“Well, let’s just say I think the condo’s perfect.” Mom’s Southern accent resurfaces when she’s excited. “I just can’t wait for y’all to get up here and see it! Dad says it’ll be a tad big once Anna moves out, but I think it’s the perfect size for grandkids.”
I smiled as I unlocked the door to our Riverside apartment and tossed my work satchel under Ivan’s keyboard. Grandkids seemed a long way off. “That sounds really great, Mom. I can’t wait to see it at Thanksgiving. How many bedrooms did you say again?”
“Well, right now we’re doing two, but technically I think it’s three. We’re just using the third one as the piano room, you know, so Anna can practice when she’s home on break.”
The piano room. Of course. We’d always had some sort of music room once my sister and I started studying music seriously way back in elementary school – even if this relegated us to a single bedroom. We’d split a trundle bed in the house before I got married.
“Nice! I’m sure she’s going to love that. Well, I hate to cut it short, but I have a gig tonight, and I’ve got to throw something together for dinner before my call time.”
“Oh…wasn’t that last week?”
“Last week Ivan and I played a wedding. This week I’m playing with the Corona Symphony.”
“Well, okay. But I really can’t wait for y’all to get up here and see the condo.” She laughed. “And the piano room.”
Needless to say, my accident erased Mom’s original vision for the San Jose condo. Thankfully nothing erases God’s plans, and that condo has been essential to our story over the past four years. There was space for Ivan and me to join Anna and my parents for a few weeks while we found an apartment that summer when we first moved to San Jose. The same was true last December when I needed LOTS of help after Ivan’s jaw surgery. And now Mom and Dad have come to the rescue once again while Ivan and I are caught between an expired apartment lease and a delayed construction completion date.
To recap recent events, Ivan and I were extremely excited to purchase our first home this summer. The only snag was that our apartment lease expired August 9th but our condo wouldn’t be completed until mid-October. Mom and Dad offered one of their extra bedrooms to facilitate the six-week gap, which already seemed like a huge sacrifice considering they’d barely enjoyed two months as empty nesters. (Anna got married in May.)
Until the condo completion date was pushed back to March – two weeks after we’d already moved in with my parents.
Ivan and I received the news with fear and trembling, already well aware that a month-to-month lease was well above our pay grade. Mom and Dad instantly offered to facilitate the gap (without our mentioning the pay grade part). It doesn’t take a genius to infer that sacrificing one’s privacy for eight months is light years different from sacrificing it for six weeks. I also suspect the number of sane adults who’d enjoy an involuntary leap from one cat to three could be counted on one paw.
But I’m stating the obvious inconveniences. Here less obvious ones include:
- 80% of lights going off after dusk (i.e. 4 pm)
- Forgoing various and sundry Christmas decorations due to flashing lights and/or destructive cats
- Listening to Ivan lead choir warm ups at random times of day (Dad: “Is that a cat howling?”; Mom: “Is Ivan okay?”)
- Referee-ing frequent cat fracases
- Splitting the fridge, coordinating laundry times, giving up basically all “empty nester” perks they’ve enjoyed since Anna moved out
Not once has Mom or Dad complained about the housing arrangement or suggested shortening our stay. When I imagine serving others, I usually include some sort of parameter: “I’ll devote [reasonable amount of time] to [favored recipient] on [convenient day].” Ivan and I have shattered that paradigm with our seven-month stay at my parents’ condo. No matter how much Mom and Dad love us, I doubt they’d still call us convenient at the beginning of Month Five.
But in spite of the aforementioned drawbacks to living with grown, high-maintenance children, Mom and Dad have done their best to make our stay memorable. They’ve blessed us with everything from letting us in on empty nester secrets (Why did they wait til Anna and I left to start Donut Tuesday??) to incorporating traditional Chinese dishes in Mom’s recent, organic cooking revolution (which required tracking down unfamiliar Farmer’s Market stands and LOTS of Googling).
Ironically, Mom suggested Ivan and I move into the first-floor “piano room” instead of the upstairs second bedroom “to give everyone maximum privacy.” I’d never imagined falling asleep next to the Kawai grand piano where Ivan teaches Zoom lessons. Then again, I can’t think of a better place to wait for our new lives to start.
All this to say: Mom and Dad, thank you for the piano room – and everything you do every day. 2021 would literally not be possible without you!