Good Advice

Minding Mama

Remember when our mamas admonished us If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?

Well, if you’ve talked to me recently, you know I’ve been having trouble living up to Mama’s expectations. That’s because we’ve been cleaning up after folks who left one of our rent houses in sad shape when they moved out without notice.

We’re landlords. We’ve been in the business almost as long as we’ve been married, and for the most part, it’s been good to us. Granted, we’ve put in lots of sweat equity, which is why many of you have told us you wouldn’t do it. But we’ve hung in there long enough to accumulate some nice homes in good neighborhoods and lease to some great long-term tenants.

Tired Terry after painting
the entire house in one day

However, occasionally, someone lets us down. When it happens, we spend anywhere from a few days to several weeks cleaning and repairing the damage. Terry’s a top-notch handyman with amazing stamina, which is why this landlord game has worked. I’m his helper and chief cleaner, but he works lots more hours than I do.

Once he gets over the initial shock and anger, he just rolls up his sleeves and does what’s necessary. I, however, continue to grouse about the dirt, damage and lack of responsibility on and on.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been sweeping, mopping and scrubbing the premises, along with sorting through a mountain of useable clothes (good Levis and school uniforms), toys and household items. And did I mention muttering about no home training?

So, you see, I haven’t posted recently because I’ve been busy. Plus each time I thought about writing a post, I couldn’t think of anything nice to say. And I remembered another principle Mother drummed into us early.

Think twice about what you write in notes and letters (Facebook, your blog).  It may come back to haunt you.

One memory that stayed with me from high school was when our geometry teacher intercepted a snarky note one of the girls had written about her orthopedic shoes. Even then I doubted she was wearing those ugly shoes by choice, and I felt bad for her. I’ve never forgotten how hurt she looked.

Back to my original problem, starting today, I’m trying not to complain about the family who left so mysteriously. I’ll admit, it’s hard, but I remind myself that I have no idea what they were going through to make them depart in such a manner. They probably need all the understanding they can get. So I’m trying to shift from complaining to praying for them.

But might I add one thing in that great Southern tradition?

Bless Our Hearts. 

A bright spot: I couldn’t bring myself to throw away much of what was left behind. The Arkansas Dream Center pass on what I salvaged to folks who lost everything in the tornado.

…pray for them which despitefully use you... Matt 5:44