As each day went by, it became absolutely obvious to me that the chap to whom I had hoped to sell the house was not going to fulfill the intent-to-purchase agreement. I had already begun preparing for this eventuality. All I needed to do was to move forward with my plan.
He referred a potential tenet to rent the mother-in-law apartment in the basement. I certainly could have used the rent to help offset the mortgage payment. However, I had to be careful that I didn’t get someone locked into a lease in case I sold the house to buyers that didn’t want that particular tenet. It could potentially thwart a sale.
I felt caught between a rock and a hard place. I really didn’t want anyone living in the house with a long term lease. My primary goal was to sell the house. That’s what I was trying to keep in focus.
Imperceptibly at first, at some unrecognized time during the extensive and difficult process of refurbishing the old crack house, I had started to slowly warm towards the old house. I was completely unaware of this change in my feelings, and at first I would have denied them.
Although the house had presented me with many problems and much anxiety, at the same time it had slowly found a place into my heart. I liken it to a new puppy that has chewed your best shoes, had a accident on your oriental rug and barked at all the wrong times while keeping you up at night. You still love it. In fact, it seems the more problems it gives you, the more determined you become, and in the process, it works its way into your affection.
My business partner had made it crystal clear that he had no interest in moving into this house. We had no buyer for our current home. We had spent substantial money remodeling it and a lot of time and effort bringing the workshop up to working standards. We would not have done so had it been our intention to sell it.
However, I could tell that he had begun to take a liking to the house also. He had been actively involved in helping rehab the house from the beginning. His primary skill-set was on the business side, but he frequently pitched in as a helper. He was a big help with painting and staining. His patience with these trades was not only a god-send, but an absolute necessity due to the shear amount of work that had to be done.
Every single room in the house had to be repainted. Hundreds of feet of trim, coving, baseboard, and woodwork also had to be stained. The fact that he was able to do all of this freed me up to do the designing, building and installation of all the woodwork.
Sid my other helper was busy in the shop with various commissions that I had sold in order to help finance the remodeling project and keep him busy while he found a job.
I would help him get the project to a point that he could handle it himself and take it to near completion. Then my business partner would do the final sanding and staining.
I had to learn how to delegate, and loosen the reins to allow both of them to come into their own developing their own skills and talents. I have to admit that it was very difficult to let go, let them struggle, make their mistakes, and learn from them. My role was simply to guide, correct and move on. I had no alternative because it was simply impossible for me to do all the work alone. Never-the-less, I had to be sure the final project was going to meet the standards I set and our clients expected.
Although this presented many challenges, it was very rewarding to pass on my self-taught skills and crafts to them.
To this day, I feel one of the greatest rewards and pleasures I gained from all this, was to pass these skills and talents onto both Sid and my business Partner, TJ. They truly came into there own and rose to the challenge. In some ways, they not only equaled but surpassed me, because they had the opportunity to specialize in specific areas of woodworking. I know no greater reward or honor than to be able to teach someone something and have them excel at the task. I feel very strongly that if we don’t share our craft and talents with others, we will not be challenged ourselves and our trades will wither and die.
No one would ever take the time to show me how to do woodworking and I vowed while struggling and teaching myself that if I ever had the chance I would freely and without hesitation teach what I had learned. To this day I teach beginning woodworking for free. I only charge those who have experience. To me, the most rewarding is teaching the beginning woodworkers. I find no better way to improve my woodworking skills than to teach someone else.
With the tight timetable, I simply couldn’t have done this project alone. I had to have helpers, and the best way to make a helper into a craftsman is to teach them the craft.
The house was coming closer to being done.
I could finally see the end.
I was exhausted, out of money and was ready to move onto the next phase which would be selling the house. Although I really had started to like the house, I knew that I had to sell it because of the financial reality and lack of any other viable alternative.
As I neared completion and began working on punch list items I began to reflect on the journey thus far. While in the thick of the battle I had no time to reflect on the journey, but now that the end of the project was soon upon me, I could look back and enjoy it. I realized how I had been so focused on the end result and daily challenges that I had missed most of the trip that got me to this point.
When I reached this point of completion of the project, for some reason I expected that I would feel complete joy and a sense of accomplishment. While I certainly felt some relief from the pressure to complete the project, I wasn’t feeling what I had expected.
In hind sight I wish I had enjoyed the journey to the end a lot more. The end of the project was merely a destination and I realized I failed to take in and enjoy the journey along the way more. I could only reflect back on the project. I was keenly aware how much I really missed because I was so focused on the end result.
In short, the completion of the project was an uneventful letdown.
What a valuable lesson I had learned.
The reality was that it was too late now; I couldn’t return to the beginning. I only had my memories. Fortunately, I also had several hundred pictures and a video to which I could refer.
I vowed to someday write about the experience in detail.
One of my constant companions on this project was my big male Basset Hound, Spike Lee and his litter mate sister Sammy. Each and every day they were on the job with me. They had their own beds that I made them and shared with me the mess day in and day out. For the most part, they got in the way. They liked to drag pieces of wood and my tools all over the job, inevitably finding all the wet paint with their long floppy ears.
Many days they were the only relief I had from all the headaches and pressures I had been feeling while doing the project. They seemed to know when to come around and make me smile and when to stay their distance.
During the last week of the project, it was very hard for Spike Lee, my male Basset to make the trip over to the house. I had to put him in his wagon and take him over to the job. Most days he never left the wagon sleeping in it all day. He was old, and I knew this was not a good sign. I had taken him to the vet and all they could say is enjoy him as much as you can because they felt he didn’t have much time left.
This was very painful for me to think about.
I tried not to.
I was finishing the last thing on the house before it was completely done and ready to be put on the market. That morning I tried to get the Basset Hounds up and ready to come over to the house with me.
Spike Lee would come. He just slowly waked to a saw dust pile I had and lay down.
Sammy went with him.
I finished the project that morning and decided to take Spike Lee to the vet.
I picked him up and carried him to my car wrapped in a blanket and took him to the vet.
He never came home with me.
A big part of me was left there on the floor as I held him as he took his last breaths.
I sat there with him, tears rolling down my cheeks for over a hour, alone with just him.
Somehow, he held on until the project was completed.
I had lost my best bud.
The completion of the house project somehow seemed so unimportant; but unforgettable.
Little did I know what was ahead.
Copyright… all rights reserved D.Jerzak 05/10/07