'A SON'S GIFT'
Here is another short story by Vera Rothwell. You may recall that Vera posted one of her other short stories on this blog some time back. This one is similar, in that it has a cracker finish. By the way, this is factual.
I have been a widow for almost eighteen months now. It has been a hard time, a time of learning, of making adjustments, of trying to cope, and most of all trying to come back to life.
For most of the first year I didn’t live, I just existed. The hardest thing I did each day was get out of bed, and the thing that I most looked forward to each day was going back to bed. I ate because I had to, not because I had any interest in food. I made the bed because it was what I always had done. I couldn’t settle to doing anything, accomplished nothing, and didn’t care. It was enough to just get through each day.
As the summer approached I slowly started doing things. I set myself a goal of achieving just one thing a day that I could feel good about. Sometimes I achieved my goal, sometimes I didn’t. So much needed doing around my house that I felt overwhelmed. One thing at a time, I reminded myself. I painted the bannisters on the stairs, where the paint had worn off and annoyed me for months. While I had the can of paint open I touched up other areas that needed it – the kickboards in the kitchen, the chips in the wall. I felt good about this.
On my top deck I had a plastic outside table and chairs. During a storm the table blew over, the legs came off and I found one leg in the pool, half another leg beside the house – it was no use, it could not be repaired. So I was on the lookout for another table. As I had very little money to spare I looked at the markets, the op shops and garage sales. One day my next door neighbours on both sides told me there was a glass topped table left out on the footpath not far from home. I raced around to have a look. The legs were rusty and worn, but the top was in great condition. I loaded it into my station wagon and took it home.
Getting it up the stairs proved to be impossible. Nothing daunted I enlisted the help of my neighbour and we took it to pieces. I carried the pieces upstairs and then took off for Bunnings. New paint, rubber feet for the legs – I was ready to roll. I laid the pieces out on a tarpaulin and got to work with the sandpaper, followed by the rust converter, then the undercoat and finally two coats of enamel paint. I then put the table back together by myself and voila! – a very nice table that was in no danger of blowing away.
Encouraged by this I expanded my outlook. I borrowed a pressure water blaster and cleaned my wooden pool deck; two lots of wooden stairs, the wooden pool pump cover, the top deck, the bottom deck, the back of the house, the front of the house, the tiles out front. Oh yes, I could do this! I even splashed out and went and bought my own water blaster. Then it was up to the top of the carport roof blasting away all the mould and muck up there. I caused quite a sensation with the cars going by, with lots of encouragement shouted out the windows.
I painted the letter box. I painted my white concrete planter pots. I even painted my concrete ducks.
But there are still things that a woman just can’t do by herself. My neighbours are fantastic, but I need to be as independent as I can. I was feeling something missing in my life, and after all, neighbours can only do so much.
My son asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. When I told him he blanched. This was definitely something that son’s do not want to think about their mother’s doing. He thought I was joking but no, I was serious.
After much hesitation he decided if that was what I wanted, well then he would overcome his prejudices and get me what I so needed.
On Mother’s Day, there it was in a box. I was thrilled. However, one problem. Some assembly was required. I didn’t think that I could ask my son to help me with it as he not very mechanically minded. Once again I asked my long suffering neighbour. He was a bit taken aback to say the least, but took my precious box and promised to see what he could do.
Finally this weekend I got to play with my new toy. On Saturday I used it so much that it fell apart again. My neighbour didn’t think there was anything more he could do to help so I did what everyone does when all else fails – I read the instructions. Step by step I followed the drawings – some of them took a bit of working out I can tell you. I made sure that I had the correct lubricant for it and gave it a go – no, same problem. Back to the instruction book – surely something so basic couldn’t be so complicated?
Finally I plugged it in and let it rev! Watching it spin round successfully absolutely thrilled me. I can do this!!
I needed an extension cord so I loaded it up and pulled the cord out, making sure that it didn’t get caught on anything. I didn’t want to spoil my fun again. Holding my breath I pressed the button and away it went! Yes! Yes! Yes!
I really love my new chainsaw.
Clancy's comment: Well done, Vera. Great start, good middle and superb finish.