November 18, 2003

// May 7th, 2010 // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Late last autumn (2002) Steve and I started prepping the kitchen for a minor remodel by removing the backsplash behind the shorter of the two counter tops. By then he was already tired all the time but there was nothing he wouldn’t set his hand to. The boredom of being on disability and being unable to hold down a regular job nearly killed him before the diabetes did!

That same week he even went out to weed whack the slope in front of the house. It took him a couple of hours and he felt better when he came in than when he went out. He had that gosh-I-feel-good-about-a-job-well-done kind of exhaustion. I could see a look of satisfaction settle onto his face as he leaned back into the sofa cushion, arm thrown back over his head. Before coming into the house he took off his fox-tail infested shoes and socks and set them on the pin ball machine that sits just outside the den sliding glass door on the patio. They have been there ever since. There’s so much junk on the pin ball machine that you can’t actually see the shoes when you’re out on there, but sometimes as I sit in the den with the curtain open I spy them there and a bitter-sweet wave washes over me.

When Steve and I started in the kitchen, our goal was to remove the entire back splash from both counters, sand the walls, and paint. We had a really good time working together; prying, bashing and ripping that 1950s material from the wall. His joking and light heartedness shown through and almost masked the fatigue and pain he always tried to hide.
Before the job could be completed, though, his fatigue got the best of him and he ended up in the hospital to treat an infected ruptured calcium deposit on his scalp. The ulcer was right at the lower edge of the baseball cap he always wore. That must be what made it so bad. The wound never had a chance to air out and was always being irritated by the cap edge, not to mention the germs on that edge. He spent a week hooked to an IV of powerful antibiotic, to no avail. The infection had to be removed surgically, taking with it one third of his scalp.
His vigor never returned after that and I lost the heart for finishing the job in the kitchen. Heck, I barely even took the time to do the dishes.

Well, this weekend (a year after starting the job) Dave finished prepping the kitchen and he got it painted all one color! Oh, the power of a paint sprayer! Amy and I are going to paint the base cabinets a darker color this week. It’ll be awhile before we put the upper cabinet doors back on but it’s all coming together! We even found the drawer pulls we wanted at IKEA at about a third of the cost they are at Home Depot.

It feels so good to be moving forward on a project. I do wish Steve could see it 🙂

From 2010 ~~
It has been nearly eight years since we started on the kitchen and though we have made great progress ~ paint, drawer pulls, new countertops, sink and faucet, and a new window over the sink, we still haven’t finished! The back splash area is still empty (I can’t find anything I really like!) and there are still no doors on the upper cabinets. I often think of my buddy Keri, who moved to Tennessee in 2003, when I see my doorless cabinets. She used to get crazy when I would leave the doors hanging ajar…..this would make her down right apoplectic!

And Steve’s fox-tail shoes and socks? I left them there on the pin ball machine until we did some work on the patio in 2008 and had to clear it off. Our Handy-Man friend Tony picked them up from the pin ball machine and started to drop them into the trash can. I panicked and yelled “Nooooooo!” startling the daylights out of Tony. I told him why they were there and he found a new place for them. Now they rest on top of a 1960s built-in BBQ on the patio. I rarely see them, but I know they’re there. Why? I have no idea. It’s just an old pair of shoes and socks, but I’m not quite ready to toss them out yet.



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