I was cleaning out a drawer and found an old manuscript. This was to have been a scene from a novel, involving a woman who loses her husband in mid life, inherits a few hundred thousand bucks and decides to put all of it into buying and restoring what was once a grand old house in their hometown. Here is a conversation between her and an old girlfriend who starts to advise her against the deal.
“You listen to me. Whatever that guy said it’s going to cost, it’s going to cost twice that much. At least. I’ve been through this too many times. That’s just the way it works. They always find something else that needs to be fixed before they can do what you wanted them to do and that will cost more than the original plan by itself and by then everything is torn apart and you’re stuck.
She paused. “I now that’s how it works. We remodeled some when we were down in Atlanta.” She paused again. “I still think I can make it.”
“Sherry, your house in Atlanta was built in the 1970s. It was a new house, practically. This house was built in . . . what . . . Nineteen-nineteen? World War I, Sherry. They built that house before television. Can you imagine?”
“I know. That’s the beauty of it. There’s no other place like it. Not around here.”
There was no response for a long time. When Kathy responded, she spoke slowly, pausing between every sentence. “God, I know. I do know. I don’t know like you seem to know. I don’t know to the extent that I’d sink my life savings into that place. But I do know. I do know what you mean. I want you to know that. I do understand. Some.
But here’s something else I do understand, Bobbie, and I didn’t understand it really until recently. I learned it late. You can lose, Bobbie. You can lose and it does make a difference. From now on.”
“You think I don’t realize that I can lose?”
“I’m not talking about that kind of loss. That’s different. I don’t mean to minimize or to say that I could handle it as well as you have or keep from going crazy. I don’t mean that. But money is different. You can have it one day and then you don’t and when it’s gone it ain’t coming back. At our age, there’s not much of a way to get it back. Nothing like what you’re talking about here.”
Bobbie laughed. “You can always marry money.”
“The odds of that happening are going down with every tick of the clock, honey. They’ve been going down for us for a long time. You don’t have anybody in mind, do you?”
“Bobbie, can you even imagine trying to run that place, even if you do get it fixed up? That house probably had a staff of servants when it was new. Have you thought of what it would cost to heat it? And you living there by yourself.”