My artistic rendition of my new bedroom; it’s so quiet and peaceful! –

Clicking the blue link shares my song story about “With Me,” which inspired my post title:

Story behind WITH ME-PART 1

Link to performances, stories, lyrics and recordings: WITH ME


Soon there won’t be any more lesson clips for me to share. My voice teacher, Peaches, will be moving out-of-state. A discussion about my current life can be heard by clicking the two blue links below. There’s plenty of laughter!

LESSON #1 – 10/20/12 blog excerpt

LESSON #2 – 10/20/12 blog excerpt



“Smiling from space”

Moving was so exhausting that it left every part of my body sore. I remembered how when I was younger I participated in an 18-mile “walk-a-thon” fundraiser. That last mile was like walking on hot coals, and now my feet felt the same way.

As tired as I felt from being on my feet so much, I realized that anticipating moving was harder than the actual process. I discarded items that hadn’t been used in over five years. I donated or trashed 50% of my possessions. Disposing of clutter was cathartic. Once again, I lamented that I didn’t clean and do this years before without moving!

I tried to be sure to leave equal items for my husband. I sorted the food that he and my oldest son might eat. I left almost all of the household furniture, but took the smallest sofa that hadn’t been destroyed by our two cats. There were cups, dishes and silverware I separated. I took the blender and he got the toaster.

My big day began on a Sunday morning. I was tired before the professional movers even showed up. It was because that morning I was still opening cabinets and tossing items into bags. Although I knew I could go back later on, I was determined to help clean our large house. But I had no idea where I would put everything!

The movers were impressed that I marked all the items with yellow papers taped to them. While they brought furniture and boxes outside to a huge truck, I collapsed in a beach chair and watched them from the garage.

If I thought I was tired watching the movers load up the truck, my fatigue only increased once we arrived at my coop/apartment. I was paying for them by the hour and tried to direct things quickly. Bags and boxes piled up everywhere, but I made sure there was a pathway to navigate through.

Keeping track of the boxes that held “important items” was of the highest priority for me. I wanted to be sure I’d find my phone charger, toothbrush and computer disks.

The refrigerator was the most challenging aspect of the move. It took half an hour for the movers to get it into place. Because I anticipated not having a cold fridge for a while, I brought a small dorm refrigerator as a temporary measure. Ironically, it was the one my parents had used when they were in assisted living.

Finally, the movers left. I was too tired to eat lunch and collapsed on my bed. It was my parents’ old bed, probably about twelve years old. I planned to nap and then I’d start unpacking.

My teenage son was hungry, and I heard him yelling from the kitchen asking what he should eat. I told him to find something in the pantry, which I had begun stocking earlier in the week. There was peanut butter, jelly and bread to work with.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. I shuffled from my bedroom and opened the front door.

There was my brother, Norm, and sister-in-law, Jo. I began sobbing and said hysterically, “What are you both doing here?”

They replied, “We’re here to help you and we brought lunch. Let’s eat!” I sat down as they brought out salad, pizza and chicken.

I wasn’t tired anymore and would rest after they left. As I enjoyed my food, I told my brother that our parents would have been very proud of him.

I just knew my father was smiling down from heaven at that moment. 

My older brother, Norm, is holding me in this picture.

“I tried to find humor”

I unpacked methodically doing stretches of 4-5 hours at a time; in between I briefly rested. The floor was dirty and there was a lot of dust, which didn’t help. My eyes felt wobbly and blurry.

I was simply determined to get things to a level that was comfortable – without perfection.


Within only two days, I had unpacked the kitchen, bathroom and my bedroom. My office area waited. I had Internet, but it disappeared when the handyman unplugged things near my computer. Both of us tried to figure out the problem and I finally gave up and called the cable company. When it was reset over the phone, I cried while thanking the man who helped me. He explained how I could reset it myself next time. I made a mental note of that.


I was determined that I wasn’t going to be helpless forever.


My ignorance was apparent and I tried to find humor in it.


The day we moved, I waited the recommended amount of hours before plugging in the refrigerator. But after six hours, it did not seem cold and I panicked because there was a huge puddle below it. All day long, I brought out towels every few hours to dry the constant drips. I was concerned about what might happen while I was sleeping, but was too tired to do anything.


When my handyman arrived mid-morning, I showed him all the water on the floor. After a few minutes he laughed and said, “It looks like the water on the floor is coming from the ice here in the bin that melted.”


I couldn’t believe it. The refrigerator had been moved while it was still filled with ice!


Then he chuckled and said with his Irish accent, “It didn’t get cold because you needed to push the “on” switch that is right here on the inside of the door.”

I guffawed. My goodness; how I couldn’t wait to write about my ignorance! But there were too many things for me to do to even consider writing about anything. It would have to wait until I had unpacked more things.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t feel safe putting away food items in the kitchen. There was a rat on the loose. For several weeks, it left droppings in the drawers and was very unsettling. I had set up traps two weeks before moving, but no luck. The day before the move, I relented and bought some poison. The thought of seeing a dead or dying rat made me cringe, but I felt I had no choice.

My list for the handyman continued to grow. Every towel rack fell off the wall when I hung a towel on it. Those racks were probably as old as I was; how could I expect them to hold up after over fifty years? Below is one of my “To Do” lists.



Get computer working. Internet is there – YES!

Figure out how to print, scan, and fax.

Buy a color printer that works.

Go shopping for basic foods to put in the empty refrigerator. WAIT!

Replace bathroom towel rack that fell off and chipped the bathtub.

Have leaky bathtub faucet fixed.

Have leaky shower faucet fixed.

Toilet continues flushing for 10 minutes afterwards.

Fix icemaker on refrigerator.

Hang new light fixtures (which I need to buy).

Outside (contact management) fix broken rain gutter.

Landscaper – add some plants in the patio and clear out all the trash.

Call the dish network to come back and hook up T.V.s’

Figure out where to put the printer, scanner, color printer and everything else in boxes.

Buy some other lights, too.

Hang pictures, god knows where and which ones. Too many!

Bolt china cabinet and hutch to the wall so it doesn’t crash on top of someone.

Change insurance policy.

Contact everyone to give out my new address; especially credit cards.

Buy address labels.

Take my youngest son to 3 different appointments next week.



On the left, is where the medicine cabinet is supposed to go. It’s been on back order for 3 weeks. On the right, is where the towel rack fell off.

Despite all the problems, I loved the adventure of it all. I had no regrets and accepted everything. It was amazing how familiar everything felt. I easily imagined myself as a young child walking the hallway and switching on the lights. 

I especially loved my new bedroom.

Where I used to play guitar at my other house, the master bathroom. Now it is empty.

My new set up has lots of space to practice and eventually record. The lithograph behind my guitar is one my mother picked out from an artist we both liked two decades earlier.

I did have some moments where I felt my calmness fray. I was overwhelmed with physical pain and wasn’t tolerant of my childrens’ complaints. I couldn’t imagine working any harder or unpacking any faster. They weren’t happy about the kitchen being in boxes and were too busy setting up their own rooms to help me. I became quite irritated, but it was balanced out by their excitement over setting up their new room. I was compassionate about how difficult this change was in their lives, because they had never moved before. 

My irritation also evaporated quickly because of an amazing sensation of freedom. There were a thousand metaphors I could think of to describe that feeling. Later on, I would write many stories about it.


I pictured myself being on an island like in the movie “Swiss Family Robinson.”


I loved that movie as a child. Unfortunately, I was worried about theft and felt like I needed to be prepared for home invasions. I pondered about what to do for home security. What certainly alleviated my fear was the presence of my father; it was overpowering.

“I didn’t need to hear his voice on tape to remember his love”

When my two children weren’t home the next day, I turned on an old answering machine on the kitchen counter. It still had some messages on it from my father.


They were to his granddaughter who had lived there for two years. She was Norm’s daughter and had recently gotten married. When Norm and Jo were over on moving day, I played the messages for them. My sister-in-law began crying. I didn’t cry and smiled instead.

A picture of Norm and Jo from ten years ago

I pushed the play button, and my father’s unmistakable voice filled the kitchen. As he recited a litany of instructions, I imagined he was speaking to me. He droned on and on explaining boring details, but his love and concern came through with every word.


As I listened to my father’s voice, I looked over at the sea of boxes for me to unpack and felt calm. I decided to unplug the machine and put it into a box that held my father’s memorabilia. I would save it.


A few minutes later, a technician arrived to install a wireless modem and a phone line for me. He left and told me everything was working. I felt stupid, because I hadn’t checked the phone line. I wasn’t sure which box held the telephones, but suddenly came across it. I plugged one into the jack and it didn’t work. I tried another phone and it didn’t work either.


I was frustrated because I didn’t want to use my cellphone for the zillions of calls I had to make. Often I was on hold for half an hour. I had many things going on with both my mother and father’s estate. There was no end to documents that needed notarizing. On top of everything, I had misplaced the most important document of all: my mother’s Power of Attorney.


Now I felt like crying. I thought perhaps the phones I brought were the problem. One of them was part of a cordless set and I hadn’t brought the main unit! I was annoyed with myself.


I went back and took my father’s answering machine/phone out of the box and plugged it into the jack. It didn’t work either. As I unplugged it, the machine announced robotically, “All messages erased.” My heart skipped a beat. I put my head down on the counter and softly cried.


Then I lifted my head up with determination.


There was always a reason for something. This was about starting afresh. My father never threw anything out; he was a hoarder. I tossed the answering machine into the trash.


I didn’t need to hear his voice on tape to remember his love.


I was surrounded by it. When I needed anything notarized, it was free. Before he died, he insisted on paying the difference for a premium policy at the Automobile Club. It entitled me to free notary service. Each time I used that service, I thanked him.

In this picture my father is holding Jason at his circumcism ceremony.

“I doubted it was covered”

It was now three days since I had moved in. My bedroom was perfect. It held a wonderful spacious area for my guitar and music stand. Soon I’d set up that space with equipment to record vocals and my second book.


The kitchen was organized now, but the refrigerator still wasn’t cold. Aha! So this was more than my not pushing a switch. I wondered if it was still under warranty. I couldn’t find the warranty paperwork because I hadn’t unpacked the boxes in my office yet. I decided I’d just call the phone number listed on the door. With reading glasses and determination, I copied down all the numbers I’d need.


I called and the voice on the other end asked me for the model and serial numbers. The refrigerator was purchased in 2006 and was six years old; I doubted it was covered by anything after that length of time. I was put on hold while she checked on my warranty. As I waited, the memory flooded back to me.


My father was sitting next to me. His voice was very firm as he said, “I want you to buy the extended warranty. I am paying for it. Buy as many years as it will let you.”


I remembered how he insisted I do that on all purchases for the last five years.


He was unwavering and always pestered me to be sure I had followed his instructions. We owned two refrigerators and my husband had one with a long warranty also.


The lady came back on the line and said, “Yes, this is covered until 2014. We can schedule the repair for today.” I hung up the phone and tears poured down my cheeks as I went back to unpacking more boxes.

I am outside the coop for this picture taken before going to my high school prom. It looks exactly the same today. (Even though I don’t!)

“Peacefulness, even with stress”

On the fourth day, the repairman came to repair the refrigerator. I was so thankful I had brought the small dorm fridge as a standby. I packed as many items in it as I could.


The repairman said he had good and bad news. The good news was that the repair was free; all the parts being replaced would have it working like new. The bad news was that it might take a week for those parts to come in. Nothing mattered to me anymore. It was all temporary and fine.


I decided every hurdle was a test and I had passed them all.


The day before, my feet hurt standing in line at Kmart for 45 minutes while waiting to copy keys. I had plenty of copies somewhere, but couldn’t find them. I had gone back to Kmart because the mattress pad I purchased the night before never came home with me. I had to wait in line again while customer service checked their security cameras as proof before getting me another one.


Blood was dripping from my finger as I waited. I had cut my finger by brushing against something sharp while I was walking through the store.


I still smiled at the clerk helping me.

The same headboard can be seen in this picture from forty years ago of my mom and our family dog. One of my paintings is on her right. My parents decorated their coop with most of my artwork.

In one more day, my mother was coming from her nursing home to visit me and have lunch. She had not seen the coop for at least five years. I wondered how she would handle it with her severe dementia.

Last night, my bedroom felt comfortable as I undressed; I was exhausted. I played my guitar briefly and collapsed on the bed. Sleeping in this different room and bed alone after so many years of marriage hadn’t been as earth shaking as I anticipated.

Originally, I thought my post and writing would revolve around the experience of sleeping in my parents’ bed.

I still had the rapid heartbeat in the darkness. As I lay there, I felt the thumping begin to settle down. A warm calmness enveloped me. It was so quiet and peaceful. Finally, my heart  slowed down and beat softly, instead of pounding. It was all clear now.

I was home.

© Judy Unger and 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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