With the family out of the house for a few days, Dad decides to work on the honey-do list.
For the first few hours after the family pulled out of the driveway I'm certain Dad relished the rare peace and quiet. With the house to himself, he probably turned up the stereo to a deafening roar and stretched out on the floor in front of it. No one climbed all over him, or initiated a wrestling match. No one chattered over the music. No one argued. No one mocked his favourite music, old country. No one moaned and complained. I imagine he could hear himself think. With a cold beer in hand, Dad wandered the silent hallways. With a critical eye, he noticed the scuffed paint beginning to peel in the bathroom. Grabbing the door he heard the wood protest and the hinges creak. Someday he planned to rehang that door and replace the battered door knob. Yes, now would be the ideal time for a bit of reno work, but he had other expectations for this weekend. Of course, I cannot say for certain when the urge struck him. Perhaps while he reclined in his favourite chair smoking his pipe and reading his latest choice novel. My father never could sit still for long. Oh, he could and did pretend to relax. He did however like projects, or challenges in small doses. He once plumbed a toilet in the basement on the spur of the moment announcing that it had to be done 'cause the dang line-ups dictated it. As a tall man, it didn't matter that he stooped to avail himself of its convenience, or that he'd settled it close to the stairs. My parents never referred to my Mother's house wishes as a honey-do list. They accepted that improvements and repairs were more of a 'round-to-it.' My Mom would and did point out what she thought required fixing and my Dad would mumble a vague promise of 'I'll get 'round to it.' During our absence, Dad must have stared at the rolls of wallpaper Mom had propped in a corner of the kitchen. In their beseeching manner, they rebuked him and spurred him into action. We returned home Sunday evening and stormed the house. Kicking off our shoes and all speaking at once marked the end of Dad's solo weekend. At some point, one by one, we gathered in the kitchen. Mom noticed the new wallpaper first and squealed in delight. Of course, we kids were chided when we touched it. We praised our resident decorator and noted that he'd matched the recurring pattern. His broad grin said it all. The next morning, I joined Mom at the kitchen table. With a nod towards the cheery wallpaper, Mom asked, "Do you notice anything odd about that paper?" I shook my head and replied that all the red flowers were complete and kind of pretty. Mom snorted her coffee. "They're not flowers. They are tomatoes." With that perspective, I saw the wallpaper with fresh eyes. My father had taken great care to mount that paper to the wall. Nary a wrinkle or bubble marred its smooth surface. The pattern repeated in a uniform manner. There just happened to be one flaw. All the tomatoes hung up. Yep, the wallpaper had been installed upside down. Mom and I shared that wee secret for years. Dad never knew. That paper adorned the kitchen wall until Mom could request a change without drawing suspicion. How could she point out his mistake after he'd single-handedly spruced up a room without any nagging? ( 581 words )