Sometimes, we’re a part of their stories.
A few years ago, I was working with a couple designing their retirement home in northeastern Ohio. They’d been imagining this home for years – it was going to be their last, and they wanted it to have everything they’d always dreamed of.
The couple was in their late sixties, and all of their children had graduated college, moved out, and gotten on with their own lives – except one, their 23-year-old son, still living at home.
We were reviewing an early set of preliminary plans at their kitchen table when the son walked in. He sat down and listened as I described each of the rooms and answered his parent’s questions about the design.
At some point in the discussion he chimed in with a few comments about one of the upstairs bedrooms – the biggest one, the one with the attached bath. He asked for a few changes and it became increasing clear that he assumed this bedroom would be his.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t in Mom and Dad’s plans for their house.
A week later we were again all at the kitchen table – Mom, Dad, son, and me. The son wasn’t as excited about the revised plans as Mom and Dad were, however, because “his” room had gotten considerably smaller.
“I’m sorry”, I told him, “but we’ve got to cut costs somewhere.” Over the next few weeks we tweaked the design several more times, each revision making the son’s “suite” a little smaller.
Eventually the son stopped attending our meetings. “Where’d your son go?” I asked, already suspecting the answer. “He’s moved out,” Mom said, a hint of a twinkle in her eye, “he said he couldn’t live in such a small room, so he’s gone and rented an apartment!”
And now we both have another story to tell.