May 18, 2023

Texas trip take 2, grandparents' love story, garage sale guru, & an overlooked career opportunity

A Texas update:  My uncle in Texas has decided to move to Chicago. Much discussion and deliberation has gone into this decision, but he bounced back and forth quite a bit so I'm a little nervous. I hope that he'll be happy here. He's lived in Texas all of his adult life and he's 79. He'll live in the wonderful retirement community where my grandparents lived for many years. He'll be 5 to 15 minutes from most of my sibs, my parents, and I. Imagine - my folks' 22 grandkids can visit him too.

Shortly before my cousin took his life 33 years ago at the age of 15, he wrote a story about a boy who felt out of place in the world. This boy felt most at home and at peace when swimming with dolphins. Little Cousin enjoyed family vacations to the ocean. Uncle read the story at my cousin's funeral. As a result of the dolphin connection, there are MANY dolphin statues in their home. We suspect that this large one with a boy swimming with dolphins was commissioned by Aunt and Uncle. 

Funny story:  Both my dad's parents lived to be in their 90's. My grandpa was a confirmed bachelor. He asked my grandmother for a date from a payphone outside the hospital minutes after he was released having recovered from  pneumonia. She was his nurse, and a worry wart. When he called, and they gave her the phone, she was breathless, so convinced that he was having a health issue. Nope. He felt it wasn't appropriate to ask her out while he was her patient, so he waited to call from outside the hospital. They married a few months later.

He  was 10 years older than grandma. They died almost 10 years apart. He was something special and he passed away at age 93. I was 8 months pregnant with Lad, and I was so sad. I really wanted him to meet my baby. 

Grandma lived to be around 97. She passed when Curly was not quite 2. I took the kids to see her regularly, but in her final months she was in a hospital bed and didn't speak much. She occasionally groaned. At the end of a visit, I picked up Curly as we were leaving. Leaning over the bed, I told Curly to kiss grandma good-bye. 

At least this rug had people on it. Cute, right?
The ones with the zig zags made me dizzy.
 My bro and I were initially told that we
 needed to photograph and take notes
on each rug. There are like 21 of them. We
 started LATE at night. Weeks later when
 we got better info, we realized
 this was not necessary.
Well, Curly had been running around the room, not really aware that someone was in the bed. When I picked her up, she giggled, as in LOOK AT THIS - A GIANT DOLL FOR ME TO PLAY WITH. She leaned towards Grandma to give a kiss and Grandma chose that moment to sort of snap out of her somewhat coma like state. She maybe said BYE, but it came out very much like a LOUD guttural groan. Unsuspecting Curly was petrified. She shrieked. Coach and the older kids and I all died laughing, after we reassured her that Grandma loved her and was trying to say bye-bye. 

A big move:  Uncle was getting quite sad whenever any of us departed following a visit. His amazing neighbors and friends are a little upset. They'll miss him. Hopefully keeping in touch with phone calls and zooms will help. He does have cancer, so I think he anticipates that when things get bad he'll enter hospice here. 

My little corner of FedEx.
Ed and I fly down with my dad, on May 20th. The movers come Sunday. My brother, Pat, flies down Sunday. He will fly home with Uncle and Dad. I anticipate many humorous anecdotes surrounding Pat corralling two elderly men through the airport. 

Ed and I will drive Uncle's car 15 hours to Chicago. Coach and I are buying it. It's a newer model Ford with 23K miles. We'll transport the urns with the remains of all 3 of Uncle's family members. 

Most of Uncle's things will be sold at an estate sale. I asked for a few pieces of furniture. I'm getting a beautiful curio cabinet and a love seat and a chair. Photos to follow. 

Was I not supposed to
 pack table linens?
 But they are so pretty. And so
light. Sure, why not? Welcome
 to the mind of a garage sale guru.
I probably mentioned that Uncle is donating his Navajo rug collection to an art museum. Lest you think that all I do is bake, run a daycare, deal with a bully-coach, and attend basketball games - these last several months have also included my involvement in DOZENS of emails and text messages and meetings regarding decisions surrounding Uncle's care, the Navajo rug appraisal, or his move to Chicago, etc. I have not taken the lead on his care or his move, mind you, but it has still been a lot. 

When I was there in Feb., my job was to pack up all the china, crystal, silver, etc. and have it shipped to Chicago to my parents' house. This was before we knew Uncle would be moving here and using a moving van to bring a small amount of his furniture. I packed like 18 boxes and brought it to FedEx. Dad almost had a stroke when he learned how much it was gonna cost to pack and ship. 

More dolphins.
Did I choose too many things to pack? Perhaps. Did I have a lot of instruction? No, I did not. Did Uncle have a lot of VERY.NICE.THINGS? Yes, he did.

I later told Dad, THIS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE JOB TO ASSIGN TO A GARAGE SALE GURU WHO SEES VALUE IN MANY THINGS. There are loads of grandkids who will soon/eventually be moving out, Lad is one of them - more on that soon, and getting their own places. Well, they can go shopping in my parents' finished basement for very nice dishes or glasses, etc.

Before donating the rugs, Uncle needed to have them appraised. Long story, but while doing some digging I came across a true Navajo Rug Appraiser. Friends, this woman, who we hired, charges $200/hour. 

Raise your hand if you are re-thinking your career choice? Wishing you could learn to appraise Navajo rugs? Me, too. Have I shared with you how our neighbors feel about our abundance of vehicles?  Yes, we are adding another to our fleet. 


mbmom11 said...

Cars are addictive- esp with teen drivers and college students in the house. One can always find a good reason to get another car. Getting a car with that low mileage is awesome.
You are the logistics queen - I can see why you're in charge of this part of your uncle's stuff.

Pat Birnie said...

It seems like a wonderful idea that your uncle is moving closer to your family. I really hope it works out. And kudos to you for taking on yet another task- you really are a kind person. Yay on the car, especially with such low mileage. When we were kids our next door neighbours had a lot of teenage boys and a lot of cars in their driveway. They also fixed their own vehicles so you can image how it looked. My very particular dad was not impressed...but we liked the family so of course nothing was ever said.

Nance said...

What a huge decision for your uncle. It had to have been tough for him to leave his home of many, many years. But he's moving to the warm embrace of family, and that means a lot.

It sounds as if he had a lot of things to choose from to bring with him to make his new house a home.

Nicole said...

Good luck to him on the big move! That's a huge undertaking and life change at age 79! Hope all goes smoothly.

Kara said...

The STUFF that people accumulate. My grandmother, when she moved into assisted living, had to downsize her collections of STUFF. It was nice stuff for sure, but she had so much of it. She was the most stable person in her family (aka had a house), so when other family members needed to store things, she was the repository. And then they rarely took it back. She had multiple sets of china, cabinets full of heavy leaded crystal, and a basement room full of other STUFF. The sale of it did pay for her living expenses for the rest of her life.

Kara said...

Oh, and we have five cars on our driveway, and a travel trailer in the side yard. Our neighbors aren't thrilled.

Ernie said...

mbmom11 - We had one of those HOW ARE WE MANAGING WITH 3 CARS FOR 5 DRIVERS kind of days today. Tank isn't even home yet. The end is in sight. Another car for us to share, because there are just never enough cars. To add to our car juggling fun, Coach went to work with the fob for the minivan. It got pretty ugly.

I've had a pretty full plate with the high school investigator challenging me with some ridiculousness, so I am hoping that I am able to attend to the task at hand once I get to Texas.

Ernie said...

Pat - I sure hope he is happy here. It is a bit nerve wracking. I remember fondly the days when I trusted that my parents always knew the right thing to do. Ah, youth. Now, I'm uncertain if this is the right thing, but we will all make an effort to go see him. He wants to see a few art museums, like one in Cleveland. With all the basketball tournaments we do, I think we can try to take him to an art museum. Ann, my sister, was like NO. IT'S TOO HARD FOR HIM TO TRAVEL. The man has had a rough life. I'm confident we can make it work.

We have a 3 car garage that fits 2 cars. Then Lad and Reg park on the driveway. No clue how a 3rd car will fit on the driveway, but hopefully Lad is moving out soon. Our neighbors can find the dumbest things to complain about. I love that your family never complained and I can only imagine the sight of a bunch of cars being worked on.

Ernie said...

Nance - It is a tough decision and some of his friends have been very insistent that he stay there. That has made him unsure if he is doing the right thing. I'm off next school year on Fridays so I can get over to visit him on Fridays sometimes.

My sister brought home a painting from her visit to Texas. It's a painting that my cousin did. She was a gifted artist. She had it framed for him and will have it in his new place when he moves in.

Ernie said...

Nicole - It is a huge change. I do hope he is happy here. There are a handful of art museums he hopes to see in the midwest, so hopefully we can see a few of those. My dad loves history and Uncle loves art.

Ernie said...

Kara - I believe it. My parents won't live forever and they have a lot of very NICE things. They currently have all the china and crystal from Uncle's house in their basement too. There will be a lot to sort through at some point. I'm glad your grandmother's collections helped fund her stay.

Our neighbors are upset about our cars and they are very rarely ALL at home. Good grief. Find something else to complain about.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Wow, who knew rug appraisal was so lucrative?!?

How nice that your uncle will be closer to family.

Ally Bean said...

I like your Garage Sale Guru persona. I'm smiling. I also know how much effort it takes to pack up an elderly relatives home and move them somewhere. Good on you for doing so, also a new vehicle? Very nice.

Kari said...

My heart is with your uncle. It can't be easy to leave a home you've known for so long, but here's to new beginnings and spending more time with family.  💕

Beth Cotell said...

That dolphin and child statue is beautiful but so sad. I hope your Uncle does well with the move. It's great he will have so many loving family members nearby! I hope his transition is smooth,

Congratulations on getting another car!!!!! That is so awesome!!!!

Excuse me while I go see if there are any "Navajo Rug Appraising" classes at my local community college!

Ernie said...

Suzanne - The whole rug appraisal situation was a journey. I'm glad we found this lady, but we got some bad information initially and it took us on a wild ride where we thought we didn't have to pay didly squat. Whatever. I could write several posts about it, but snooze fest - the lady was a TALKER, so kept things interesting. Impossible to get her off the phone.

I do think it will be so great for Uncle and for Dad to be in the same area after all this time.

Ernie said...

Ally - It was so odd to be in Uncle's house and just start packing things that appeared to have value or things that I deemed would be usable to the grandkids who are finishing college, etc. I definitely have a gene that takes me right to the THIS IS A GOOD DEAL frame of mind. A dopemine high if I've ever had one.

The car is a good deal. Nothing like a slightly used car that was preowned by an elderly person who took good care of it and didn't use it a heck of a lot. I really don't think we could've survived another summer with just 3 cars for 7 of us, 6 who drive. (Lad has his own car)

Ernie said...

Kari - Thank you. I appreciate that. I woke up a little sad this morning, thinking about going there again and helping him wrap up that part of his life. My folks moved around quite a bit, but Uncle lived there for probably like 48 years - in the SAME HOUSE. That house has known some extreme sadness, but his neighbors are amazing people. I do hope and pray that he will enjoy being surrounded by all of us . . . Chicago winters - maybe not so much.

Ernie said...

Beth - It really is an amazing statue - it fits the story of little cousin so well, which is why I think they may have hired an artist to make it for them. Such heartbreak. I leave in the morning and I woke up today and felt the heavyness that comes with going to that house, along with knowing that Uncle has to say good-bye. Ed and I are planning to leave Sunday night after dinner to start the drive home, but there is a chance that we don't leave until Monday if I feel like Uncle needs more support. Pat is flying home with Dad and Uncle Monday. It's a lot. Thanks for the smooth transition vibe. I take Uncle to his first doc appointment here on Friday the 26th. My dad is insisting on coming along. Initially Dad said he would just take him. Whoa Nelly, we've had to tell Dad there are limits to what we are allowing him to do.

I look forward to hearing how much you rake after you've launched your new career.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I didn't know about the Dolphin connection, it's a lovely thing, though.
Your sweet uncle he's been through it and is still in it. Bless his heart; he has a cushy spot in heaven waiting for him, with lots of loved ones.
I'm glad he is moving to be closer to you guys; that will be good for him. Hard, but good.
Yay for the vehicle purchase...but dang-what a drive for you two. Safe travels

Ernie said...

Suz- Yes the dolphin boy story was something we all clung too when little cousin died. Their home has dolphin figures in every corner.

I think it will be nice for him to be surrounded by family but he has been so indecisive. Hope he is glad to be in the Windy City. He was born and raised there.

Eek. It is a long drive home. Thank you for the safe travel wishes. Much appreciated.

Bijoux said...

That's wonderful that he is moving close to be with family. I empathize with trying to downsize his belongings, figuring out what to keep and what to sell and how. We have been going through that the last few years and still have more family members to deal with.

Ernie said...

Bijoux - I think it will do wonders for him, but the fact that he has so many lifelong friends in Texas has made his move really challenging. I know my brother helped him zoom once already.

I was blown away at the state of things when we left. I guess the estate people deal with the rest? He isn't taking very much. I packed and shipped all the valuables to my folks' house months ago, because we weren't aware he'd be moving here and hiring a moving van. The house still had boxes of things like holiday decor and socks and papers. I took some of my cousin's art work. I just couldn't leave it all there. I do hope he will be happy that he moved. I take him for his first doc appointment tomorrow.