Once we finally got back to the island we hardly knew where to begin.
Although Jane’s helpers had already moved our belongings from her garage into the downstairs space (along with several pieces we’d decided to relocate from upstairs), the men had done little more than pile the furniture into the newly refurbished space.
It was a daunting prospect. Plastic-shrouded mattresses lay like beached whales across dusty consoles and rattan chairs…
In short, it was a near-solid wall of chaos.
We began by moving all the boxes out onto the breezeway. There Michael opened each one in no particular order, sorted its contents, and bagged the guts (usually environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam peanuts).
Then he broke down the boxes themselves.
In the ninety plus degree heat, I began inside by creating a provisional passageway from the main door straight through to the garden door on the opposite wall—nothing could be accomplished until we could move back and forth more freely through the space.
Then I began edging each piece of furniture toward its ultimate destination. It was like dancing with elephants.
By late afternoon Michael had unpacked all the boxes and stowed their contents—everything from shower curtain to blender—toward the front of the main room, where the dining table and chairs would eventually be placed.
In the meantime, I had managed to scoot, coax and finesse the bigger items into their intended rooms (with occasional help from Michael with the heavier pieces). By the end of the day the beds in both bedrooms had been assembled (twins in the back, queen-size in the front)…
…the kitchen had begun to take shape, and the living area had been knocked together with the few pieces we had so far.
Tomorrow we would begin placing all the smaller items where they belonged.
It was a start.
The next morning I called Steve to give him a first-hand report of how wonderful everything looked. His voice was thin and reedy.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“Back in the hospital,” he sighed. “I keep getting these damn lung infections.”
“Is Sue there?”
“Of course. She’s right here. I’m afraid this hasn’t been much fun for her.”
I tried to click into a lighter mood. “You wouldn’t believe how great the old place looks. You’re a genius.”
His sudden laughter degenerated into a protracted cough. “Thank Jane, not me. All I did was knock down a few walls.”
“That’s not true. It’s beautiful. We can’t wait for you to see it for yourself.”
A long pause.
“Me too,” he said. “And hey, thanks for calling.”