It’s time for our yearly homage to mothers on Sunday, and I would be very remiss if I did not sing the praises of the lovely woman in my life.
But let’s start this conversation with something that recently happened. Since my father’s death last year, I have stepped up and become the family “handywoman”, fixing things for her at the house every time I go to see her. Last August, I bought their van, which they took on dozens of trips all over the country since 2009, because she could not afford to keep both vehicles. I promised her that she could borrow it when she needed it. Well, she needed it for a trip to Myrtle Beach. Without me. I know what you’re thinking: That’s so wrong. She told me that this year’s trip was a best friends trip, not a goofy daughter trip.
So I told her to make her “honey do” list, and I would take care of it while she was gone. The list included painting the rest of Dad’s shop in the backyard,which we had started late last spring. Then she mentioned that Dad had planned on refinishing a pair of rockers and a footstool that they had bought on a trip to Pennsylvania around 1997. Despite the fact that I’ve never done anything like this before in my life, I added “rockers” to the list.
Being my father’s daughter, I thought about what Dad would do. So I crawled into Mother’s car (trust me when I say to go from driving a van to a Chevy Sonic is not a pleasant experience. It’s like squeezing into a sardine can, not that I’m a tall person. Just not as roomy as my van!) and headed for Dad’s favorite place…Lowe’s! They very patiently answered my questions and helped me gather the things I needed to work on the rockers.
I was rather excited to begin work on this project, so I grabbed my iPod and headed for the shop. I began to gently sand the first rocker, and was amazed at how great it looked once the gray weathered layer was gone. And despite what they had told me at Lowe’s (that I would have to use fine sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots), the wood was very smooth to the touch.
I began sending pictures to Mother and her friend, Ann, of the progress. A second trip to Lowe’s was required because I realized that the varnish I had chosen was too light colored (I ended up going to Lowe’s four times).
Under the threat of rain, I stopped working on the rockers and began work on the outside of the shop. For two days, I primed and painted the right and back sides of the building. Alas, the hardest part was the back side, because the ground was uneven, and the ladder made me feel like one of those weeble wobble figures we played with as kids. Yes, for those that know me, I did almost fall off the ladder once. (Yes, I ended up with a lot of bruises, all on my right side, most of them on my leg, with one belated one the day before I left on my right arm.) My son James came over one night and helped me hang the sign, horseshoe and lights on the front of the shop.
I finished the rockers and footstool after Mother came home, and she was very pleased with the results.
So much so that she sent home an old school desk home with me to also sand and varnish, and a small birdhouse that needs its roof sanded and repainted.
The downside of all this is that I came home in some serious pain, and ended up going to the doctor two days after I got home. I now have lovely pain pills and one Valium a day to help manage the pain, and orders not to do anything stupid for two weeks. My friends all laugh at this last one, because the odds that I will do something stupid are very, very high.
I was talking to my friend, Christina Freeburn, about all this, and I told her about the various muscles I had pulled (stomach, chest, ribs and back). She said, “Ouch!” I replied, “Yeah, but it was worth it. Mom LOVED the way the rockers and the footstool turned out.” She laughed and said, “You crack me up! Only you would end up on pain pills for doing all that work and say it was worth it. Your mom has to be an awesome for you to feel that way. And you’re an incredible daughter.”
Which brings us to the point of all this. If we stop and think about all the things our mothers have done for us over the years as a bill, the total would be something that none of us would ever be able to repay. But most, if not all of us, would bend over backwards (or stretch awkwardly on a ladder to reach that one spot that is taller than you and the ladder combined) to make our mothers happy.
I have a wonderful mother. She met my dad at a youth director’s conference at a camp outside Oklahoma City (that was located down a road called Methodist Road; my dad was a Methodist minister). At the end of the conference, my dad followed her home to Monett, Missouri. Three months later, they were married. She became an instant mom four months after they got married to a wild seven-year-old redhead and a shy six-year-old blonde. Sure, it was a lot of trial and error, but she did a wonderful job. She has always been there when we’ve needed her, sharing her wisdom and showering us with love. There is nothing that I would not do for this wonderful, lovely woman. She is Mom, and my very best friend.
For all she has given to me over the years, a few pulled muscles are well worth it to see the smile on her face. I love you, Mom. Thank you for everything.
Love, the wild redhead