I recently purchased a 1930s home. I was seduced by its overflowing charm and delightful nooks and crannies. In my mind, it could never compare to a prefab, newer home. I moved in and reality reared its ugly head. I was losing patience with a trickling shower, an archaic radiator heating system that sounds like a swarm of bees when it first kicks into gear and what has to be the original doorbell that sounds like the mating call of a lovesick moose. Thankfully, I had an epiphany. As I walked up my creaking stairs, I realized that my middle-aged joints were making just as much noise as the floor beneath me. I decided to be a tad more empathetic for I, too, am experiencing a few of the same issues as my new, old house.
Older homes require frequent repairs and maintenance. Preventative measures are vital. It was advised to me that I seek out professionals who are knowledgeable about the complexities of the older home. The same holds true for this aging body of mine. I am past due for a colonoscopy. As a breast cancer survivor I believe I am tardy by five or so years…OK seven. I am also coming up on the annual “freak out” known as the chest MRI which thus far I have canceled twice for important issues such as getting my dog’s toenails trimmed. I need to practice some preventative measures or I could end up like the main waste pipe drain in the depths of the basement. My plumber (who I have seen so much he will be included in our holiday photo card) suggested I get it checked annually or I could be dealing with a lot of “stuff”. Good advice. Enough excuses.
I have a working wood-burning fireplace in my basement but it takes a bit longer to heat up–pretty much the same effect as losing estrogen. Also, having no central air and radiator heat will make you feel like you are going through menopause even if you aren’t. I can’t replace the system. Unless I want to donate a kidney, which is unlikely since I am already down a couple parts, or win the lottery, I will have to adjust to my old home’s heating issues. However, as I have informed many friends of similar age, you do not have to suffer. Medical advances for “keeping your cool” are abundant. The same holds true for moisture issues which personally could be remedied far faster than my damp basement.
A Bit Off
The electrical wiring is a bit off in my new abode. In fact, when your atheist handyman tells you to start praying, you know you are in for a rough ride. As I begin my daily ritual of looking for a working cell phone charger and my ever elusive car keys, I remind myself to give my old house some slack. Often my mind is as cluttered as my attic that would throw anyone with arachnophobia into therapy. The daily to-do list at times seems endless and my “nest” is far too empty now that the kids have flown off to new adventures. I have a built-in therapy dog in the form of a golden retriever. I have advised friends who are sans pooch and who are experiencing mental “clutter” of their own, that there are numerous resources available to clear the “cobwebs”.
I am still adjusting to my old house as I am my aging body. To close the door to the upstairs airing deck you have to strategically lean on it as you give it a mighty shove–pretty much the same technique I use when getting into my skinny jeans. The water still trickles (think 50 plus year-old jumping rope) but it has improved with maintenance. The house is also rock solid…literally. Hammering a nail into 1930s plaster should be considered an Olympic event.
Like my old home, I too have solidified in body and spirit. I think we should all treat ourselves and each other as if we are old houses and appreciate the abundant charm of our edifices with issues. For the countless imperfections and scuff marks are part of our treasured past. After spending time in this old house and body, I have come to embrace and celebrate its uniqueness that can only be achieved through the passage of time.
Mary Helen Darah is an award-winning columnist who has appeared in numerous publications in the Toledo area and beyond. Her column, The Mother of Mayhem, publishes on ProMedica HealthConnect each month.