Uppermost House: So many little things

PeterLewisTreehouseCMYKBy S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

It was a day of little things.

I rushed home from work and yanked my car into the driveway only to find the place dark and vacant. As middle-aged men often are, I was befuddled for a few seconds, and then I remembered that my wife was visiting our son’s family and wouldn’t be home until later.

So, I went in the house and petted the cats and fed the cats and scooped out the litter box of the cats and filled the water dish of the cats (cats are very high maintenance); and then I cleaned out the ash from the pellet stove and refilled the hopper with fresh wood pellets; and then I did some stuff around the house so my dear wife wouldn’t have to: I cleaned off the kitchen counters and discovered what the source of the odd smell in the fridge was (bad cauliflower), and so dealt with that; and then I switched the laundry and took the dry laundry into the kitchen and folded it on the freshly-wiped granite counter while being encouraged by a John Piper sermon online; and then I took the clothes upstairs and put them away in their respective drawers (except for the unmatched socks, which I just chucked in the corner, with disdain).

After this, I became very manly and brave and found my Phillips screwdriver and the bag of replacement parts from China and fixed the dishwasher, ending up with one small injection-molded widget leftover, which I dutifully put in a Ziploc bag and stashed in a drawer, along with a little explanatory note so I wouldn’t be utterly perplexed in 2017.

And so the early evening babbled along — a brook of little things that just have to be done so we don’t become weird people, the things that make up Everyday to which many of us apply monikers of scorn because the things aren’t really much fun but of which I have grown to love because most of these little things make someone else’s life easier (and besides, you never want to make cats mad at you by ignoring their basic needs).

When my wife came home, all smiles from playing with our baby granddaughter, she set out to bake snickerdoodles while I hovered around her a little too close (“Hey, you’re in my runway!”); but she didn’t really mind because at least with me standing within earshot she could get all her words out.

After the snickerdoodles, my wife took her college textbooks into the den and sat cross-legged on the floor and settled in to study pancreatic bile ducts. I just wanted to be with her, so I put the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding on low in the background and sat on the couch next to her. As I was sitting there, I noticed my wife’s long black hair and got an idea and ran into the bathroom (“What are you doing?”) and then back out into the den, carrying a brush (“Oh, that’s sweet”). Then, I settled in on the couch right behind my wife with my knees on either side of her shoulders and brushed her hair for a really long time while she studied, pulling snarls out and making her hair feel silky-smooth, like pulled taffy.

Just at the point where Ian is about to ask Toula to marry him in the movie, I leaned forward and put my mouth next to my wife’s ear and said, “I’ve loved the back of your head since 1979, you know.” And she just smiled, even though I couldn’t see it because she was facing away from me, but I knew it anyway.

I got sleepy shortly after that and so went to bed because it had been a very long day. My wife said she still had some more bile duct work to do, and would come up later. I crawled under the covers and put my little cloth sleep mask on so I could leave the lights on so my wife wouldn’t wang her shin into something in the dark.

After an hour or so, I heard the little pull-cord over our bed click the light off and felt her side of the bed sink down a little, and then my wife and I clinked together into the center like two marbles let loose in the bottom of a mixing bowl. I nestled my head into her shoulder and wrapped my arm over her and felt her breathing slow, and I fell back to sleep thanking God for so many little things.

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