93        By April, Sheila and I were adjusting to what needed to happen next. Christine's condition had stabilized since her stroke nearly a year ago, but the stroke left her only able to walk with difficulty and nearly unable to speak. We knew she wanted to be home and we knew Sheila wanted to care for her in the old family home. But we had a problem. Our household goods were in Flippin and Christine's house was full to the gills. What should we do to the house and how should we do it? The house was not ready for Christine although Christine was ready for the house. The solution lay in the Christine’s bank account.

94        Initially, we decided on a very conservative approach. "Let's make a wheelchair ramp so we can get her into the house," Sheila said initially. The previous summer, when Sheila had tried to care for Christine alone, Sheila had found it very difficult to help Christine walk up the three steps at the back door. I considered a couple different options one of which I'm glad we did not select. We consider putting a complex wheelchair ramp in the carport. That would've been a disaster. Instead, we decided to put the wheelchair ramp at the front door. The wheelchair ramp would become a big joke with our workers. Why? It was one of the last things completed.

95        "We need to pull out the carpet in daddy's bedroom and make the bathroom handicap accessible," Sheila suggested. As we considered our options we decided to begin on this project. Other rooms in the house were quite crowded with furniture of remodeling the bathroom in the front corner bedroom would be a fairly simple task. I'm not saying that remodeling the bathroom is easy. It's just fairly straightforward. Pulling up the carpet in the bedroom to make it more wheelchair friendly would also be a fairly simple task. With that in mind we prepared to start. Those three tasks would be the basis for all remodeling job, a wheelchair ramp out front, handicap accessible bathroom, and pulling the carpet off the floor and redecorating what would become Christine's room.

My experience in modeling

96        Back in 1983 and 1984 I had been involved in two large home remodeling projects. I knew exactly what to expect but I was careful not to push Sheila too hard knowing that we were about to begin a major remodeling project which would involve the entire house. Homeowners tend to think in specifics, in terms of small projects they'd like to get done such as a wheelchair ramp, handicap accessible bathroom, and remodeled bedroom. I knew from the start that this would only be the beginning. Why? I been through this before and I knew that the entire house needed work. But initially Sheila was not ready to commit to an extensive remodeling project. In reality, we should have gone one step further it time and put on a new roof. But we left that project for the next round of remodeling.

97        In the 1980s, I been involved in two similar projects, Dr. Duncan's house and Dr. Albert’s house. Dr. Duncan had wanted to remodel a kitchen but by the time we finished his house in Alice, Texas, only one room still have the same four walls. We had added a 20 foot square bedroom on the back of the house, extended the master bedroom a few feet and added a huge master bath on the end of the house and torn out the petition dividing two-bedrooms and bathroom in the previously remodeled garage and reconverted it into a two-car garage.

98        Dr. Albert's house went through a similar experience. Initially, the plan was to add a large grand room on the back of the house with the study in a new upstairs area over the kitchen and dining room area. The decision was made to expand the master bedroom on the end of the house as well and termite damage meant that the living room would end up getting new sheet rock and remodeling. Small remodeling projects often grow into large remodeling projects and we were about to see this happen.

Finding a contractor

99        My cousin Timmy Williams was no longer available to help with the project. But his son, Josh, was available and knew of another carpenter who could work with him. Since my father was a carpenter and I had been a general contractor on the above two jobs it was only natural for me to serve as general contractor on this job. We would also end up hiring a young teenage to serve as a laborer.

100      The first job? Cleaning everything out of one room, which was no easy task. The question was where to put everything that was in the room. The now-formerly “pink bedroom” on the back side of the house was filled up to the gills. To get in the room, one had to open the door about a foot (30 cm) and take something out. Wardrobes filled the room with six closets worth of clothes as well as barely enough musical instruments and amplifiers to have a country western band. Seriously. Charles and Christine had had their own band when Charles was still alive. You could not just walk into the room as it was filled nearly to the ceiling. You had to remove something first. 

101      Furniture crowded the rest of the house but it was not stuffed like the 9 foot square small back bedroom. A few small dressers needed to be move out of the hallway to make room to empty the room where we would have Christine once we got her home from the nursing home. The only logical place to put everything was the living room and I began to pile things up on the couch, knowing this would have to change. Any available space soon became a pile of “stuff.” Yet, we got the front bedroom empty.

102      Next we pulled up the old carpet. The pad underneath had disintegrated and Sheila immediately felt pulling up the carpet was a good decision. Underneath hardwood floors looked surprising beautiful and we both knew they could easily be sanded and refinished. From there, the project expanded. “Maybe we should pull up all the carpet,” Sheila suggested. I readily agreed. But that would quickly expand the project beyond the bedroom and bath. Suddenly we were looking at replacing flooring in most of the house.

The project grows

103      Tomorrow’s blog.