Hanging with the Old Guys

I didn’t sleep great last night, and I didn’t sleep great the night before, either. Maybe I’m getting to that point some people get to where they don’t sleep all that well away from home. I don’t know.  I slept upstairs in the smaller room, the one on the right when you come up the stairs.  I think it was Uncle Steve’s last because there are a lot of things in the room with his name on it.  Dad told me last night that it had originally been Uncle Tom’s. He got this room because he was the oldest and the other three boys slept in two beds in the other room, the one where my dad slept last night. When Tom moved out Dad got it. At some point in the not-too-distant future, the place where I am right now, lying on a bed in a room on the second floor of this house, will be a nondescript space in the air above a vacant lot.

I stayed in bed until about 8:00 this morning and went downstairs to join Dad and Baba in the living room that was once Aunt Terry’s room and was also Grandma Harper’s room. It’s the room where Baba’s mother died in her sleep at the age of 84 or 85.

Last night, on the trip up, my dad asked me if I remembered Grandma Harper. I told him I remembered her some. I remembered being afraid of her when I was little because she was so old and wrinkled and her knuckles were swollen and she was in a walker. I wish I hadn’t felt that way. I was her great-grandson, and by many accounts I was the most beautiful baby some people had ever beheld, so I’m sure she adored me. I just hope I never made her feel bad.

I also told him that I remembered asking to go to her funeral and my dad telling me I couldn’t. I must have been six or seven. He asked if I remembered any reason he gave, and I told him I didn’t.  He said it was probably that he thought I was too young.

Anyway, I joined Dad and Baba. They were talking about her upcoming move to the assisted living place and at one point she said something about moving there and waiting to die. Dad told her she shouldn’t think like that and talked about a lot of the activities they have there. For example, every now and then they’ll take people out shopping, but Baba said that since she didn’t walk well she wouldn’t want to go out. We pointed out to her that everyone there would be at least as old as she is and probably older, and that none of them are likely to be the best walkers.

Dad went to get some biscuits from McDonald’s for breakfast. Baba pointed out that the McDonald’s he was going to was one where they and Pap had gone after something. An Easter service, I want to say?  I guess it was one while he was still relatively healthy. I don’t know. At any rate, after Dad left I pulled out the computer to show Baba some pictures from the last couple months. Lots of them were Milly, of course, but it also included a bunch from when Andra’s crew visited, so it included her other great-grandkids as well. After Dad got back and we ate I went outside to take some pictures, but it started raining before I could get much. I’m going to try again tomorrow, as well as walk around the house to get pictures of rooms and just random stuff.

Dad and Baba had a conference call with the other siblings as well as an attorney and a Veteran’s Administration advocate (or some such). For about an hour they discussed what was going to happen with the money from the sale of the house. The thing is, there’s a VA assistance program that will give Baba $1000 a month for the rest of her life to help with the expenses needed for her care (which they wished they knew about while Pap was in nursing homes towards the end of his life), but to get them she has to have less than $40,000 in assets. Long story short, the money from the house will go to a trust fund and she’ll have a little over three years worth of money to pay for her living expenses, then as she needs more, money from the trust fund, which will likely be in Steve’s care (since he lives the closest) will be used to keep it going.

I like how Uncle Bernie explained to her after the lawyer and advocate got off the phone that their goal was to make sure she lived as comfortably as possible for as long as she lives. All of this was just being presented to Baba for the first time, but it’s something they’ve been working on for quite some time. Dad spent a lot of time after everyone had hung up trying to explain it to her so she’d understand it, but Baba just kept saying she trusted them all. That’s great and all, but he wanted to make sure she understood what they’re doing with her money and why.

After that we went out to run some errands. One of the things we did was to go to Insight, the local cable company, to finally get Pap’s name removed from the bill and to schedule a transfer of service.  When the assisted living care place was mentioned the girl who was helping us said that it’s a really nice place and that her grandmother often visits a friend of hers there. Another lady, who came over to help with the transfer, also said she had heard great things about the place. I hope it made Baba feel more comfortable about it.

We made a couple other stops, including one to pick up some Sir Pizza (a tradition on every visit to Lexington) for lunch. Dad and I went back out after a bit so he could pick up some shoes. We also looked for a photo scanner with an automatic feed so you could put a stack of pictures on it and just let it go to work, but we didn’t find one that was suitable.

On the way back we stopped by Kroger’s to pick up a prescription for Baba. While Dad did that I walked to a smoothie place right next to it. The shopping center it pretty close to Baba’s house, and the last time the whole family had come up we had all walked up there. We thought it would become another Lexington tradition, but I guess not.

Since it was close by, we also stopped at Pat and Peggy Payne’s house. They’re some good friends of my parents’ and really just great, down to earth people. Pat wasn’t home, but Peggy was, so we talked to her for a bit. We also comefirmed that we were going to go to Thursday Night Live, a thing downtown with lots of drinks and live music. Pat had mentioned it to my dad earlier.

We went back to Baba’s house and I decided I needed to rest my eyes. I might have fallen asleep for half an hour or so. Bernie was there when I woke up and he, Dad and I went over to the Paynes’ and from there we went downtown.

It was a lot of fun going downtown with those guys. At least one of them seemed to know someone every five feet we walked, and it was cool to see them all having such a great time catching up with people. I talked to an old friend of my dad’s who was a roommate of his. My cousin Shelby, Bernie’s daughter, also came out. We talked to her, some friends of hers and two of Pat and Peggy’s boys. We had run into some of them before Shelby got there and Dad told them, most of them being UK students, that I’m a Duke fan. I asked my dad if he was trying to get someone to beat me up, but then I’d turn it around on him and say it was his fault for raising me in Durham. When we met back up later with them later and someone, maybe Shelby, was introducing us, one of them, I think a cousin on the other side of her family, said, “Yeah, the Duke fan.” It was all in good fun.

After we left there we went back to the Paynes’ house and had a few drinks. We spent a bit of time at the house of the guy who lives behind Pat and Peggy. Whitfield, or Whit, was his name I think.  He and Kyle, a friend of Bernie’s who stopped by after we saw him downtown, had a whole bunch of stories about prominent people they knew. It was really interesting and funny to listen to them talk the way only two strangers who have had a bit to drink can talk.

After a bit, Dad and Pat ended up inside while Bernie, Peggy and I sat outside on their porch. We talked about lots of things: relationships, work, kids… whatever. We finally left just before midnight. I offered to give Bernie the bedroom I was in, but he wouldn’t have it and decided to sleep in the living room on a couch.

My dad asked if I’d had a good time, and I told him I had, that it was really entertaining to listen to a bunch of old guys bullshit with each other. He nodded and said that’s exactly what it was, just a bunch of guys bullshitting with each other. Seriously good times.

I talked to Amanda a couple times. She and Milly went to Brilliant Sky and Amanda said Milly had been really good. She’s asked about me a couple times, but hasn’t gotten upset at me not being there, which is good. I can’t wait to see my little girl’s face when I show back up at the house though. And speaking of her face, everyone to whom I showed a picture of her talked about what a pretty child she is.

Hurricane Irene is still up in the air somewhat. (Pun half-intended.) She seems to have turned back to the west some, which is not good for us. Amanda told me that Carolina Beach and Oak Island are evacuating. It’s supposed to hit as a category 2 or 3 Saturday morning. Michael and Jenn are going to go stay with Amanda, figuring it’s better to stay in a house than the top floor of an apartment.  That should help keep Milly entertained during whatever part of the storm comes through. Amanda’s only real worry is that 40 might flood and keep me from getting back to Wilmington.

Duke played the United Arab Emirates National Team today and won handily, though from what I’ve read they looked sloppy doing it. I’ve got it DVR’ed back at home, so I’ll watch it at some point after I get home.

Zach Dotsey