This cancer thing is wearing us out. Too often it’s our major topic of conversation. As Mike continues to astound his doctors, that’s so pointless. So, I believe God directed a new project to take our thoughts in a different direction.
It comes in the form of our cottage. Mike loves it. He has always loved it from the day he first walked inside. He loves it like the new boyfriend: he see no blemishes, he smells no mildew, those cracks in the ceiling? Laugh lines.
I’m less of a fan. You can’t keep the outside OUTSIDE so lake goo and insects get in. And, since the cottage has no insulation, we write some hefty checks during the coldest of the winter, to keep it just warm enough so the pipes don’t freeze. It’s 80 years old having been built on a slab, on a very shallow piece of ground. Over the years, similar cottages have settled and been razed or have received a completely new foundation. We talked about it. We got estimates. We planned to do the work and then Mike got sick and, well, it fell way off the radar. I mean, even with its cracks and creases, it’s a great place to stay.
Last summer, we finally moved up there and lived, only driving back to Kokomo occasionally. It was glorious. So what if the windows stick and there’s no central air and torrential early rains had ducks swimming in the yard? We had a great time. We have great friends on the lake. Mike loves his cottage. More importantly, when he’s there, it’s healing. It always has been.
The cottage has hot water heat which, I must say, is very effective. When we drop by in the winter, just 5 minutes of turn up and the place is cozy. Or that’s always been the case. This fall, I noticed that the upstairs was not warming up like it should. I also saw some weird blue stuff on a pipe leading to a radiator. Oh well, I figured, it’s just another old thing.
I paid a large water bill in October. I remember thinking that it must have included September when we spent our weekends there.
I paid another one in November. I knew we had not been up to the lake so I called Mr. Water Company Guy, who drove right out to investigate. He reported that he found no leak but it looked like we were using the amount we might use if a toilet was left running. We drove up, jiggled the handles, and came home. The next water bill was less. So, that must have fixed it, I figured.
Then, the NEXT bill came and it was higher than October. We needed to figure this out. Nephew Caleb, a man with amazing fix-it instinct and skill, investigated. He reported that the floor in the kitchen was all bowed and sunken. He decided to check the crawl space under the house. Oh. Uh-oh.
He found that the entire crawl space (12 inches deep) was filled with steaming hot water. He had to drain it before he could move further. Then, he found a break in a water line, under the dining room. By now, the shift of the house had caused other things to happen. In the upstairs, it was raining. Leaks and pools of water were all over the place. With it, mold was flourishing on walls, clothes, bedding, you name it.
Down in the kitchen, Caleb tried to check the plumbing and when he bumped into the major cabinet, it broke loose from the floor which fell into the crawl space.
How much more do you want?
Reports were flying between Winona Lake and Kokomo. And Kokomo and Insurance Ville. And Insurance Ville and Winona Lake. Reports were flowing through Mike (who, let’s face it, is not a detail person) and me. And, of course, Mike was seesawing between Week On, Week Off of chemo. On those ON weeks, he got so tired, he might be deep asleep when I got home and awaken after businesses were closed.
We connected (again: we’ve had two other clean up adventures) with David Lee, a Servicemaster genius who was ready to start work as soon as we determined what needed to be done. Mike tried to figure out what our insurance would pay. One real consideration was that if, we needed to pay over a certain amount, it would make more sense to tear it down. Honestly, that would have been my vote on the first day of this adventure. For Mike to arrive at that assessment, well, that was heart breaking.
The bad news kept coming. (I promise I’m almost done.) It turns out that the floor joists are rotten, have been rotten for quite a time and must, MUST, be replaced. Tearing up the entire first floor. Mr. Insurance Guy says that our coverage does NOT cover that. So we waited for a number. More discussion of tearing down the cottage. And, another chemo week with all that THAT brings.
Then, we got the number. Yes, we can afford it. But SHOULD we? We paused. We prayed.
Then, my question to the hub: Do you think we might get another summer?
Me: Then, let’s do it.
So, that’s what we’re going to do. More than that, I believe that’s what God wants us to do. I spent several hours yesterday going over the estimate from Mr. Lee. I checked off or wrote questions in the margin and we will clear those up on Monday.
The work begins this week. That coincides with Mike’s decision to take a vacation from chemo. And although we would think these two decisions were separate, I believe it’s all part of the Coordinated Plan for Mike and Lynne.
Early on, Mike's first idea was that I would oversee the work. (“from Kokomo?” I don’t ask such questions out loud.) His new plan is that HE will oversee the work. So much better for both of us. Isn’t that just like God?
No matter what else occurs, the Lake Cottage will be fresh and new and ready for summer.