A Place That’s Uniquely My Own

It’s hard for people to understand one another because each of us come with particular problems, needs, and perhaps even assets that help define who we are. If we don’t take all that background information into consideration, we can never truly understand another person’s point of view. That’s a good thing for me to remember as a writer because it might make for a deeper character portrayal or put the story in a different light, but in real life, it’s not so interesting.

I talked to someone yesterday who harangued me for quite a while about my keeping the same contractor. The word “sucker” was even bandied about. To be honest, most people don’t approve of this particular choice, but they tend to keep their opinions to themselves. And admittedly, they do have a point since the contractor is way behind on the work he’s promised to do, but that’s not the issue here.

The person I talked to is young (well, younger), married, strong, has an extended family in the vicinity, has lived in the same area his whole life so he has a solid place in the community and knows where to go and who to call to get things done that he can’t do himself. He probably also has people who owe him favors from years back.

Then there’s me. Old. Alone. No family in the area. No ties to the community except those I’ve managed to secure in the past couple of years. No idea how to take care of a house or where to find honorable people who will get things done.

Not surprisingly, the only person who agrees with me about sticking with the same contractor is also an older widow with a house to take care of and no family nearby. She knows, because she’s been there, how almost impossible it is to find someone who will do all that is necessary, and who will respond to calls and concerns, and who will show up in an emergency. All of that is as important as the work getting done.

I do get frustrated at times, but the truth is, in some odd way, it doesn’t really matter. The work will get done. Or it won’t. Someone told me that the Chinese have a proverb that when your house is done, you will die. At the rate I’m going, I will live forever. (And, since I’m paraphrasing proverbs, the Irish have one they’ve used since the 1300s about better the devil you know.)

The other thing that’s hard to admit to anyone but myself is that I’m not sure I want the work to be finished. Certainly, I want the jobs that are started to be completed because I get tired of tripping over things that are in the way, but there is an excitement to having people come and work on my place and even offer suggestions. (Some of the unfinished projects are ideas they’ve come up with that I would never have thought of and that will vastly improve the accessibility of the property as I age.) It’s almost . . . familial . . . having someone else care about and get invested in creating a safe and attractive place for me to live out my final years.

And when the work is all done, that part of my life will be finished.

Perhaps these are simply excuses for keeping the status quo, but they’re my excuses, coming from a place and a point of view and a set of requirements that’s uniquely my own.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

4 Responses to “A Place That’s Uniquely My Own”

  1. Uthayanan Says:

    In French they say : “On ne change pas une équipe qui gagne” (never change a wining team)
    Meaning: French expression from the colloquial language of the late twentieth century which means that anything giving complete satisfaction cannot be questioned. So why you have to change your contractor.
    I have idea you and Jeff knows well about business and business administration. You can always make a comparative study of the present market and must be very sure any new contractors were reliable.
    My father in law never want to finish his house because he was afraid to die but died early before his wife. He was younger than his wife.
    Simply I can suggest or recommend to finish only the important factor to maintain your home.
    But I respect every body free to live there rythme and make their priority.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Luckily, most of the house is in great condition. There are only a few minor issues that need to be taken care of. Most of the work the needs to be done is outside, so it doesn’t really affect my daily life.

      And yes, I do know about business and business administration. And I do know how to make comparative studies. It just irritates me when people try to goad me into doing something I don’t want to do.

  2. Estragon Says:

    “Done” is sort of a foreign term to me, which I suppose is why the Chinese proverb resonates. Pretty much everything presents itself as something to be improved, learned about, or otherwise tinkered with. Nothing is ever really finished, just evolving.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      This reminded me of something my mother used to say when we would tell her we were done with an assigned task. “You mean you’re finished,” she’d say. “You were done ten years ago,” (Or however many years it had been since our birth.)

      But we’re never really done. Or even finished. As you say, everything, including us, is always evolving.

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