First of all.... sorry, sorry, sorry! I was a single parent from Friday morning until Monday afternoon... Paul was out of town (although, I did have lots of help from my mom, thanks mom) Then, yesterday and today has bee full of appointments. We had a post-placement visit from a social worker, (I can't believe we have had Emme six months already), 2 doctors appointments and a dentist appointment. Big surprise! AND, HELLO! I am supposed to be teaching my girls in the midst of this chaos! They are going to be dumber than a box of rocks!
So, back to Audrey and her house. If you are behind or new... read the 3 posts prior to this one.
Audrey's illness brought on an urgency to get her affairs in order. And, like I said earlier, I thought "affairs" meant cleaning up a cluttered apartment and getting rid of Harold's clothing, etc...
However, unbeknownst to us, Audrey had a house about 3 minutes from her apartment. She wanted to sell the house. This was to be the first thing she wanted my mom to help her with.
Picture any town USA. Full grown trees shading and lining a wide street. Old houses with inviting front porches, neighbors chatting on the porch while swinging on a porch swing, screened doors that squeaked when they were opened and slammed when they were shut, manicured lawns, beautiful flowers, kids playing kickball in the street while flags adorning the houses flapped in the gentle summer breeze.
Well, that's how I pictured Audrey's house back in the day. Even though her street was still beautiful, her house had become an eye sore. Someone, I believe some old friends down the street, still mowed the grass. However, the bushes were overgrown. The lawn was full of weeds. The house and the yard surrounding it showed no signs of life. It was a dreary, depressing sight... to say the least.
And, that picture I painted earlier, with the neighbors all hanging out, I am not so sure the neighbors were hanging out with Audrey and Harold. I think the neighbors who mowed the lawn were two of a very, very small handful of friends.
Despite the potential beauty of this house, it was never cared for properly. At some point, the plumbing in the house quit functioning and for whatever reason, they never fixed it. Without proper plumbing, it's hard to go to the bathroom and then flush the toilet. So it seemed, Audrey and Harold decided jars and bottle would double as toilets. Therefore, there were jars and bottles of urine laying all around the house.
The bathroom was disgusting. The bathtub was black from years of not being cleaned as was the toilet and the sink. As a matter of fact, at some point the bathtub doubled as a closet for more loads of toilet paper and paper towels than you can imagine. When nature calls, nature doesn't care nor does it know whether there is a proper place of disposal, so one better be prepared. I guess. I have tried not to spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.
Because the plumbing didn't work, they also did not have running water. Through reading letters, we figured out that Harold used to take the bus to the YMCA downtown and take a shower. And, Audrey, as best as we can guess, would take what my mom calls "whore baths." And... I'm going to leave that one to your imagination as well.
The rest of the house was trashed. There were dead raccoons lying around. They had crawled in through the chimney and apparently could not get back out. Because of this the house had a thick rank stench about it. Plus, it was full of dust, trash, papers, books, furniture, dishes, beds, nicknacks and on and on and on. Don't forget about the bottles and bottles of urine. Are you kidding me??!!
My poor mom didn't even know where to start. And, honestly, for awhile, she resented me getting her into this mess. But, in my wildest dreams, I could not have envisioned anything like this on that winter night when I met Audrey.
I may have taken one look at that house and walked right out. But, not my mom. She has a fierce determination when it comes to starting something and finishing it. If something is broken, she will fix it. With my mom, where there is a will, there is a way. Audrey didn't have anyone else. So, combine that with my mom's huge soft heart and.... challenge on!
So, my poor mom and Audrey were like the bling leading the blind trying to work their way through that mess. My mom has had a lot of health issues in the past plus she has a bad knee. Her and a 90 year old woman trying to clean up a mess like that.... See, the blind leading the blind!!
They decided to take one area and a time. They would work for as long as they both had energy.
My mom started by throwing away all the trash. Some things, we found out later, weren't trash, but one has to start somewhere. As she moved through the house, some of the "trash" was money waded up and stashed in odd places. My mom would bag it up and hand it to Audrey. I think it amounted to several hundred dollars.
After months and months of cleaning, it was time to call in an auctioneer. He came in and accessed the items, tagged them, etc...
The auction was held in October of 2002. I had mentioned earlier in the story that I was surprised and blessed with an unplanned pregnancy. And, because of feeling sick and living 45 minutes away, I had been unable to get to the house until the morning of the auction.
I will never forget what I saw when I pulled up. I had absolutely no idea.....
So sorry AGAIN! I have to sleep! I PROMISE more tomorrow!!