Aug. 24, 2008 - Well, we never thought it would be easy, but we really didn't know what was in store for us back in January when we began packing. When Paul and David, his brother, took the first 12' trailer load to Arkansas in April, they arrived at the storage facility only to find out the 10 x 20' unit we had reserved was no longer available. We should have known then that this would not all be smooth sailing. (They were able to get 2 smaller units, thank goodness!)
When we finally put the house up for sale at the end of April, I thought that it would sell before the end of May. Of course, as we watched the newspaper and saw the daily headlines announcing the poor housing market and plummeting prices; our hopes fell and fears increased. We should have known that God had a plan for us that was better than anything we could have prepared on our own.
We had been trying to sell Paul's car on carsoup.com, and finally did the third week of June. Two days later, I totaled my car! Suddenly we had NO cars. Fortunately, Carma and Ken have two cars and a truck and let us use their truck, which we affectionately called The Behemoth. It turns out that it couldn't have been better. We really needed it to haul our stuff.
Then along came Aaron and Catrina Shipley to an Open House we held (because of Carma's insistence) from 2-4 PM on Sunday in the last week of July. Everyone said an Open House was a waste of time, so we went ahead without much expectation. After 4:00, we ate dinner and left the dishes on the counter. I decided to put out my sewing machine on the kitchen table and work on some projects I had been putting off and Paul brought the laundry down to the living room and had piles sorted everywhere. After all, we had never had one buyer looking on a Sunday night in 3 months! As soon as I had fabric and thread spread out everywhere and the wash was going, the phone rang and Carla, our realtor, asked if it would be alright if a couple that saw our house that afternoon came back. Great!! We had never had anyone come back!! When did they want to come? . . . Carla said, "They're sitting in your driveway." OMG, I said, give us 5 minutes. You can't believe how fast Paul and I shifted into overdrive and flew around the house trying to clean up the disaster. Aaron, Catrina, his mom and dad and their daughter all walked in. They loved it, but didn't want to commit.
The next morning after breakfast, Paul and I started the same sewing and laundry routine and couldn't believe it when Carla said they wanted to come again in 30 minutes! They were trying to decide between our house and another one and were going to write a contract on one of the two that day. We had to leave that afternoon and kept waiting for a call. By 5:00 we were starting to get a bad feeling. By 7:15 we decided it just wasn't going to happen, so I called Carla to see if she had heard anything. As it turned out, their meeting with the realtor to make the decision wasn't going to happen until 7:00, so we got back on the emotional roller coaster and kept waiting. Finally at 9:30 on July 28, Carla called to let us know they had picked our house. The relief was incredible.
After that everything went super-fast. The Shipleys wanted to close the next weekend, but we wanted to wait until the end of August to finish wrapping up our St. Louis lives - doctor's appointments, finances, pension checks, no forwarding address, moving van, garage sale, movers for the baby grand and last time get-togethers with our friends.
Our last day in St. Louis was on Thursday, Aug. 21. Paul picked up the 26' moving van (the largest they have) and drove it home at 7:00AM. We wanted to get an early start wrapping up the house before the movers got there at 10:00 AM. We kept watching the sky and the radar, but it continued to pour rain. The two movers arrived a little early and that was fine. Then the problems began. The guys disassembled the china cabinet and decided to carry the bottom (the lightest half at about 200 lbs.) out first. When I saw that they were carrying out the wood cabinet without any cover on it, I grabbed a towel and ran out to the moving van. They were already starting to cover the piece up with a moving blanket - WET! I told them that I needed to dry the wood finish before they wrapped it up, or it wouldn't be worth keeping the furniture. The one guy said he need some tape to hold the blanket and I ran into the house to get it. The next thing I heard Paul saying was, "Where are the guys going?" "What guys?" "The movers." "WHAT??!!! You have got to be kidding me??!!!" And they were gone.
In a panic, Paul got on the internet to find movers who could come that day. (Ha, Ha) I called Tiffany at work. "Tiff, do you have any young guys who could help us move right now? We are paying $50.00 an hour." She called back in 5 minutes. Josh, the guy who works in the desk next to hers, immediately asked his boss for a vacation day and was at our house by 12:00 quickly followed by another friend of Tiff's, Chris (a huge guy the size of a refrigerator, much to our glee). Mark, our friend, came to help during his long lunch/workout hour(s). The guys stayed for 2 hours and by that time all of the biggest, heaviest pieces were on the truck. Paul and I finished the job by 5:00 PM.
Friday morning, Paul and I were up at 3:00 AM and after the last minute packing and cleaning we were ready to leave the house at 6:00 AM. Paul had one more thing to stick in the front passenger seat of the Big Behemoth. As he opened the door to the cab, out fell our Austin sculpture. His hands were full, so he tried to drop kick the statue into the yard with his foot so it wouldn't hit the concrete driveway; unfortunately, the darn thing hit the cement and knocked her head off. I heard the crash. Paul came around the back of the truck with the bubble wrapped ceramic cradled in his arms. He was sick about it. We had worked so hard and then this. Oh, well, we had planned for problems and this was just one more.
As we did the last walk through our home of 27 1/2 years we started to get sentimental. Then we walked into the dining room - and what did we see??? The doors to the china cabinet had been left leaning against the walls! Oh, brother, what else could happen?
So we were off, Paul in the Big Behemoth and me following in the Little Behemoth. Ten hours of driving in darkness ands rain later, we arrived in Hot Springs.
The next morning Paul and I were unloading the van at 7:00 AM, so that we could get a lot of the boxes off of the truck before the movers arrived at 10:00. Well, at 10:00, no movers were in sight, so I called the company. Nick (the boss in Little Rock) apologized for not writing it on his calendar and said he could get some guys there by noon. Paul and I continued working, but soon realized all of our stuff was not going to fit in the two climate controlled storage units. We needed another unit and it was threatening to rain. We had stuff laying everywhere out on the gravel and had to get it stored before it got soaked. No surprise, the Storage management is not there on the weekends and there was no one there to ask! So we drove around and found an open unit. As I write this, we are squatters! At noon, no movers. Nick said they were getting ready to leave and should be there by 1:30 or 2:00. Paul and I continued unloading. At 2:00, Nick said they had broken down on the road and should be there by 3:00. They finally arrived at 3:45. Paul and I had unloaded all but 7 pieces of furniture. In 45 minutes they were done and left. Ten hours from the time we started, Paul and I were DONE and exhausted.
Today, we are the happiest people in the world. Let the adventures begin!!