The story of a Real Man, a good man, a man I never got to personally meet, but knew in my heart.
Originally posted on Sweetnote's From the Midwest:
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The story of a Real Man, a good man, a man I never got to personally meet, but knew in my heart.
Originally posted on Sweetnote's From the Midwest:
View original 966 more words
Paying tribute to a man I adored. Jack Turnipseed. Love ya still Jack ;)
Originally posted on Sweetnote's From the Midwest:
The California trip was arduous at best. I became ill during the trip due to the massive amount of smoke from the LaCanada-Flintridge Fires that were only a few miles away from my two daughters digs in downtown Los Angeles. The week was spent with me on a couch, with a covering over my face and massive quantities of Inhalers being used. I loved seeing the daughters…
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Dear Twitter: I QUIT! Yeah, I’ve had it…fed up with it, want nothing more to do with it……uh….no….that isn’t what happened at all.
About 3 months ago I became ill. No it wasn’t H1N1, it was all bronchial, and sinus and misery. I began being ill before going to Los Angeles to visit my two daughters and had been on medications to combat it, however, when I went to LA I arrived the very day the fires at La Canada-Flintridge broke out. These amazing fires were across the hill from where I was safely tucked in the condo with my kids and hubby. However, the smoke from the fires seemed to say…hey, isn’t that Sweetnote over there in that Condo? Let’s go and say HELLO and then it stayed for the duration of our trip!
I have had bouts of asthma in my past and had not had any episodes for some time, but the smoke and ash sent my body into overdrive. I was on the couch, with blankets covering my head, washcloth over my face to breath through and generally suffocating. Misery, I now know you for what you are! NASTY and EVIL!
I hate to admit that I was ready to come home and leave LA, because everyone knows that I have claimed that territory as my own personal favorite place in the world. I absolutely adore the vibe LA has. It’s an electricity and feeling of life that is difficult to put into words.
ANYWAY…came home, and felt better in a couple of days because the smoke finally made it’s way OUT of my burning lungs and esophagus. Upon my return home, I began work in earnest on a garage sale. One I had promised my husband I would have to divest ourselves of much unneeded GUNK and JUNK. The weather while I was working on it was quite lovely for early September, and while it was work, it was fun. Then, the day of the sale came, and so did the COLD and the RAIN. Not just a little rain, a LOT of rain. Because of my weakness from the asthma, I immediately went back into a full blown bronchial attack that stayed with me throughout the 2 weeks of the garage sale…and then decided it would stay for over 2 months!
What does all this have to do with Twitter? Well, if you can’t tell from the above, I was too ill to get up and sit mindlessly tweeting to my friends. I went quiet on Twitter. I started to get lovely notes from people wondering if I was dead…what few tweets I was making were, hello I’m still sick and still alive. Not fun to read for anyone!
So About 2 weeks ago, after my lengthy drought from Tweeting, I said to myself. This is ridiculous. Why am I keeping a Twitter account if I’m not there, and with one fell click of the ENTER key, deleted my account. I was thinking, no one would even notice I wasn’t there!
Then, it began: My daughter Julie called me out of the clear blue sky and says, “Mom, you need to get on Twitter and let people know you are ok, I’m getting emails from people wondering where you are.” This was significant as my daughter Julie does NOT tweet, does not have an account and refuses to read anything I tweet because it just ticks her off. SO I say to Julie, well, I deleted my account. Her response? OK, good.
Then a few days later, my daughter, @teelajbrown on Twitter, calls me and says, “Mother (she calls me Mother when she’s upset with me), Why did you delete your account?” I explained what I just revealed to you but she was not nearly as forgiving as you who may be reading this, hopefully will be. “You know you didn’t need to delete your account, you could have just explained to people what was going on.” So my thought? “GOOD POINT” followed by DOH! What Have I Done? So I reinstated my account!
I’ve made quite a reputation for myself on Twitter, both good and bad. I’ve have so many acquaintances and a handful of people who are truly my friends. I’m looking back now at all this and thinking to myself, yeah, that was dumb. But there is a certain amount of depression that goes with extended illness and when you can’t have control over your body and make it get better, one feels the need for control over something! Good;bad;or indifferent, I had chosen to take control by deleting not only my Twitter account, but HIDING most of my songs on www.singsnap.com. I hadn’t been able to sing either due to the bad chest/throat thingy. (technical term)
So what is the point of this rambling? This is my formal apology to those Twit Fans and Friends for abandoning something I loved and (in fact) abandoning many of you at the same time. I am very sorry for worrying many of you and for not keeping in touch. It won’t happen again until I’m too old to Tweet! Seeing as how Liz Taylor still tweets, that may be a LONG TIME from now! I’m Jussayin!
And to you who do not know me as @Sweetnote on Twitter, it’s nice to meet you. Do stop in and say hello. Hopefully we’ll become good friends, Twitmates even!
And as Sweetnote always says:Smooches
Sweetnote has LEFT the Tweetbox!
I went to California a few weeks ago. Prior to my leaving I called my dear friend Jack Turnipseed and told him I would be going. Jack was upbeat and ornery as always and we traded a few giggles about his lack of sex and his wanton desire for it. I verbally hugged him over the phone and told him I would call when I got back from California. He responded that I had better call him when I got home. I laughed.
The California trip was arduous at best. I became ill during the trip due to the massive amount of smoke from the LaCanada-Flintridge Fires that were only a few miles away from my two daughters digs in downtown Los Angeles. The week was spent with me on a couch, with a covering over my face and massive quantities of Inhalers being used. I loved seeing the daughters and the bathroom renovation, which was the purpose for us being there, was beautifully completed.
I was ready to go home by the time came for the return trip. Worn out from the troubled breathing and the frustration of not being able to go out like I do ordinarily, a 6 hour plane ride seemed like paradise to me.
I got home and then a bronchial infection took over and I was down sick for the rest of the week again. On the Sunday after I returned home I received a note from someone named Sandi. The name didn’t ring a bell immediately for me and I almost tossed the email into the trash, but as I actually started to do it, something overcame me that I can’t explain and I knew I had to open it. Sure enough, it was a note telling me that my dear friend Jack Turnipseed had passed away. I sat back in my chair and I cried. I realized that in all the worrying about myself, I had forgotten my promise to my friend to call him immediately when I got home. I felt I had let him down.
If you haven’t read my other article, “On Behalf Of The Dying” it’s the story of how Jack I became friends and how, after he’d told me that he was to select which day to die (by the removal of a pacemaker) that I had continuously told him, don’t pick today Jack, I want to talk to you tomorrow.
My tomorrows ran out. I’d never met Jack. I had only spoken to him via the internet and phone calls. In fact, he was the only person my husband allowed outside the family on my Friends & Family plan for my phone. I can’t begin to tell you the depth of my sorrow…and truly I don’t even fully yet understand my link to this man I hardly knew.
I sent a note to Sandi telling her I would Love to come to the Funeral, to which she wrote back and said, it was taking place that very day in Missouri. Again, I felt my betrayal of my friend. The next day, however, Sandi wrote to tell me that it had been decided that a memorial for Jack would take place near St. Louis and I was definitely invited to come. I had promised Jack I would come to his funeral, I had let him down. I was determined to make the Visitation for him.
Begrudgingly my husband agreed to let me drive down to St. Louis alone for the visitation. I had been sick for two solid weeks with the upper respiratory thing that had gripped me in LA, but I was determined to go to see my Jack for the first time, and the last time.
It rained that day as I drove down, off and on, matching my own tears. I talked to Jack in the car all the way down. The town I was headed for was new to me, Trenton, Illinois. I’d never been there, didn’t have a clue how to get there, so I had printed off a map from the internet. It was a two and half almost 3 hour trip to Trenton from my home. Jack and I laughed together in my mind. We talked about the ornery things we’d talked about on the phone and I reminded him of the night that he called, high on pain medication and swearing that women were raping him. I laughed and told him I hoped it had been true for his sake.
I got near Trenton and actually became lost. I stopped the car and said, look Jack, if you want me to be there on time you better start telling me how to get to you. I swear, suddenly, it was as if I’d traveled the road before. I drove to the town, turned on the right streets and drove to the Funeral home and arrived just as people were arriving for the memorial. I laughed and said, it was a good thing he had a good sense of direction in the afterlife.
I went inside the quaint funeral home and drifted toward the direction of the murmur of voices and a few sounds of laughter. Entering the room I saw the chairs to the right of me, and three boards full of photographs at the front of the room. No Jack, however, he’d been cremated in Missouri, but his ashes were going to be interred with his son’s body at the local cemetery.
I stepped up to the photos of a man whom I had known through videos on http://www.singsnap.com. When we first met Jack was a VIBRANT handsome bald man who adored singing and flirting and performing. The photos of his life showed that as well, and there were photos of him with a head full of hair and a wife and children. Not the man I knew at all. But a man who I wished I’d known. Suddenly someone said, “Sweetnote?” and I drew around suddenly to see the face of a woman I’d never met. “Yes, I am,” I replied. “Oh I KNEW it was you from watching your videos on Singsnap! I was so hoping you’d be able to come. Singing was SO important to Jack.”
“I am so very sorry for your loss,” the words we utter. The hollow, hollow words from the well meaning people. I am determined to come up with a better thing to say at the next funeral of a friend.
I was taken from person to person and introduced as though I was the dearest friend Jack had. I grew more embarrassed as I realized that I should know some of the people from Jack’s descriptions, but my sorrow had caught up with me in the reality of the moment, and faces floated by, and handshakes were made. I took a seat and a minister got up to give a prayer. After the prayer he announced how he and Jack were and had been the dearest of friends for many year and what a religious man Jack was. I giggled to myself, because in all the talks I’d had with Jack he’d never once mentioned he was religious. On the contrary, he was quite the rogue and we joked to each other that if either of us went first, we should try to get a place in hell near the water cooler and make sure the apartment had air conditioning. That was the Jack Turnipseed I knew.
Then the minister went on to tell about how Jack had been a School Teacher, A Printer, ran a Karaoke business, was a wonderful Father, a kind husband, and what a positive influence he had been on so many lives. I smiled again, THIS WAS the Jack I knew. He’d been a positive influence on my life and he will continue to be until the day I die. Singlehandedly Jack had given me back a piece of me that I had lost for awhile. True love and compassion for a stranger. It may have been his greatest gift in his lifetime.
The day before Jack died, he sang a song on Singsnap…when I saw it I cried to see how he had deteriorated, but then I laughed with joy listening to the song. The song? “Going Up To The Spirit In The Sky.” I never did find out if Jack picked his day to die or if God did. I like to think it was the both of them. I’m going to miss you Jack Turnipseed, aka Oil_Can_Harry. My Friend
My Youngest daughter, Julie, has had a thing for Katharine Hepburn since she was about 8yrs old. Julie even had a “Shrine” of photos of Katharine in her room. (Other kids had New Kids On the Block!) She had Kate’s lines from many movies memorized and had her laugh down to a science! She emulated Katharine and still does to this day! When she was about 10 I was cleaning her room and came across a paper in her trash.A letter to Kate. “Hi, I’m Julie how are you” sort of thing.I asked her why she didn’t send it to her & she said She wouldn’t answer me anyway. So I smoothed out the LONG letter,got some pics of Julie and wrote a note to Ms.Hepburn telling her about Julies love for her&what Julie had said.Sent it to her at home on the E.Coast. 6weeks later got back an envelope that said it was from Kate:I was SO excited! I ran to Julie. Julie was Furious I’d sent her letter on but excited that she’d gotten the letter. Julie opened it and saw it was on Kate’s personal stationary. Julie read it, cast it aside. I asked why she had done it and she replied, “She couldn’t even write me herself, had to have someone else write it for her.” Thought it was SO funny that she was so naive as to have thought that Kate would actually write her. I took pen in hand again and wrote a quick note to the secretary telling her Julie’s reaction. Just about a WEEK later we received another envelope. This one contained Kate’s Letterhead and a brief typed note:”Dear Julie, I have truly enjoyed your sweet letters, however, I am not in need of a penpal at this time.” Hand signed by Kate herself! Julie has gone on to be in the movie industry herself. This letter is her pride and joy…and Mine!
My friend is dying. A friend I’ve never met in life except through phone calls and a few videos we send back and forth. Oil_Can_Harry is his name on SingSnap…a site devoted to people who love to sing…but his real name is Jack. I just realized I don’t even know his last name. Sad really. But my dear friend called me yesterday when I was away. The message on the answering machine was, “Well Hon, I got some bad news from the Dr. today, I wanted to talk to you about it.” I called him back immediately. A few weeks ago I had called him and we had discussed his serious heart problem. So serious, in fact, that his Dr. began providing Hospice services for him. Jack has one daughter who lives several hundred miles north of him. There is no wife, no close friends that he’s ever told me about, just the friends that he’s made at http://www.singsnap.com.
Jack is the only guy I’ve ever allowed to be a bit ornery when talking to me. His old piss and vinegar attitude and gravely voice are all I knew about him. You can immediately tell the heart of gold this guy has, so when I called him back, I was irreverent, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Hey darlin, what in the hell are you doing?” (we call each other darlin alot) Jack:Well, I was just about to lie down.. “So what’s going on, you sounded pretty serious on the message?” Jack:”Well darlin, I’m trying to decide which day I die.”
I sat back in the chair not really fully understanding what he meant at that time, thinking he was being maudlin and just poking a bit at me to get a reaction. “Why’s that Jack? What’d the Dr. say that makes you say that.” Jack:”Well, they’re gonna pull the plug on me and I have to decide which day I wanna do it.”
Suddenly I was thrust in my mind to a scene at a hospital with my father-in-law who was on the verge of death. My husband and his brother had to make a decision on when to pull the plug to allow their father to die. Then I was immediately pulled forward to two years ago when, by a decision of my side of the family, we allowed my father to die. My father’s death haunts me to this day. It wasn’t the quiet peaceful death I’d seen on television:I was expecting that, instead I saw a man reduced to a gray pulp, mouth gaping, struggling for his last breaths of air. A scene I relive over and over again in my mind to this day.
My thoughts came back immediately to Jack. “Jack, has something changed, are you worse? Why are you even contemplating this?” Jack:”Well, I’m tired darlin, my hearts completely give out, my kidneys are shutting down, and I don’t want to go through dialysis. I’ve decided to let them pull the plug. It’s not like it’s going to be today and probably not even tomorrow. The doctor says I should just pick a day and he’ll make all the arrangements and come on over to the house and we’ll do it.”
There was sadness in his voice, God why wouldn’t there be, but there was something else. A quiet peace. It was as if he had really thought about the decision, found an answer that he could comply with and was ready to carry on.
There’s more to the story, but it consists mostly of me crying, him saying one of his favorite days was meeting me, but that’s the personal stuff.
My husband called on another line while I was speaking to Jack, so I let him go with a promise to call him again. My husband ascertained quickly that I was upset and asked what was wrong, so I told him. Hubster:”Haven’t I told you not to get too close to people. You just get too upset. You don’t even really know him.”
I’ve always been blessed with making friends. I think perhaps I may use the word “FRIEND”
too easily sometimes. I hold people in my heart over the smallest of things. People have been my greatest joy and sometimes my greatest sorrow. I would rather have a very good friend for one day than never have had the encounter with them at all.
I thought many hours about how someone, when given the news that their life is truly nearing an end, internalizes that information. I know there are several processes in grieving. Are these the same emotions one would go through if given the time-line of their own demise? First there would be the shock of the news, then the fear, the anger, the bargaining for more life, the resolution of the truth and finally the death itself. The reflection goes on from day one of the process. Have I lived my life in a manner that I wanted? Why didn’t I go after that opportunity?
Then I came to a realization, one I’ve known all along really. We are all finite, we do not know our last hour in most cases, however we all live with the knowledge that we are going to die. I’m sitting at a kitchen table writing this, but anything could happen. It could be an embolism, a freak accident, who knows? The point is while sitting here, I realize that this moment could be my last, and if it is have I lived the last few hours in a way that people will say, “That Londie, she was Fun, she was imaginative, she was a go getter, she always encouraged others, and she had a good heart.”
About Jack…when I started this article back in February, I thought Jack wouldn’t be here much longer. I made it a point to call him weekly and say, “Hey Jack, not today. Don’t choose to go today please. I want to talk to you one more time.” I’m very proud and happy to say Jack is still here. He’s no worse, and he’s much happier, but in our last conversation the other day he said this to me. “Londie, I know you want me to keep going, but darlin, one of these days it’ll happen and I want you to be prepared for it.” I couldn’t believe what he said…he wanted ME to be prepared for it. What an honor to be thought of so highly by someone I don’t really even know well. Thanks for the Life Lesson, you’ve made me such a better person because of knowing you…Oh and Jack…Not today…I wanna talk to you One More Time!
No pressure here…but I have had NUMEROUS lovely messages from People on Twitter and actually across the Internet saying…Hi Londie…I read your blog! I was like, Are You KIDDING? Wow…people actually care what I might have to say…to Paraphrase from one of my favorite all time movies “The Princess Bride”….INCONCEIVABLE…and yes I know what that means!
When I started this blog I had such LOFTY plans for it. But got caught up in Twitter…yes…I’m Sweetnote there…and so my days have been filled with Tweeting my lil fingers off. I am embarrassed to say that I am a prolific tweeter:I never got into Chat Room stuff…but find the 140 character thingy SO intriguing that I feel compelled to go there daily, read info, share info, make up info and generally have a great time! Do I ever Love Twitter!
I’ve had the distinct honor to meet people I would never have ordinarily been able to interact with. Many of these are people of whom I’ve read about. I’m not talking about the @ShaquilleONeal or THE @StephenFry (whom I adore by the way), I’m talking about @ChrisBrogan, Stranahan (of Huffington Post Infamy), @TheDailyBlonde..who’s blog is inspiring and funny…to name a few off the top of my head. I’m talking internationally to people that I would never have had the opportunity in “Real Life” to associate with. People like the incredibly talented Robert Llewellyn, @bobbyllew of LlewTube but better known as Kryten from Red Dwarf. I’d actually met Mr. Llewellyn several years ago at a Dr.Who, Red Dwarf, Blakes 7 convention. Or was it the Dr.Who, Robin Hood, Red Dwarf…etc…convention? Who knows. GEEK? Oh yeah…look it up…my photo with my tongue hanging out and salivating is used to define it!
And then the AMAZING happens and I have been approached for everything from Sex to Co-Authoring Books, working on Blogs, starting a Podcast, Vidcast and so many other amazing opportunities that only a couple of years ago, did not realize existed! I am ghostwriting-co authoring two separate projects right now. Life is good.
Am I making money doing it? Nah…but I have promises in writing for some. God forgive me for being me, but he knows I solely involved in everything I do for the fun of doing it! I like money like everyone else, but do I make decisions for myself based solely on the $$…Heck No! I’m in it for the experience, the opportunity to do things I’d never pushed myself to do or become. Isn’t that what we are truly made for?
Advice? Yeah I give it freely…and for free…everything from how to get along with husbands, what gifts to buy for special occasions and what route to take to get from here to there. My life is a true blessing. Updating is now a necessity. People actually READ what I write…I shall become more vigilant to update more frequently. I promise! Besides, it’s so refreshing to have more than 140 characters to say what I want! Look for me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Sweetnote…I’m usually wearing a Cowgirl hat! HUGS and SMOOCHES….I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I walked through tall amber and green grasses to find you
You lying peacefully beneath the brown earth and blue sky
Awaiting someone who has not come for so long
Because the pain of being without you was too much to bear
Pausing to remove a weed or two from where your feet lie
Rearranging the faded blooms of silk left by another
Patting the marble as though it was your hand
I stand transfixed in memory, savoring the moment
Knowing full well I may not venture here again
I turn to go but feel the pull of your no longer beating heart
Telling me that it’s ok to live my life without you
Assuring me that life for me will return to what it was
But the memory of that moment of your passing haunts me
And I can’t let go that memory even though I try
Forgive me for not visiting more but I don’t think of you here
I think of us alongside a riverbank, basking in the moment
Enjoying the sun, smelling the water and the grass
As we sit together awaiting nothing but having everything
I’m leaving you now
But I’m taking you with me everywhere I go
Our journeys will take us to many places but none so sweet
As when I sit alone on the riverbank knowing you are there
Watching and providing the warmth that I feel
Sometimes things happen in your life for a reason. You may not know just what the reason is, however, there’s always this small voice that tries to reassure you that everything will be alright. Some may call it wishful thinking; I chose to call it a voice from God.
There are some major happenings at our place right now. I had to have a surgery about four weeks ago, but the story actually takes place the day before. My husband and I awoke around 7:30AM to a rainstorm. I rolled over casually thinking how nice the sound of the rain was and rolled over to see my husband awake, eyes wide, and with a distinct look of worry.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, suddenly panicking because the look was so intense. “The Sludge pump in the basement,” he said. And I was like “yeah, so?” and he answered quickly. “It’s starting up every four minutes; I’ve been timing it for awhile.” Me, being blond and somewhat oblivious to the meaning of what that meant asked, “So, is that bad?” “Yes,” he said, “I’m pretty sure it is.” He rolled suddenly and stood up. “I think I’d better check the basement.”
That sentiment sent a panic in me that is difficult to describe. I have to explain, I am an artist. My art workroom is in my basement. I work mostly on paper, and I have several hundred mats, papers, original works, wood frames all in my basement in several different drawers, cartons, containers, etc. Some are sitting on the floor.
The panic came from an experience in year two after the home we built had a sludge pump failure and we experienced water in our basement. There was approximately 4-6 inches of water in our basement. My new carpet, my cabinets, our paneling, my work, several boxes that we still had unopened, and assorted magazines, papers, etc. all became victims of the flood. The thought of another flood of that proportion panicked me as well.
This was the day before my scheduled surgery to correct a hernia in my lower left groin area. I rolled gingerly out of bed, wincing as I got up and slipped on some shoes to make the trek to the basement. I threw on a light sweater to shield the chill of the cool basement.
As my feet hit the floor of the basement I went immediately into my art room and breathed a sigh of relief…no water. I went into the large main area of our unfinished basement to see my husband walking the perimeter and sizing up the situation. “Looks like everything’s ok…there’s a little bit of water over here coming up through a crack, but that’s all. I’m going to keep an eye on it for awhile.” The sound of the sludge pump again starting up seemed loud and ominous to me.
I breathed a sigh of relief though. Once it gets the OK from the hubster, we’re as good as gold. Then hubster (my nickname for my husband Larry) uttered menacingly, “That was less than three minutes.” I could tell from his expression that it was like he was experiencing birth contractions! I went back upstairs to put on some clothes, knowing the skimpy pajama material was no match for the coolness of the basement.
I returned downstairs about fifteen minutes later to find my husband with a large squeegee mop pushing water to the drain area in our basement. “Yeah, it’s coming in fast now,” he said and I stood amazed to see that from the time I had gone upstairs and had come back downstairs I could see water literally pouring through an area close to our basement door that led to the backyard. I looked around to see that along the walls towards the north wall of our house water was coming in rapidly and covering the floor.
I asked what I could do and Larry said to move the water toward the drain that the gravity would move the water towards the drain. I stood with squeegee in hand pushing water as quickly as I could toward the drainage area approximately 15 to 20 feet from where I was standing and on the opposite side of the floor. Water was coming up over the tops of my shoes. It had been only 25 minutes since we first checked to see a dry basement with one little area that oozed water through a small crack.
“How can this be happening again?” I asked and my perplexed hubster looked at me as if to say, “Don’t ask stupid questions woman because I don’t know!” I asked where our shop vac was because I was certain it would be of some use. My husband’s face registered a “DOH!” which of course I loved because it was obvious it never even crossed his mind. But there truly was a reason. We had had a garage sale and had put the shop vac in the sale. We hadn’t needed it in a long time, and we had put it into the sale. We had it for about $10 dollars. A couple of people looked at it but passed it by. Now I know God was sitting up there doing an Obiwan Kenobi, “You don’t need a shop vac. You can go to buy a new one for just a little more.” And of course the person in reply, “I don’t need a shop vac, I can go to buy a new one for just a little more.”
I actually thought about that as the hubster bounded up the steps thanking me and telling me how smart I was and how I do come in handy from time to time. I am documenting his comments here so I can once again revel in them for awhile at a later time. Those moments happen so infrequently!
After four hours we finally got the situation under control. In that four hours there was much cursing…him and me, much crying…only me that I know of…and a lot of pain, by both of us for having to move so quickly and me due to the pain I already had been experiencing due to the hernia. “I think we’re finally ahead of it, and I think the rain is slowing down.”
Let me say at this point, yes it was a heavy rain, but not one that was like a hurricane force type at all. It was just steady, and solid, and very wet.
“I’m going to find someone online to come and look at it and give us an estimate on maybe digging up around the house and seeing what’s going on. This should NOT have happened,” the hubster was serenely angry, not at me, thank goodness but at the absurdity and hopelessness that we had felt such a short time before.
He sent an email to company about an hour away and within fifteen minutes we got a callback. Cuomo and Sons out of El Paso, IL (about an hour and fifteen minute drive from here) was going to come and give us an estimate within two to three days.
Vic (the owner) came out and did a walk around with my husband; they talked awhile, discussed the manly art of perimeter tile and what the possible problems might have been. Discussion of clogged drainage and possible perimeter tile failure was in the forefront of the conversation.
A deal was reached and plans made that included taking out my landscaping in the front yard, a sidewalk on the north side of the house and digging up to expose the entire perimeter tile around the house. I was thrilled…Ok…imagine a very sarcastic face when I typed that!
So large equipment and a team of young men converged upon my house one beautiful early fall day. The first piece of business…let’s take out the trees in the landscaping in the front. My beautiful Chinese Maple that I had adored and cared for since we moved into our home 101/2 years ago was unceremoniously taken down along with a large poodle tree (so named because of the round poodle like extensions like those found on a poodle). And a small tree that had tried to die several times and I nursed back to health through pruning and caring for…all decimated within moments. I was saddened to tears, again.
Digging commenced in the back and the search was on for a round pvc pipe that supposedly ran diagonally from where an alcove (that had filled to a height of approximately five to six inches of water) that we have on the back of the house and which was to have run at a forty-five degree angle to join up with a long green five inch pvc pipe that went from the back south corner of our home and ran approximately seventy five to one hundred feet down an incline into a gully behind our home.
My husband, while at work, was calling every hour or so for updates on whether the elusive green pipe was found. It was central to carrying water away from our home. I was in the kitchen fixing myself a glass of juice when one of the workmen (Adam) came up the steps from the basement and said, “Mrs. Benson, do you have a camera? I think you need to grab it and come and take some pictures.” I stood dumbfounded for a moment trying to, number one grasp that he’d come into my house and I hadn’t even heard him, but then realizing what he had said I replied, “Did you find something?”
His face was full of an excitement and alarm. “You’re not going to believe what we found.” I grabbed the camera and headed down the stairs behind him. “We’ve been digging back here by the Southwest corner (My art room) and there’s no footing under the back corner, and the perimeter tile actually ends four foot before the end of the house and it’s been cut off and just ends without being capped or without being connected to anything to drain the water away from the house. There’s also a huge hole under the back corner, big enough for me to get my body into it. It has no footing at all under the back corner.” I stood there and tried to grasp what he was saying.
He jumped down into the hole that they had dug and started pointing and talking and I was absolutely in a daze. I was looking at a long rectangular piece of plastic with holes in the side, and it just abruptly ended. He got down on his back and said, “Look at this!” Adam put his arm into a huge open gaping hole under my house and then moved his body under the edge of the concrete wall and just laid there. “I’ve NEVER seen anything like this in all the houses I’ve ever worked on.” He said.
I was snapping photos on my digital camera as quickly as I could. At this point I should remind you that I was one week out from having had my surgery. My daughter, Shawna, had flown home from Los Angeles to help me out for a few days. I went back into the house and grabbed a video camera and asked her to help videotape while Adam explained what they had found. Adam was very obliging and volunteered to go through the whole explanation again for the video.
Work continued on the perimeter. Not only had the subcontractor failed to finish off that corner, it was found that there was not even ONE connection going away from the perimeter tile and going away from the house. They also discovered that the tile had collapsed on itself from the weight of the clay. There had not been enough pea gravel and sand used so all the slits in the perimeter tile were encased in the clay that surround my home.
A week went by and still no diagonal pipe was found going away from the alcove area, but the long green pipe that went down my hillside was totally uncovered. And then we found another wonderfully disturbing problem. The green pipe stopped almost two feet from my house. In other words, it went nowhere. It was not connected to anything; it just lay under clay and was not draining anything anywhere. The end closest to my home was caked with the clay, again, two feet from where the perimeter tile that it was to connect to way laying. Four inch holes were found in a couple of places. These holes were evidently supposed to be either capped or were supposed to have pipes connected to them that would then lead the water from the perimeter tile out away from my home. Ultimately now that everything has been unearthed we have discovered that there is not even ONE connection going away from my home from the perimeter tile. All we have is a large amount of collapsed perimeter tile that obviously has never done the job it was intended to do.
The first weekend after the discovery of the four foot discrepancy in the perimeter tile and the lack of concrete footing on the corner of my art room, my husband decided to call the builder and ask him to come out and take a look at the situation. He obliged and even brought his brother. They walked the exterior of our home with my husband and after surveying the findings announced it was no big deal, they did that kind of thing all the time and never had a complaint before. Seemed to work well everywhere else, and they couldn’t figure why we would have such a problem. Of course this was also before we discovered that there were no connections in any of the places where they were supposed to be. They basically washed their hands of it and left.
We stood in the yard and just looked at each other. “I spoke with one of my people at work. It turns out her husband is an attorney and he knows a real estate attorney. They asked how long we have lived here. I told them that we were going on eleven years in a couple of months. The statute of limitations is ten years. We can’t do anything about it in court. We’re going to have to pay for all of this ourselves.”
I was dumfounded. I couldn’t believe that with the negligence we’d discovered that this could possibly be true. Of course, as I said, this was before we discovered the total extent of the negligence.
The gentleman that is working on correcting the problem just keeps telling us that in all his years of working on homes, and he says it’s over thirty years, he has NEVER seen such shoddy work done so blatantly. He feels that one thing that may have happened is that they may have been prepared to make the connections, but the guy who came to do the backfill may have beat them to it and then decided it would be too much trouble to dig it back up and after all, who cares.
We have had another severe problem since we moved into our home. Insects! Hundreds of them were somehow getting into our basement. The situation was SO bad, in fact, that we decided against finishing off the basement because we couldn’t get rid of them. We bug bombed, we caulked, we plugged holes and still somehow they would infest our basement. Fortunately the majority stayed there although spiders seem to run rampant throughout the house. Now we understand why we are having so many problems.
We are still at least two to three weeks from the work being finished. The more they work, the more they find. We are past being surprised by anything they find.
SO as I said originally, everything must happen for a reason. I’m trying to be positive about this, however it’s extremely difficult. In our case, the rain happened so we could find the problem, the Cuomo Company needed to keep their men working, and we needed to find out just who we can or cannot trust. Ok, that’s a pretty simplistic way of looking at it, but we have no answers to why this would happen. Although we DO have a theory as to why this happened to us at this time. We have a vacation coming up at the end of the month. Everyone knows the worst problems you’re going to have always come when you’re planning something good. I’m reminding myself that the vacation will be even sweeter than we had ever hoped!
I don’t think we’ll be building again!
I asked Jennie what had happened to her. Why had she decided to stop singing. She looked at me with a little far off expression and said, “I don’t remember.” I thought to myself, how cute that was and I must have smiled because Jennie suddenly sat a little forward and with a face that had gone from pleasant to concerned confusion she said, “No, I mean I really don’t remember. I had a serious car accident and was in a coma for awhile. When I awoke from it I had lost a lot of my memory. I have a lot of holes in it to this day. And the one thing I don’t remember is why I stopped singing.”
I sat back suddenly. I too had been the victim of a severe accident, mine was in 1986. Part of my memory was also gone, but mine was from the massive quantities of pain medications that I had been living on. I knew at once what she was referring to. It wasn’t just the injury from the accident, but the onslaught of what happened afterward that made her forget.
“Do you WANT to sing again,” I asked her in deadly earnest. “If you had the opportunity, would you sing for people again?” She looked at me for a moment and I saw her eyes start to glisten. “Yes, I’ve wanted to very much. I just don’t know if I can any more, it’s been so long.”
It was the answer I had been praying for. Jennie Pearl was ready to meet her public again. Jennie wanted to sing, and she wanted to once again play an instrument. She told me she plays piano to this day and sings to herself sometimes.
Suddenly I was euphoric again! I told her that I sing almost everyday. She looked at me and said how and where. I told her about a website that I frequent where you can sing and record with tracks very similar to the original recordings. The site is called SingSnap. www.singsnap.com. I told her we could set her up a free account where she could record and even keep her songs private until she got enough confidence to post them publicly. She could practice to her hearts content. I offered to her that she come over to my house and I’d show her the site and let her see what I was talking about.
Jennie was glowing at the prospect of singing again. I think it was like I had given her permission to be herself again. She said she’d love to sing with me sometime. I was thrilled and still am thrilled by that prospect. I can’t wait to hear her sing her own little song again and open her heart to the world again.
We drove home and I sat in the backseat next to her and told her how much this evening had meant to me. She put her hand on mine and said it meant a great deal to her too. I asked her if it was ok for me to contact Chuck and let him know that we had spoken and she was thrilled that I reminded her of that again. “I used to have such a crush on him back then. I was going with Dan Young at the time, but I always thought Chuck was so cute and talented.” Jennie’s husband Alan had perked his ears up over that part of the conversation but smiled knowing he had no ghosts to fight! Jennie offered to bring me the album to listen to of the Peoria Anthology Folk Group. I was so excited at the prospect. After we arrived home Jennie showed up at my front door about thirty minutes later with the album.
I brought Jennie into my computer room to take her online and show her the website for Singsnap. I told her that she could find my songs under my user name Sweetnote. I pulled up one of my songs hoping it would please her. She was very complimentary about my singing and said she was even more excited now to begin recording. I showed her how to use the webcam, how to record and save her songs and how to access them. She got up to go home but before she left she turned to me and said, “I really need to do this don’t I?” I wasn’t sure if she was really asking me or not. I told her that yes, she did need to do it for herself. She asked if I really sang every day and I replied that I had to. It was my own addiction of sorts. I have to sing. “I know how that must feel.” I think she truly does. As I sit and listen to the album of folk tunes I think about the fifteen year old Jennie Pearl, who had no idea her life would lead her away from the thing she loved most at that time. I thought about the adult Jennie Pearl Hayes and how I had actually seen her revert ever briefly into that fifteen year old for a second when I showed her how to record on SingSnap. I know the story of Jennie Pearl is nowhere near over. In fact it’s just beginning.
We had a neighborhood barbecue the other evening. Jennie and I sat at different tables, but I overheard her talking to one of our other neighbors. A couple of women were there with an autoharp and a guitar playing background music for our cookout. Jennie was smiling and laughing and I heard her say, “Yes, I used to sing and I intend to get back into it again. Londie and I are going to sing together sometime.” I was thrilled! She wasn’t just reaffirming her interest to me, she was now wearing it like a badge of courage. The Jennie Pearl that so many people around the world had come to know and love through a simple little song is once again going to return to the public that loves her. I take great pride in being a part of that return. I’ll keep you posted as she moves along. Hopefully we’ll find Dan and the reunion concert will be a tangible future venue for her. Jennie Pearl? Yes, I know her, she’s my neighbor, and I’m proud to say, my friend.