Despite wearing cumbersome leg braces, Tammie independently hoisted herself onto the dining room chair next to her big sister, Niki. While putting bowls of food on the table, I noticed that as usual Tammie was clutching her favorite toy in her left hand. All summer long, everywhere she went, my daughter took this small gray seal with her.
I suspected Tammie liked the plush-covered, stuffed animal because it fit perfectly in her small four-year-old hands. It had beady black eyes and bristly plastic whiskers, which I frequently caught her biting.
When Daddy took his place at the table we blessed our meal. Then I asked, “Tammie, why are you biting the seal’s whiskers?”
My daughter answered with conviction, “Because he WANTS me to!”
Tammie has always known what she wants. All through elementary and high school, she made specific goals, then worked hard to accomplish them. She completed college in four years and went directly into graduate school to study Information Science. Her first job started a week later.
Five years ago, Tammie moved to the Twin Cities to work as a librarian. She needed a place to live so I went with her to look at apartments. We discovered that it is hard to find exactly what you want. The place she chose did have many good features, but it was situated on a hill. Every bike ride Tammie took ended with her pumping hard to get back home.
There were other strikes against the place. The rooms were very large and had tall ceilings. After a time, my petit daughter explained why she wanted to move, “The place is too big for just one person!”
Tammie found a new apartment. She loved where it was located and so did I. Her new neighborhood had a small-town feel to it. There were many lovely biking paths nearby along the river.
Unfortunately, Tammie’s new home was on the third floor of an old building without an elevator. The laundry was in the basement. She no longer wears leg braces, but taking four flights of stairs down and four flight up three times just to wash one load of clothes was a bit much.
My daughter knows how to solve problems. She takes her laundry down the four flights to the basement before going for a bike ride along the river. When she returns, the wet clothing goes into a dryer. Then, she takes her car to do errands and by the time she returns, the clothing is dry, ready to be folded and lugged up four flights back to the apartment.
While visiting Tammie this summer, I complained because I like to cook when I visit, but her kitchen is 4 feet wide and 8 feet long with hardly any counter space. The pull string for the ceiling light hangs down low enough for my daughter to reach it, but every time I move between the stove, sink and refrigerator, it hits me in the face.
Although Tammie was content living where she is, she started looking for a home to buy last year, deciding a mortgage payment wouldn’t be any larger than her rent, plus it would build equity.
When I asked my daughter what she wanted, she listed, “I want a house near this apartment. I want an older home with character and wooden floors. I don’t want it to be big, nor do want a big yard.”
Nodding, I suggested, “You’re like Goldilocks. You felt like you were rattling around in your first Daddy-bear-apartment. This apartment, is like baby-bear’s. It’s too hot in the summer, too many flights up and too small.”
Tammie defended her home, “Mom, the size of the place doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers you. I like small. Remember all of my favorite toys and places where I liked to play when I was little?”
Smiling, I did recall the many hand-sized toys my daughter loved as she was growing up. Pretty little boxes, cute purses, decorative bags are still guaranteed to delight her. I said, “Go find your Mama-bear home, then. I need a place where I don’t need mountain goat knees just to visit. While you’re at it, make sure it has a kitchen that’s easier for me to use.”
Pictures of homes started to arrive in Facebook messenger from Tammie during the summer. She asked, “What do you think of this one? How about the last one?” When she found one she liked and made an offer, I pored over the pictures for hours. The offer was accepted and the house passed inspection.
The small home Tammie is buying was built in 1910. Since then it has been given new flooring, appliances and wiring. I’ve had fun trying to identify plants in her yard and look forward to helping her plant new flowers. I told my daughter, “You’ve found a house that is just. right!”