Grief, Mom

How Treehouse Pete Narrated the Hardest 4 Days of My Life.

NOTE: This post was migrated on 10/1/21 from my substack after getting all of my blog moved to a secure host. If you are confused about why I wrote on substack for awhile, get your primer about my site being hacked and the ensuing chaos HERE.

P.S. If this showed up in your RSS feed reader can you email me ( and let me know? I’m not sure how moving this stuff over and back-dating it effects things like my RSS feed.

My Mom always loved television. Growing up, her house had the better television, the bigger cable packages with the most channels, and her house had the VCR. A lot of my childhood TV and Movie memories happened at her house, not my Dads, which tells you something since I actually lived with him and just saw her every other weekend. When we would talk on the phone during adulthood, 90% of our conversations revolved around TV. We both watched Survivor and The Amazing Race back in the day and she was also a big fan of the crime procedurals which I was obsessed with for about 15 years.

Recently our tastes have shifted a bit as she watches a lot of Fox News and cooking shows and I’m watching the Twilight movies on repeat. Our compromise around Fox News was that she would change the channel if I was there unless it was one of her favorite shows or if something big was happening live…and then she just accepted that I’d be arguing with the people on the screen the entire time.

After Mom made her decision to quit dialysis, but before she became incapacitated, I just stayed at her house the majority of every day. Those few “good” days Mom spent introducing me to her favorite cooking and home renovation type shows. My favorite was Treehouse Masters. One night Nikki came over with me to bring Mom her dinner and we all curled up on the couch and watched Treehouse Pete build some amazing treehouses across the country while Mom filled us in on some of the backstory of some of the characters and the show.

When my brother arrived it seemed like a show he would like too, so for her last “good” day, we watched a lot of Treehouse Pete. When she finally became unresponsive, we just left it on in the background (she always had to have a TV on, even while she slept) while we sat by her bedside or helped the nurse or gave her medicine. Mom’s apartment was one big room and so the TV and couch were in the same room as her hospital bed. We would talk to Mom, do some cleaning, eat some meals, talk the the nurse…all with Pete in the background. For four days and three nights we held vigil with Mom, the hardest 4 days of my life…and Pete Nelson joyful voice was always on in the background.

I don’t know how we did it, but we somehow found the perfect show to keep on in the background while our Mother died. It was entertaining enough that it would sometimes be a nice distraction, but not so entertaining that it felt disrespectful. We knew she’d want something on, she hated silence, and since we knew she loved the show…it felt like it was the perfect call. Lord knows she didn’t want to spend her last days listening to me argue with Fox News.

I had told Donnie how cool of a show it was and so he ended up watching it at our house periodically during those days and he would text me about an episode or a particular build. It was like he was there with me, in some weird way. It’s on sometimes now in my house (the show has 11 seasons, thank God we didn’t come close to finishing it) and it’s a very weird thing to have on during a regular day. It triggers some negative memories, that’s for sure. Those days were hard and not all of the memories are peaceful. But it also just makes me think of Mom and imagine what comment she would have about the particular house being built.

It’s this weird fixture now in my memories, this guy and his crew making these amazing houses in the trees with these beautiful views while I watched my Mom slowly die. Sometimes I wish for a different world with a healthier Mom and no COVID so that we could have taken her to stay in one of his Treehouses in Gatlinburg.

Instead I’ll just settle for the memories of watching it with her during her final days. And I’ll be grateful that it existed to serve as a strange soundtrack for a hard time in my life.

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