Saturday, February 16, 2013

Not Feeling Alone in Our House

One night not long after we moved into our house, Anthony woke up and heard music downstairs. He woke me up and asked me whether I could hear it. Yes, I heard Jonathan’s music book the one you press the button, and it plays silly songs like “Down by the station, early in the morning…” and so on. The funny thing was it kept playing again and again several times. The next day, we joked that maybe Lucille was down there playing. The next night before I went to bed, I said into the air, “Lucile, if it’s you, we don’t mind. But don’t scare us at night. Please help us and protect us.” Then we never heard anything more. I was curious to check if the book had ran out of batteries; it had not. After that, the book did not play by itself anymore.
     I always felt sorry that we did not have the chance to pay respects at her grave where she was buried in her hometown. A few days before her death, her older brother and nephews drove six hours from New Hampshire to say goodbye to her and asked her what her wishes were after her death. Then they drove back to NH on the same day. I was hoping they could stay at her house and go to the hospital every day until she died since it was her last days and she never married and had no other family members around. They told us that they already made arrangements to transfer her body back home after she died.
     Marjorie and Lucille were housemates for most of their lives. Marjorie could not drive or cook; Lucille loved to drive and cook. They shared a two-bedroom house and half of their expenses. I thought that was very good compared to living alone.
     Not long after that music incident. I dreamed that we were walking around this flower garden. Then we turned a corner and went into this tiny door and tiny space that looked like a fireplace. Lucille’s bed was half out and half into the fireplace. She was lying in her bed and I could only see her upper body and she seemed very crowded in that bed and she couldn’t even turn over. We too hardly had any space to stand by her. I felt a draft come in from the door behind me so I tried to close the door and push my body inside. Then Lucille said that there was room next door with a double bed for us to stay. Yes, indeed. I saw this sizable double bed when we walked into the next room. I woke up. When she was alive, she told me that Marjorie’s family’s cemetery plots only had room for one person. She and her single daughter would have to fight over that one plot. If there was more room she didn’t mind joining her in her family plot. 

    Marjorie was married to an Afro-American singer in the 1930s in New York City. Both sides of their family disowned them afterward. Soon after she had her daughter, her husband died in a flu epidemic. She had a very hard life bringing up her daughter in New York City. Unfortunately, her older sister had a genetic disease and died young. Finally, she inherited their family farm, which she had no interest in. She called her cousin somewhere in the Midwest. She told her cousin that he could have the farm for free if he was willing to take her family name. Her ancestor took Mayflower to this new land and she was hoping her cousin would take the land. But he said, “this soil is not fertile and no thank you.” Then he flew back home. Every time Marjorie talked about this, she had tears in her eyes. Her nearby cousin would only admit they were friends in public and not related today.
     I tried to comfort her by saying see how many friends she has now. They are all your family. Yes indeed, she spent her whole life building friendships around the world. She even had some government agent visit her doorstep once when she tried to sell friendship yarns from Russia back in the 1970s. She was working for UNICEF as a social worker all her life. Lucille was a director of a daycare. They traveled around world. They had a good home and nice orderly life.
Lucille holding Jonathan’s hands and Rebecca’s son Joshua in front of Marjorie.  I was baby-sitting and keeping the elders company.
     Our house had all carpets on the first floor, the former owner had pets.  Although it looked clean, I could still see the stains and smells after professional carpet cleaning.  I bought a carpet steamer myself and cleaned a few more times.  One afternoon, I was watching the soap "General Hospital" while Jonathan was taking a nap.  It was 90 degrees outside and I felt that all I smelled was a mix of cat's urine and carpet shampoo.  I could not stand this smell any longer.  I got up and looked at the carpet at the end of the wall next to the TV, and I gently pulled it up and it was easy.  Only the edge had a strip of wood with small nails attached to the carpet.  I could see the hardwood floor underneath.  Oh, this carpet was not glued to the floor.  I could easily put the whole thing out. The hardwood floor looked perfect. I was so sick and tired of this smelly carpet and why I did not find out this when we moved in.  After hundreds of dollars spent, I should have pulled this dirty carpet out before I moved in. So I started pulling and moving the sofa and furniture around. Very soon, I rolled up the carpet in the living room and dining room. Only I was surprised that the dining room did not have a nice hardwood floor underneath, but old green and white tiles, but still better than the dirty carpet.  I was trying to pull the rolled up rugs outside of the house, the living room to the front door and the dining room to the back door.  The rug stuck in the little turn at both doors, and no matter how I pulled it, the rugs would not move.  It was over 90 degrees; I was very tired and had to give up.  Anthony came home; he saw a half-pulled rug stuck in both the middle of the front and back doors.  "What did you do, Ying?"  I replied, " I am sick and tired of these smelling rugs and I had it; I want you throw them all out".  He was upset -- "why didn't you tell me so I could do it in on a cooler day. You have to do this today...we ended up spending more money on putting a new hardwood floor in dinning room.
       Our house was over 100 years old, a colonial, and it needed a lot of repairs.  We spent a lot just to fix the plumbing. We had planned to buy a bigger car and some new furniture such as a dining room set.  Our front porch was leaking somewhere since we could see water stains on the ceiling.  One day, I opened the window in the upstairs bedroom, and looking out, I could see a few small holes on the roof tiles. Oh, that must cause the leak. The only thing I had in the house was silicone caulking for the bathroom tiles.  That would do it for now, so I climbed out of the window with my bare feet for a better grip.  I started filling those holes with the caulking. A voice was calling on the street -- one of my neighbors drove by and stopped in the middle of the road.  "Ying, Ying, are you OK? can I help you with anything?..." She was very concerned about me since I was three months pregnant with Richard.  She was afraid that I would jump down from there. It took me a few minutes to figure out her concern since she did not want to move on.  I assured her that I was OK.  Anthony came home upset again asking me what I was doing up there on the roof...