It seemed inconceivable that things could have gone this horribly wrong.
We had been in frequent communication with our realtor, ..who, in turn, was in frequent communication with Lia Munson's realtor, ..who was in frequent communication with Mrs. Munson, ..and she said Lia had signed all the selling contracts and even reminded her of the closing date. ..Mrs. Munson had even determined the date personally, giving herself almost 4 months to pack and move.
Surely, there was someone who had been keeping tabs on things at her end.
I asked Lia the last time her realtor checked in. She said it was "weeks ago", then began talking about how much she disliked her realtor. How she "didn't give her enough time to move", how "impersonal" she was, and other minor character criticisms that had more to do with demeanor than real estate.
I asked Lia if her real estate attorney was aware of the situation.
..That really set her off.
Apparently, she hated the lawyer she had hired for the transaction. It was more of the same kind of criticism, but modified with words like "shifty" and "jerk". She didn't like speaking on the phone with him unless she absolutely had to, and at that point she had stopped letting him into the house.
As I said earlier, Lia seemed numb and shell shocked by everything that was happening that day. ..In fact, when she answered the door she was wearing an ace bandage on her wrist and hand. Apparently, she had lost her balance when stepping on something and sprained it. It was pretty puffy and bruised looking, and I recommended she have it looked at by a doctor. She kind of shrugged it off, saying she didn't want to bother because she had so much to do. My wife, Jane, offered to drive her to the nearby healing clinic, where she worked, but she refused.
On the surface, she seemed calm, if tired and unfocused, but I could tell that she was somewhat in denial of the whole event. She quietly guided us into the kitchen to finish our conversation, where she continued delicately wrapping old crystal goblets in newspaper, and tucking them into a small open box.
So, with baited breath, I asked the inevitable;
"Lia? Are you expecting to be completely packed and moved out today?"
"I'm going out to rent a truck later today. I'm taking one load to Minnesota tonight, and the rest I'll need to put into storage somewhere here."
(..an 86 year old woman, driving a loaded rental truck through the night to Minnesota. ..With a sprained [if not broken] wrist.)
I asked her if she had a storage facility set up. She didn't.
I asked if she had movers or packers scheduled. She didn't. "A couple of neighbors" were going to help her.
(Apparently, the elves weren't coming).
It was clear that she didn't realize, until the past day or so, that she was way over her skis. ..and even then she didn't know just how far.
After our conversation with Lia, Jane and I regrouped in the living room and left her to pack. We had to do something, pretty fast.
This was what we had originally orchestrated:
-Closing on our house in Oak Park 10:30 am
-Closing with Lia Munson for our new house in Rogers Park at 1:30
-Pick up the kids from school at 3:00, unpack a few things from our van, set up camp in the new house that night.
-Next day; The 18 wheeler, with movers bringing in all our belongings (diverting everything to specific zones). Pick up a few groceries, and dine out.
-Next day; Floor finishers! ..To rip out every inch of carpet, linoleum, and vinyl in the place. Followed by sanding 2 stories of oak floors, to be sealed and finished.
Now, we didn't know when she'd be moved out, ..but there was no way Lia's belongings were going to be packed and gone today.
..We couldn't unload our van and sleep there tonight. ..Our stuff couldn't be delivered tomorrow, because there was no place to put anything. ..and the flooring contractor couldn't start on the floors until everything had been moved into the house, someplace.
It was time to devise plan B.
Jane volunteered to get on the phone and find some accommodations for at least the next few days, and I went back to speak with Lia in the kitchen.
I asked if she was okay, and she seemed to be having some discomfort with her wrist.
I offered her a ride to the closing downtown a little later, and she politely declined. I asked what time her neighbors were going to come over to help pack, and she said around 6 pm.
At that point, it was getting toward lunch and Jane and I wanted to eat before meeting with Lia and her attorney at 1:30. We found parking downtown, had a quick lunch and were actually a few minutes early getting there. We were ushered into a small conference room where Lia Munson's lawyer, Michael Pardys, came in and introduced himself. We sat down, and I began explaining what just happened at the house. As we spoke, it became obvious that he didn't like her either. He winced, shaking his head occasionally as I talked, and when we finished he confessed that she berated him. Mr. Pardys felt that Mrs. Munson was extremely tempermental.
He told us that she was, by far, the worst person he'd ever had to deal with, personally or professionally, and that we had his complete sympathy and cooperation.
Jane and I looked at each other, bewildered. Lia Munson had been nothing but kind and pleasant to us. We began discussing our concerns, and Lia's lawyer assured us that under our contract she would be held liable for any extra expenses incurred. Accommodations, meals, storage facilities, ..everything.
I felt some relief, though it didn't solve all of our problems. We'd still be out-of-pocket for the time being, ..plus I actually felt bad for Lia at this point. As much of a shitstorm everything had become, there was no way that I could be angry at her. I was certainly frustrated by the situation, ..but to take that out on her wouldn't serve anything. Jane hung up her cel phone, after a returned call, to let me know that our friends (who would be putting us up for a couple of nights while our floors were being finished) had made space for us early. ..We'd be able to stay there for the next few days. ..More relief.
Mr. Pardys started to become concerned about the time, and phoned Mrs. Munson.
It was well after 2 pm. Lia ...was at home, packing.
He reminded her of the time and asked if she was coming at all.
She told him that she did come downtown, but couldn't find the address, so she went back home.
He began to explain to her how that would complicate things further, ..but it was obvious that she became irate with him almost immediately. It just wasn't going well for her lawyer, at this point.
..I suppose it was the sense that Jane and I were the only people in this entire affair that she liked and trusted, but I asked Mr. Pardys if I could speak with her on the phone for a minute. He couldn't hand me the receiver fast enough. Within a few minutes I had Mrs. Munson agree to grant Mr. Pardys the power of attorney.
He would bring the papers over later and the closing would be rescheduled for tomorrow, only now she wouldn't have to come downtown. Simply put; It saved her trouble, and saved us time.
The phone call ended, and so did the meeting. We were just in time to pick our kids up from school at 3. ..And, after unpacking a few necessities, we all went out to an early dinner with our friends, filling them in on the day's events.
I remember at one point, during supper, wondering about Mr. Pardys.
..Wondering if Lia Munson would actually make him stand outside on the porch, in the middle of November, while she sat inside and signed those papers.