Have you ever struggled with a task, like writing a letter you were dreading, and then you finally get it done, only to have it disappear, and then you have to reconstruct it? The only thing worse than having to do a distasteful job is to have to do it all over again, because something went wrong.
Yesterday, my friend Michelle and I took on the daunting task of inventorying all my mothers possessions in her cramped and cluttered assisted living apartment. When she moved in in May, she was supposed to have prepared an inventory for the management of the property. My daughter Kara and I had planned to do that, but there were so many boxes to unpack and objects to find places for that we ran out of time and inclination. For a solid week, we dealt with hundreds of things, literally hundreds, so by the end of Karas week, we were so disgusted with THINGS that we both wanted to go home and start throwing out all our own THINGS. The word things became a dirty word. We had planned for Kara to go over to her Grandmas and have a cup of tea with her, take her for a stroll around the gardens, take her out for lunch, look at photo albums together, you know, all the things you do with your grandmother. But no, she had to spend her whole visit unpacking and stowing THINGS.
Armed with my Victor Reader Stream, a wonderful digital book player and recording device, Michelle and I started with the bedroom closet. My plan was for her to say out loud everything she saw, and then later, I would listen to the recording and type it out. She counted shoes, tops, pants, purses, and other belongings. I discovered that my mother has 39 tops. Do I have 39 tops? I should count them. She has 2 evening purses, a pair of red shoes, and a pair of purple shoes, both with heels. She has 5 red hats, so shes all set if they ever start a Ret Hat Society where she lives. We then moved on to the dresser, the pictures on the walls, the bookcase, the knickknacks, and the CD towers. Michelle methodically read the titles of the paperback and hardcover books, the record albums, and the VHS tapes. Mother has neither a VHS player or a record player, but she likes having the things on display. It shows off her taste in reading and listening. Never mind that she never actually looks at any of those things on the bookcase. Then, I began to worry about the battery status of the recording device. I tried to put the recording on pause and then push the button for checking the battery, but in doing so, I trashed the recording. Two hours of work were gone. Time for a lunch break and regroup. I cant read all those record titles again, Michelle lamented. But after a comfort food lunch of roast beef sandwiches and way too many fries, she rallied and began a second trip through the records and books. I placed the Victor Reader on the floor beside her, and she got almost all the way through the books, when she glanced at the little green light that indicates that its on, and the little green light was off. It had shut itself off! Again, the recording was gone. Just gone. Twice, we went through this laborious task, and for nothing. Defeated by THINGS again, I went home and went to bed, my typical way of dealing with unpleasantness. We had wasted a day, with nothing to show for it, except for a resolve to not let me be defeated. I called HumanWare, the manufacturer of the Victor Reader Stream and was coached by phone through a resetting, which should fix the problem. However, next time, which is when Kara comes for a visit in a few days, well take a good old-fashioned tape recorder as well, and a camera. Im just not doing this more than 3 times. Third times the charm?