My mom and step-dad host a Christmas Eve morning get-together every year for our family. We all pile into a few cars at about 8am, stop at Dunkin’ to pick up coffee and donuts and head down the road to their house. Mom has carols playing, the holiday lights are all on and we gather in their rarely used living room to open up our gifts. It’s a fun time for all and an easy way for my 86 year old mom and dad to have a “party.”
“Mom,” my daughter announced after the festivities were over and we drove away, “Meemom has mold all over her white couch!”
As I have mentioned before, my mom suffers from macular degeneration. She’s not totally blind, but she certainly cannot see very well at all. Not unlike many seniors, she and her husband are also always cold, so over the past few years their home has gone from cool and comfortable to pretty stinking hot and humid. Now and then, I’d mention to my mom that their house was warm and smelled kind of musty, but she’d brush me off and say it was just me and my menopause.
While the guys were watching football after Christmas dinner at our house the next day, I gingerly approached my mother to tell her about the mold. Her reactions were not unexpected:
DENIAL- “Whaaat? I’m sure it’s just dirt.”
ANGER- “Why didn’t the girls say anything?”…. “Mom, they told me right away.”
BLAME-“Well someone must be messing with our air conditioner, I bet it’s the cleaning lady!”
DEFEAT-“You know what, we don’t have that many years left to live anyway..I just can’t handle this anymore.”
Fast forward to yesterday and me and the girls are over at my mother’s place setting up the new dehumidifier from Home Depot. I was totally shocked when I closely examined the mildew that was COVERING.. (COVERING!!) that expensive white couch. I’ll be amazed if even the professionals can get all that mold off..it’s awful, awful, awful… spooky awful.
And to think they’ve been living in a house with all of this disgusting, unhealthy mold quietly, persistently, spreading all over the place. I hate to think where else it’s hiding.
Which brings me to the life lessons I’m taking away from this experience:
It was the week after Christmas last year when I decided it was time to organize our own Florida home. I took a systematic approach to the project and here we are a year later with almost every room repainted, bags and bags and bags of useless stuff given away, landscaping simplified and over-all just a much more streamlined and manageable home. It was a very big project, but it was successfully tackled over time. It’s such a big and welcome improvement.
But there’s more to do- so much more.. and this next step will be even harder.
The house looks great, but it’s time to check this homeowner for physical, spiritual and mental mildew.
The symptoms are subtle but obvious..as subtle and obvious as the dank smell in my parents’ home. My bones are achy, I don’t sleep well, I don’t eat well, my priorities are messed up, I keep putting off goals, I’m lazy and basically unmotivated in some important areas in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, the sky’s not falling, but there are things I do- and don’t do- that are detrimental to my overall well-being and I have let them continue- ignoring the consequences because they just really aren’t that bad… at least not yet.
But I know that don’t want to wake up one day with a dysfunctional life, suddenly realizing I’m covered in irreversible damage created by unhealthy, moldy and invasive habits. I don’t want to stand there in front of my friends and family completely embarrassed, looking at an urgent situation knowing full well there were warning signs I chose to ignore.
As I told my mother, “this doesn’t get this bad overnight.”
Try as I might, I simply cannot “unsee” my mom’s gorgeous couch covered in that nasty, freaky, furry, horrible mold…
So I’m going to use that disturbing visual as a warning and as motivation because guess what— my life smells musty… and that’s a fact I can no longer afford to ignore.