The carpet guys started in Miss Cathy’s room, which meant putting ALL of her furniture into my little room (no bigger than Anne Frank’s domicile) while they ripped up the (blood) red carpet and padding. As they worked from room to room, hallway to closets the old flooring gave way to the new. The carpet had lain there for decades so I was surprised that it surrendered so easily, I thought it would be like prying a riffle out of Charlton Heston’s cold, dead hand but it came up without a fight.
During that marathon day the installers only took a half hour break for lunch, otherwise pretty much working straight through from 11:00 am till 7:00 pm. I did give them ice water and cut up some apple slices that I shared with them (I guess a little of the suburban hostess lives deep down inside of me).
I helped move furniture and when not needed I (deep) cleaned everything (when else was I going to have a chance to clean behind (and sometimes the bottom of) such heavy furniture.
By 4 pm I was ecstatic to see the carpet go down in the living room-no more baby blue carpet to ignore and design “around” as if it didn’t exist. At 4:30 pm I got a call from Miss Cathy asking if I was on my way to pick her up. In her defense I should have called her earlier (but forgive me I was trapped behind all of the living room furniture piled into the dining room and forgot about her).
She was none too pleased when I told her that the “surprise” was taking longer than I thought, I asked if she could just “hold tight” for a little while longer and I would pick her up “soon”. She grumbled a bit but I wasn’t really listening I was so focused on getting off the phone so I hurry the guys up.
By 6pm there were still finishing touches left to do on the hallway, closets and my little room. I was starting to get overwhelmed (evidenced by the sweat that started early in the day but was now full on flop sweat) with helping the installers finish, cleaning, putting things back and now having to contend with a mother anxious to come home. I was not looking forward to calling her back.
When I called the first thing she said was that she was “ready”-I told her I wasn’t, that it would be more like 7 pm before I got there and by her reaction you’d think I was the governor denying her appeal from getting the electric chair- I wondered if the other Ty felt like this when he was getting a home ready to view on Extreme Makeovers.
At 7:30 pm the installers were finished laying all the carpet and then they helped me put the heavier pieces of furniture back and the mattresses and beds back in place. As they left I gave them each a $10.00 tip- keeping twenty dollars in my pocket that I’d originally planned to give them but I was still miffed about being kept waiting so I kept the money as my own “Ty tip”. With them gone, I couldn’t do a barefoot happy dance on the new carpet; no I didn’t have time for any of that.
I spent the next half hour putting the bric back as best I could, giving up on opening another box after I noticed time ticking away on a clock I’d unpacked. I settled for trying to “dress” the living room so that at least there would be one space intact for the “reveal”.
With no time to shower and change, I splashed some water on my face and without so much as a spritze of cologne I was off to pick up Miss Cathy, dust and sweat my only accessories. True to form, she was sitting outside in a lawn chair in her friend’s garage waiting for me. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that this day was (in fact) all for her and pinned on a nice smile as I got out to greet her.
I made a detour to Kentucky Fried Chicken, thinking a bucket of the Colonel’s greasiest and finest would distract my passenger-I never saw Pennington and the like have to placate their families with a chicken wing but so be it.
She actually thawed out a little in the car-she was probably thrown by my actually talking to her on the ride home. Once we arrived I raced ahead (well, I didn’t have to race because after all this is “toddle along” Miss Cathy we’re talking about) to “fluff” and “tszuj” before she got to the door.
Once she was at the threshold I had her take her shoes off, close her eyes and hold my hand as I led her into the living room (by her halting steps you’d think she’d never set foot into her own home before). I felt just like the TV hosts leading the unsuspecting homeowners inside.
She opened her eyes and then…….nothing, like the book case that I “revealed “ to her a few weeks previously she didn’t quite get what she was suppose to see immediately but unlike the bookcase (where I had to tell her what was new in the room) she looked around, then down and said, “Oh…my….God!” Her face was a mix of wonder, shock, (horror?) and pure pleasure at what she as seeing.
Her reaction for the next half hour or so made all the sweat, pushing and pulling worth it. She walked from room to room looking at the carpet as if it might morph back into the old flooring, saying that now she knew what had taken so long and was surprised that so much was done in so “little” time. She was stunned and just so happy hugging me that I no longer cared that I smelled like the old, rolled up carpet that earlier lay like a corpse outside ready to be carted off to wherever they end up.
I reminded her that this was a present from both Tony and I (mostly me) and I could hear her telling the story of her surprise and how “blessed” she was for the next several hours as she called everybody she could think of.
The new carpet was by far the most dramatic of the changes that were to occur. Since that day there have been new custom faux-wood blinds installed to go with the silk drapes, new furniture for her bedroom and stainless steel range, over the counter microwave and refrigerator in the kitchen just in time for New Years’.
Currently I’m in the process of removing all the old wallpaper and painting the entire apartment. The dining and living rooms are painted and I’m working my way down the hall to the bathrooms and bedrooms.
She’s been a trooper with all the chaos, adapting quickly to the changes as I box up her things, peel, prime and paint around her.
With each new “reveal” Miss Cathy’s reaction has only grown and she seems happier with each change that I’ve made. I’m not done yet but we’re still early into the “New Year”. At present I’m under budget and over joyed with the results.