Home repairs or “Hell freezes over”

old_man-2Going to Hell? You’re in luck. It just froze over. I know it froze over because of what my dad said. He’s said a lot of bizarre things, and I’ve tried to document them all here, but this one is so out of his realm I’m still reeling.

Two weeks ago, my husband was talking to him on the phone, discussing our major home repairs, and my dad said, “Listen, if you need help, I have some money set aside for things like this.” While they were talking, I heard my husband say, “Well, we really appreciate that. I don’t know what to say. Thank you.” I had my doubts, but when they hung up, my husband confirmed that my prosperous-but-miserly Dad did indeed offer us money to pay for the repairs.

House_sitting_on_a_pile_of_moneyAll hell broke loose with our house just before Thanksgiving (because at the time, Hell did still exist.) We’d had heavy rains for days on end and water leaked into our basement bathroom, bar and laundry room. When we cut away the wall, we found a large crack in the concrete, and a pile of dirt inside the wall. Upon further investigation, my husband found the source of the dirt — a good-sized hole in the house where our wood siding was buried and rotted away. (See “Home Repairs or ‘Sealer at Home Depot.'”) We had a foundation company come out, and because a lot of the work had to be done by hand, the price quote was more than twenty thousand dollars.

Our insurance company sent an adjuster, but it won’t even say if or how much of the work it’ll cover. But if the job’s not done by February 3rd, insurance will drop us.

We told my dad about the problem, who admonished us to get another estimate and told tales of his neighbors, who he was certain had comparable work done and only spent three to six thousand dollars. Once we told him about the repairs, he called about every other day, to reiterate that our estimate was too high and regale us with the same stories about the same neighbors. This went on for more than a month.

My husband rented an excavator and did a great deal of the digging work himself, and we told my dad, who complimented our frugality. And a month and a half after we told him about the trouble with the house –a month and a half of thrice-weekly, unsolicited-advice-laden phone calls–he offered my husband money. Hallelujah! I seriously almost fainted when I heard.

The thing was, we don’t have the money to pay for the work and we were going to ask my dad for a loan. My mother-in-law had offered to mortgage her house to help us but we couldn’t ask her to do that. I hated the idea of asking my father because it would make me revert to my early twenties, when I’d lost my job or had a huge rent increase and would ask him for financial help. I never want to be that person again, begging my dad for money, my rent and my groceries and my existence at his mercy.

My dad didn’t tell me about his offer until this week. I can’t imagine that he thought my husband wouldn’t tell me, but he told me separately and confidentially as if my husband would and did leave me out of the loop. “I want to pay for this because I didn’t give you a wedding,” he said.

“Thanks, Dad. We really appreciate that.” Wow.

Wait a minute, WHAT? A WEDDING? Why would he say that? Obviously the idea of giving money to his only child is so abhorrent that he had to rationalize it by “owing” us a wedding. Honestly. It’s not unheard of for parents to help their adult children financially. But is is unheard of for my dad to give up money. Besides, we’ve been married almost six years now and we tied the knot in Las Vegas. We never even discussed a wedding with my dad. But hey, if that’s what he needs to justify helping us out, I’ll gladly play along.

And that’s not all. We were going to ask him to pay for part of the repairs, but he offered to pay for the whole thing. Holy freakin’ shit!  What’s going on with him? And then it all came together. Almost immediately after telling me he wanted to help us, he started talking about his most recent car accident. (See “Life on Calamity Lane”) A few weeks ago, he launched his car, backwards, into his neighbor’s yard, took out a tree  and he’s baffled as to why it happened. (Maybe it’s because he’s 82, has a car accident at least once a year and shouldn’t be driving.)

Every phone call came with a new explanation of the accident. (See “Fifty Shades of Reality“) There were at least three excuses. But now he’s got a story and he’s sticking to it. According to him, his Toyota has a factory defect that makes the accelerator stick. There was a class action suit against Toyota, and a few weeks ago, my dad said he wanted to “get in on it.” He’s fresh off of winning a personal injury lawsuit, also for a car accident, and I guess he’s decided that lawsuits are his new retirement career. (See “Fifty Shades of Crazed”) Unfortunately for and unbeknownst to my dad, Toyota agreed to settle the class action suit in December. If he wants money from Toyota, he’ll have to file his own suit. But I’m sure he will.

I don’t think my dad feels bad about not giving us a wedding. I think my dad believes he’s safe to give us money because he’ll sign up for the lawsuit and recoup all of his generous gift in the settlement.  Whatever his reason, rationalization, or safety net, I’m glad he decided to help us. Sometimes he can surprise everyone — even me.