After our house was remodeled to handicap specifications, I had had it with workers in the house! My husband’s condition worsened, he died, and the last thing I wanted to do was keep up with repairs, because that meant having workers in the house again. So for years I let things go, no more visiting doctors/nurses/respiratory people/ambulance personnel and the like. And people that rip out walls and build wheelchair ramps and tell you it’ll take a month and its winter and you don’t have a toilet and it takes three months but I digress. Point? I did without calling repair people. Two and a half years went by.
I erected a sign over the bathroom sink: DO NOT USE!!! It leaked. If you ran water in the sink, you’d have puddles on the floor. I didn’t need the mess or the bill. I paid for water.
Then there was the hall light. The switch just stopped working. It’s an important hall-it has 2 closets, 2 bedrooms, and a bathroom door and at the end of it; the kitchen and living room. That means there’s a switch on one end of the hall and another switch on the opposite end of the hall. Both were dead after he died. We took to feeling the walls like blind people. Its true-our sense of touch became heightened. So if we had to pee in the middle of the night, tough luck, we felt our way in the dark; for years we did that rather than call an electrician.
Well that wasn’t all our issues. (House-wise I mean.) We were short a few knobs. The front storm door was missing its handle. The cat often let himself out. You pushed it. It didn’t have a handle. As for the inside entry way door that opens into the living room, same problem. No handle. Just a hole where the knob should’ve been. Let’s say you had your arms full with a clothes basket. Just push and the door would give way. No need to turn knobs in this house. Push with a shoulder. No need to turn a handle. It doesn’t latch.
Finally the repair guys were alerted (by the landlord) they came in troves; and darned if they didn’t fix EVERYthing! Who would’ve thunk a few repairs could’ve upset our delicate balance?
The sink ran again… No leaks!
Fixed the hall switches. No need to feel our way. We could see. The light switches worked!
We got doorknobs!!!!
BUT guess what! Everyone STILL felt around at night. I know this because I asked my housemates and we compared each others’ experiences: “What? You are doing it too? Refusing to use the light switch? Still feeling in the dark as we have been doing these few yrs.? Thought it was just me. How odd…..” We didn’t flick the switches, though they’d been repaired. We all reported the same experience. That’s not all.
Since our bathroom sink was out of order so long it was odd to use it. We avoided it. It’s only normal to forget it was perfectly okay. I found myself brushing my teeth in the tub, spitting out in the toilet. Habit I suppose. My son’s friend used the toilet and washed his hands in the kitchen sink. “It’s okay, you can use the bathroom sink. The sign is gone, didn’t you notice?” I said. “NO!” he replied. I assured him the sign was gone and it was all running smoothly.He said he would try to remember but it would take some getting used to such a luxury…But as for all of us who knew it had been fixed, we felt funny using it. Creatures of habit continue those habits. They died hard. We could not use the freely running sink for some time. It didn’t seem right.
As for the front doors… The cat used to let himself out at midnight. He was disturbed about that. I am not a believer in letting cats out so I am glad he could no longer pry open the door now that it latched but the poor guy, he can’t figure out why, that no matter how hard he tried to claw at the door, it just wouldn’t open the way it used to. It latched now, it had a brand new knob. He didn’t get that. He though he was an ‘unmanly’ cat. He got frustrated unable to open it and he tried and tried; then gave up and went and swatted the dog in the head and lay down confused and a little angry.
As for us, we had a good deal of body memory, ”muscle memory” to be exact. It was a good long while before we shed it. Even our visitors had the muscle memory which I find interesting indeed since I didn’t think they visited enough to have it.
If anyone came into the home with our arms full, we expected to give the door a shove with our foot, or alas, a nudge but NO we smacked into the immovable door and snubbed our noses painfully because it did not budge anymore. It became a normal door. It was funny when our guests arrived and nudged the door, expecting it to slide open knobless, and SMACK it was immovable and they’d bump their faces against it! The knob was in plain view but the body was doing what it always had—-body memory at work. “Ow I keep forgetting you have a knob now! I just walked right into the door!”
“Yeh yeh we keep doing that doing that too.”
After the repairs I decided to embrace more changes. I managed to paint my living room and put down a snazzy carpet with squares within squares. I was alone with three kids, changes came about and we all survived. I’d come a long way from my teenage years when I would sit in the orange kitchen of my childhood home in the dead of night, with insomnia, waiting for my mouse friend to appear on the counter; or the stove top; examining the skin of an onion with tiny hands.
I was “going on” as they say. It was hard to do that because as I discovered, body memory is a powerful thing. The body will do what it has done so change is a slow thing because the head has memory too. Nonetheless a person laughs, lives and loves too. I’m engaged now. Change can be wonderful.