will always remember Christian when I need inspiration to hold on a little longer through dispair or through a difficult situation.

My task yesterday was to paint Christian's bedroom.  It was the most soot-stained room of them all as the living room had just received new drywall (a task Christian had started and I had had finished) and the other rooms had, presumably, had their doors closed most of the time.  Painting the room was a necessity for selling the house (which I desperately need to do) but also, for me, it was somehow something I could do for Christian -- I could erase the despair from his walls and bring some cheer into a place that had seen such sad trajedy.  I talked aloud to Christian as I worked.  I even asked him to help with the other end of that heavy sheet of drywall!  And I think somehow he DID take just a bit of the weight off for me!

Here is what Christian's room looked like before:



I was inspired to use a bird/nest/robin's egg theme in the room so that's where the colors came from (a few more touches of robin's egg blue are to come -- I'm hoping to find a vintage dresser that I can paint "robin's egg"!). For me, there is something comforting and hopeful about this theme that captures imagery of rebirth and renewal. I hope Christian likes what I did to his room!
Darkness set in before I finished and the power is turned off so I don't have the spiffiest of "after" pictures but, hopefully, you can see the improvement! It's not the most dramatic make-over I've ever done but I think it's pretty good for having just a few hours and using what I had on hand.

I hung a picture of a bird's nest with robin's eggs next to the chair after it was dark so there's no photo of that but try to picture it.
Picture a nest in the branch above the bed until I find one for real -- with little blue eggs in it too!
Compare to "before" shot from the same angle.  Boo hoo -- hadn't put the branch up yet in this pic!

Those spots on the wall to the left of the chair are wet spots in the paint.  After it got dark I hung a picture of robin's eggs in a nest in that spot.  It looks great!  Too bad you can't see it!

I had the old Jenny Lind syle headboard and footboard sitting out in the elements for WAY too long!  I was planning to sell them and intended to paint them first -- if they weren't too far gone already!  Throwing them out was a possibility.  Then it struck me that they kind of fit with the texture of the rustic bird's nest theme so I tried them in this room and I really like the effect!

Chippy footboard.  I leaned it in the corner to see if it worked as art/texture just as it is.  Major fail!  But it looks good on the bed!

I know it's silly but as I looked over the made-over room for the last time before I left at the end of the day, as twilight encroached, I realized that, from the bed, you could look out the window and see the lake.  The sun was setting over the lake with the rolling, wooded hills beyond, shades silver and gold washed over the whole scene, the lake sparkled.  And I wondered, if Christian could have laid in his bed and seen that beauty and that picture of God's incredible majesty, if he might have made a different decision.  Or maybe he just took himself to a better place.

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