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Surprise remodel puts couple back on track

Surprise remodel puts couple back on track

Money Today Johnson

Gretchen and Bill had been married for 35 years. When they first met, Gretchen did not consider herself a farm girl. However, she had been a fast learner and shared Bill’s passion for agriculture and was not afraid to work hard.

Over the years they built a profitable farm operation, running almost 1,000 acres of land and feeding cattle. There were many ups and downs, but they always worked together.

Gretchen and Bill moved on to the family farm when they were in their 30s. The house had been remodeled before they moved in, but nothing really had been updated since then. It was warm and comfortable and the right size for their family. Gretchen had not complained, but over the years things had become outdated.

Whenever Gretchen brought up the topic of fixing the house, there were always other things that were needed, and all money was spent on the farm. This was a valid argument in the early years, but over time Bill accumulated the essentials and also things that might be considered toys.

During the pandemic’s winter months, Gretchen brought up the subject several times, but Bill was not interested in talking about it. Then it was planting time and everything else came to a halt while planting, spraying and fertilizing were the highest priorities.

By early June, there was a break in the action and Bill and his brother and one of the neighbors decided it was time for a fishing trip at the Canadian border. Bill had recently updated his fishing boat and was excited to test it out.

Bill carefully prepared for his trip, making sure he had all his gear. Gretchen also prepared for Bill’s trip, knowing he would be gone for 10 days. On the Monday of departure, Bill and his fishing companions started their drive shortly after sunrise.

At noon on the same day, Gretchen’s two sisters showed up at the house. They spent the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening emptying every cabinet and shelf. They wrestled all the appliances out of the kitchen and into the living room. The only thing left in the kitchen that night was the refrigerator.

The next morning, a contractor showed up with two men. Over the next two days everything in the kitchen, including the walls, were stripped. All that was left were the studs and insulation between them.

On Thursday, an electrician and a plumber showed up. Conveniently, there were detailed plans for the needed wires and how the plumbing would change. By Thursday evening both the electrician and plumber were gone and in the garage were numerous sheets of drywall and a small mountain of boxes containing cabinets.

Friday afternoon there were new walls and ceilings in the kitchen. Gretchen and her sisters painted them in record time. By the end of Friday night, a couple of the cabinets were already on the wall and the frames for the kitchen sink, garbage disposal and dishwasher were in place.

The carpenters worked a full day on Saturday, carefully hanging the rest of cabinets. The sisters all went out for supper Saturday night and rested on Sunday.

On Monday morning the plumber and the electrician were back to finish installing all the lighting and plumbing. As they exited the house, a flooring company made quick work of the new laminate floor. Late Monday afternoon the countertops all showed up. It was amazing how much the kitchen changed as the countertops covered up all of the lower cabinetry.

On Tuesday morning, the plumber came back and hooked up the sink and all the faucets. In the afternoon a new kitchen table and chairs arrived. Gretchen and her sisters hung the new curtains and pictures on the wall. On Wednesday morning it was time to bring everything back in and fill all the cabinets and shelves. Gretchen had previously decided it was time to update the fridge along with a new dishwasher and stove. All were carefully wheeled in and hooked up.

The men were due back on Wednesday evening and the sisters decided they would cook a special meal for them at Gretchen’s house to celebrate their return. The truck with the boat behind it showed up about 7:30 that evening. They were met outside as they shared stories of the trip. After a while everybody made their way into the house.

Bill was struck dumb as he looked around the kitchen and sat down at the new table. After a few minutes he said he liked what they had done. Everyone examined all the new cabinets, appliances, and talked about the configuration of the kitchen.

After dinner, Gretchen and Bill talked for a while. Bill was genuinely impressed with what had transpired while he was gone. He was also impressed with Gretchen’s initiative and drive. They spent the rest of the evening inspecting Gretchen’s plans for the other remodels in the house which she was determined to do that summer.

Gretchen and Bill’s experience is a reminder that everything has a time. There are times to farm, and also times to remodel.

Bob Dunaway and Associates offer estate and retirement planning. Gary Johnson can be reached at 563-927-4554 or by emailing him at

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