Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 15, 2013

Marta Hepler Drahos: Summer wind-down not tranquil

Local columnist

---- — It’s been a trying summer in lots of ways, not the least of which is the illness and death of our third old dog in eight months.

So we were looking forward to playing tourist at the end of August with friends from St. Louis and with our 3-year-old grandson, who is coming for his first visit from Colorado with his parents.

My husband is already installing a window in the downstairs den when, at the last minute, we decide to spruce up the rest of the guest floor by taking on several other long-ignored projects. With the zeal born of a ticking clock, we paint and add knobs to sliding glass doors, put up a bathroom linen cabinet and replace the mattresses on my grandparents’ old spool bed.

We finish on the weekend of our family’s arrival with less than an hour to spare.

I haven’t had time to shop for groceries but figure we’ll pick them up as we go along.

We finally unwind over the next few days, during which I get in my first swim of the summer. The boat gets its second or third outing.

After seeing the family off, we go into high gear again to prepare for our friends’ same-day arrival. It’s been pouring since morning but I think nothing of it until they text to tell us they’re behind because of rain and fog. Just then, I hear ominous sounds from the basement shop.

I go downstairs to investigate and find my husband standing in a puddle of water.

It seems a roof joint has sprung a leak and water is flowing down a wall and spreading across the floor. Already it has soaked the bottoms of two bookcases and damaged some of his drawings from art school.

Frantically we move everything away from the wall, mop up the standing water and stuff towels where new water is seeping in. By now the rain has let up some, so we set up a fan on high and hope for the best.

We’re still sweating when our friends arrive but try hard not to show it. We only have four days together and we want to enjoy them.

And we do — until the third day. That’s when my husband comes to help with breakfast and tells me he’s having chest pains. We don’t want to ruin our friends’ vacation, so we send them off to explore on their own and drive to the hospital ourselves.

After a few days of observation, my husband passes a stress test and is sent home with a medication change and an order to follow up with his cardiologist.

I remember the quote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

And I decide that next summer will be different.