Typically the realtor emails his sellers’ names and address to me, and requests that I contact the homeowners to set up my Staging consultation with them.
This time, though, he wrote, “Call me before you contact these sellers.”
I figured he was going to give me a heads up about condition issues like a crumbling brick wall, mountains of junk in the basement, and water damage in the family room.
He did. But those issues weren’t why he wanted to talk to me before I called his sellers, the Wolfs.
The realtor began haltingly, “The woman, Lydia, is…she’s had brain surgery…she’s different.”
“When I talked to her, she came across…she’s uh…she’s weird.”
“I gave you her husband’s cell number. Make the appointment with him.”
I rang the Wolf’s doorbell three times. Knocked a few times. No answer. I returned to my car in the driveway and began calling the husband’s number to see if I’d shown up on the wrong day or wrong time or what? Then I heard a woman’s voice coming from the area of the front door. I killed my phone and went to meet whoever was yelling, “Hello! Hello?”
“Hello!” I replied.
The voice grew closer and said, “I don’t know who I’m saying ‘hello’ to.”
Neither did I. I told her my name and why I’d come.
Lydia, an attractive pixie with slightly bowed legs and stains on the front of her shirt, walked toward me with a drunken swagger.
“I’m from the south,” she announced. “That’s why I talk like this.” Her words were slightly slurred, not southern.
We entered into what is one of the most attractive living rooms I get the pleasure to see in this job. Lydia began talking about Arkansas and this house and her daughter and her apartment and more.
Her husband, with whom I was scheduled to meet, wasn’t home. I considered rescheduling my visit to a time when the husband would be available, but I didn’t want this to be a wasted trip.
I interrupted Lydia’s ramblings and said, “I’m having trouble focusing. Tell me how I can help you with getting the house ready for the market.”
“I was born in Arkansas,” she said and continued with her life’s timeline, somehow, to today. She added that she’d do anything I say to help the house show well. She also mentioned that her husband has been living in another place for the past 10 years.
As we walked from room to room, we had a rather typical Staging consultation conversation.
When we were on the second floor, she opened the same closet door three times to show it to me. She seemed to be dwindling. When we got to the spacious master bedroom, she sat on the bench at the end of the bed and curled into herself. Something was shifting.
“Come here,” she said.
I sat next to her on the bench.
She said, “When I was nine years old I had appendicitis for three days and no one knew it. The doctor said I had a sexually transmitted disease. I was little! I’d never had sex!”
“Oh, that’s awful,” I said softly.
“I’ve had 25 surgeries for obstructed bowl syndrome,” Lydia said. “I’m supposed to make an appointment with my neurologist, but I don’t want to see any f****** doctors!”
“I don’t blame you.” I put my arm around her waist and stroked her side.
“That hurts,” she said.
I jerked my hand away. “Sorry!”
“I mean you’re rubbing the spot that’s sore. It feels good.”
I put my hand on her side again and stroked her.
She talked about missing her daughter who is away at school, and she said, “My husband doesn’t like me…” She leaned in closer, rest her head on my chest and sobbed.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be with Lydia, for giving me the grace to hold her to me as she wept. Feelings of calmness, tenderness and patience filled me as we sat there. I was imaging Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit in me, that encounter would have gone very differently. I probably would have been uncomfortable, to say the least, flinty, aloof, pissed off, task-oriented, sarcastic.
Finally, the estranged husband arrived. Lydia went downstairs somewhere. The husband and I talked about the water damage and other condition issues in the house. No mention of Lydia.
As I was heading toward the back door, I walked into the family room. Lydia was dry-swallowing a pharmacopeia of prescription meds stashed in the coffee table drawer. She lay down and pulled a cover over herself. As I walked past her, she held her arm up. I leaned over and entwined my arm with hers.
Sleepily, she said, “I enjoyed your visit.”
“I enjoyed my visit, too.”