My last house had its original windows still, from 1969, single pane with aluminum storms screwed on. They needed repainted and reglazed when I moved in. What a dreadful job. The other option was to replace them, but that was a lot of money that I didn’t have. I put it off.
Finally they got to be this bad. I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.
My parents retired in 2014, sold our longtime family home in South Bend, and moved to Indianapolis, where my brother and I lived. We were able to visit a lot more after that. One time when they came over I lamented the state of my windows.”
“I’ll paint and reglaze them,” Mom said. “I’m just sitting around the house anyway and would be very happy to have a big project to do.”
It was an enormous job. Mom worked on it most weekday afternoons, and it took her two, maybe three months to finish. But my windows looked terrific when she was done! I hardly knew how to thank her for it. I took my parents out for dinner at a posh restaurant and hoped that was enough.
This is how it was with my parents — they were willing to work hard on my house anytime I wanted or needed it. When I bought the house, the previous owner had just had a new well drilled, which left behind a mound of dirt that had to wait until the ground settled before being spread back out. A couple years later, Dad was over hanging out with my sons while I was at work, and he decided to issue them shovels and get that job done. Mom missed her extensive gardens, something she couldn’t replicate at their condo, so she worked hard in mine and made them look stunning. When the city compelled me to connect to the sanitary sewer, it destroyed my front yard. Mom and Dad came over and with my sons we all filled in the yard with fresh topsoil and planted grass. Then when I married Margaret and was ready to sell the house, Mom and Dad both helped me paint the interior and take care of a little maintenance I had deferred. Dad had been a cabinetmaker and had perfected a wax finish; he waxed my kitchen cabinets and left them aglow.
I didn’t understand why they were so eager to help me with these jobs. But their help was indispensable. Simple thanks were never enough, but were frequently all I knew how to offer.
My sons are now adults, and while they don’t own houses yet, they occasionally need their old Dad’s help. Garrett called me last weekend: “Dad, I’m going to switch apartments in March. Could I ask you to help me move when the day comes?”
Heck yeah! I’m thrilled to be included. I get it now — it’s deep in a parent to want to be included and involved in their adult children’s lives, and to be useful to them.
But I don’t know that I’ll ever be up for painting and reglazing windows.
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