my mom likes to tell this story. i don’t remember much about it, but i know the retelling pretty well, so here we go.
my mom got a new job in willmar in 1993; we moved from austin to spicer, then after a year of renting a home on green lake, we bought a house in new london.
to understand how ecstatic my mom was about this house, you have to understand how pretty awful our house in austin was. it was an old farm house, and it was past the point that it should have been remodeled. like three times. the carpet in the living room didn’t reach the edges of the walls and was so flat, it almost could have just been the floor. the tile in the kitchen was broken and tearing up so you could see the floorboards underneath it. and it wasn’t nice hardwood floors, either. we had no shower – just a tub. a few of our light fixtures were just bulbs in the ceiling.
NOT that this was bad; it was still HOME. it was just that, after buying the house in new london, it was like we finally had a grown-up house. my mom was very happy with it.
shortly after moving in, my mom had to go to a conference in washington dc (i think) for work and was out of town. i couldn’t tell you where my dad was, just that he wasn’t home. i was in charge (why am i always in charge when these things happen??), and charlie was just going nutso. i’m not sure if he finally realized three sisters were too much; maybe jane pushed him to the edge of reason; perhaps he wasn’t able to watch the tv show he wanted to watch. whatever it was, i was like, that’s enough of that – go upstairs until you calm down.
which he did not.
instead, he sat on the bottom stairs, threw a fit, and kicked a hole in the door that closed off the stairway from the kitchen. my mom’s house that had nothing falling apart in it suddenly fell victim to falling apart at the foot of a seven-year-old.
so i called mom up and apparently told her cha was out of control, and he kicked a hole in the door! that just about did her in. she yelled at him, telling him that for the first time in her life she had a nice house and here he was ruining it.* (apparently she did all this with her employee in the hotel room with her. she apologized profusely after this, and i think to this day my mom still considers that woman one of her good friends.)
but that still didn’t solve the door. my parents lived in that house up until 2013 – and the stinking hole NEVER got fixed.** they were there for almost 20 years, and somehow the hole was something that my dad never got around to fixing. i don’t even think they technically fixed it before they sold it; from what i hear, a piece of wood just went in the hole to make it look a little better. ***
* this was just the beginning. he also stood or sat on the dishwasher, and the thing never closed correctly again. my parents did eventually replace that, but it wasn’t until it completely died.
**to be fair, it wasn’t like they were staring at it every day. for the most part, the side with the hole in it was against the wall because that door was open a lot of the time. when it was closed, my mom was in the kitchen and didn’t have to look at the hole.
***the people that bought the house have pretty much flipped it! it was on the market last summer and the kitchen is completely renovated. i wonder if they fixed the holey door.