Twin Beeches -- an Illinois Love Story
Author: paul schoaff

Chapter 39
Life is More and More Complicated

(MJ)

Life is More and More Complicated

How can I get Out of this Mess?

 

Mama and I had a big fight.  I don't remember ever having a fight like this with her but this one made up for all the ones we didn't have before.

 

I bet you saw it coming.   I was obliged to go back to school no matter what.  I could not take Buggy with me, therefore Mama would raise my child more than I did.  I told her she didn't have time to run a business and raise a child.  She pointed out she did just fine with me.  I pointed out Mr. Bader helped a lot and I didn't intend to be away from my baby for weeks at a time.  She said she would move to Galesburg if that was what it took and I told her she was being stupid and she told me 'who's being stupid?'  And I said I would just take another year off.

 

She said "how will things be different in a year?  Just more of the same."

 

And I told her I hated not being able to figure out how to do everything I had to do and she wasn't being helpful.  I was going to have to find a place to go to school where I could have Buggs beside me. 

 

She said why didn't I just accept her offer to take care of Bugsy and I could be there every weekend and she would drive up to Galesburg, it's only an hour for Pity's sakes, if I got too homesick during the week.

 

And I said that was too much, she had a business to run.  She said she would sell the business and I shut up and we both cried and agreed to go out and work on the house. 

 

When we got there we started up again – one house or two?  She said she wanted to fix up both houses and I could live in one with my family, eventually, and she could live in the other.

 

'With your family?' I said, and she gave me a not nice look so I said she should have boyfriends and she said,

 

"How can I have a man friend when I'm busy still taking care of two children!" And then, “NO, I didn't mean that, MJ, I didn't mean that”,  as I ran out the door and then back again to pick up Buggs to take her along, and she said “I was wrong, there are three children here.....” 

 

And we hugged and cried and decided to fix both houses and that I would go back to school in the Fall and we would hire a nanny if we had to, but we would always be with Buggs every minute we could.  I told her about Prof. Whitley-whatever and her daughter in the playpen.  I told her she was young enough to have more babies herself but I was trying very hard to be a responsible adult and it just seemed like a responsible adult should take care of her own baby, not someone else's.

 

In other words, we fought and fought and only settled we would be selfish and each of us would have a house, at least for now.  And she would keep paying for everything for now, and I would keep letting her love me no matter what even when there aren't any right answers and especially when I didn't deserve it.  Someday, somehow, it would all be worth it.  Somehow, someday, I would find a way to pay her back.

 

Mom hired a man to work on her house who said he would work there until he finished.  I volunteered to began to work on the other one by stripping paint from wood trim and taking old wallpaper down with sponges and scrapers.  I removed every piece of hardware from cabinets and cabinet doors and put them in paint remover.  After they had the paint soaked off, I lay them out on the counter.  I washed windows.  I looked around and saw I hadn't even made a small impression in what all the entire house needed.

 

David Baumgartner, a Jack of all trades, Mama hired for her side.  He had a struggling cabinetry in town and a degree in fine arts from Carthage College.  He came with a beard and long hair tied in a bow behind his neck.  He looked hungry every time he saw me, I mean every time I saw him.  Too many complications right now, I said to myself, and made sure not to offer to share my lunch with him or share a ride out from town or to be overly friendly.  Tempting, but, for now, I remained otherwise occupied.  I learned that, at least, from Mama’s example.

 

I had a little electricity, a refrigerator, a working toilet that drained I know not where but worked. I learned later about septic systems and drain fields.  Enough running water to manage, even though the hot water heater was on the “to be replaced soon” list.  We had a propane tank installed at each house on the same day and lit the pilots on the cooking stoves.   Turned out that was all it took to get the water heater going again, too --I never said I was practical around the house.   So, in a few weeks, I was almost comfortable enough to stay overnight at the house. 

 

Mama, I proudly thought, will barely see us.  But I certainly felt humble, again, when I realized I’d still have to stop by her office and meekly ask for money from time to time.

 

 

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