by Susan McBride
I've been helping my parents move this past week, and it hasn't been easy. I feel bad for my mother who loves her old house (built in 1921 with green tile roof, original stained glass, and character coming out the wazoo). It's been hardest on her as she told us once, "I want to die in this place." But my dad's bum knees and back made it tough for him to go up and down stairs (and that house had plenty of them). So they put Casa McBride up for sale a year ago and looked at ranch houses, finding one they both really liked. Only their house didn't sell. It was on the market for months and months, and no bites except for a man who looked twice with his fiance, nearly made an offer, and then decided he didn't really like his fiance anymore. This year, they hired a different realtor, started at a bargain basement price (something Mom was not willing to do a year ago), and they sold within a month. Thankfully, they found their new house just in time. They closed on it last Wednesday. The buyers closed on their old house yesterday.
For the past few weeks, it's been Crazy City with my mom trying to clear out stuff that she couldn't take to a house 1,000 square feet smaller than Big Old House. She had my sister come in town from NYC to go through all the crap she'd stored in their basement (and closets and third floor). Molly hardly got rid of it all, but did fill several Goodwill bins. Then my brother (who is married with two kids and has a plenty-big house of his own) finally took everything belonging to him that they'd been keeping for years and years, too. Even still, there was too much to move. So last weekend, they had an estate sale of lovely antiques (and, yes, some junk) that Mom had collected for 30 to 40 years. It went fabulously with about 75% selling on the first day and another 15% selling on Sunday for half-price. (Um, anyone want a 17" x 21" rug, a chrome and glass coffee table circa 1972, or a very old French baker's rack?)
My aunt, uncle, and I helped them load a U-Haul before the real movers came. Mom didn't want movers doing any packing of boxes. We moved about five or six times when I was growing up (Dad worked for IBM = I've Been Moved), so Mom's an expert packer. Well, she packs by kind of throwing anything within reach into one box and then moving onto the next. Precision-packing it ain't, but it gets the job done. We filled the rental truck with box after box after box, finally shoving in anything else that wasn't bolted down that we could lift. We unloaded it all at their new house the next day then went back again for another load. Oy!
I'll be 45 in October, and I usually feel a decade younger (have to keep up with my husband who's, er, 35). But after all that bending, lifting, and carrying my right knee and hip felt about 100. I used to pride myself on being so athletic and flexible. I was a gymnast, a cheerleader, a Varsity track star (okay, a really slow star, like one who trips over the finish line after finishing last in the 400 meters). What had happened to me?
I can't even blame it on the breast cancer. That was 2-1/2 years ago, and I've got nearly full range of motion in my left arm/shoulder and darned good strength again. I hired a personal trainer once I was cleared by my surgeon, and Nicole whipped me into great shape before my wedding in February of 2008. I kept to that routine even after I couldn't afford Nicole anymore (or at least, justify spending $60 an hour on Nicole several times a week), and I felt as good as I've ever felt. Until my deadline crunch this year with two books due within five months of each other nearly killed me. My Epstein-Barr flared up again, which is like having mono revisit. Oh, joy! I felt drained, exhausted, tearful. The only way I could write 24/7 and get the books done was to drop everything else I could possibly drop. Yep, I stopped exercising.
Now I've got everything turned in, and I've started testing the exercise waters again. I went to Nicole's Pilates class several times to check it out, and I'm hooked. It's like one of those things where you feel like you're doing something but you're not sure how much because you aren't dripping profusely with sweat...and then the next day you can hardly move. I wish I'd had about a month or two of those classes before The Great Parental Move. I feel like a wimp.
I read somewhere that it takes 10 days to lose the benefits of regular exercise and at least 10 weeks to regain it. That hardly seems fair. I just wish someone could invent WD-40 for humans. "One squirt and you're silent as a well-oiled door hinge!" It'd make billions.