As we stood in Sarah’s kitchen drinking wine and munching potato chips, someone complimented her on the look of her kitchen cabinets. “We repainted them ourselves,” she told us. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”
After she detailed the laborious process, (removing the doors, removing the hardware, degreasing, sanding, lots of dust, lots of waiting for things to dry . . .) I made a mental note: never repaint the cabinets.
I don’t know if I ever told Michael this. If I did, he forgot. Because while I was gone this summer, he did just that: he took our oak cabinets–all twenty-nine of them!–and painted them. But not before removing them, removing the hardware, choosing new hardware, ordering it, degreasing the cabinets, priming them . . .
Oh–and did I mention he began this whole process just a few days after having surgery on his foot? Because he’s crazy. Or because he loves me. I’m not sure which. Maybe both.
I will say this: if you don’t want the headache or investment of redoing an entire kitchen, repainting the cabinets gives the place an updated look, which I loved. I also loved that I had nothing to do with it.
“And you even got new hardware! And I didn’t have to pick it out!” I said to Michael when he surprised me with his accomplishment upon my return home last Thursday.
“Yeah, I had two types that I ordered,” Michael explained. “And when I asked (our friend) Caroline which I should use, she said, ‘I don’t care–but just pick one. Don’t ask her.’” Ahhh. To have friends that know you so well. Who know that you hate shopping. Of any kind.
Caroline, I might add, is the person I called when, a week post-surgery, Michael told me he had a blood clot. I was standing on the stairs of the Pilgrim Office in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, calling to chat with Michael after lunch, just minutes before I was due back in my seat to greet the pilgrims waiting outside the door. “You have a DVT?!” I said. “Michael! That’s not good!” His attempts to reassure me did little to stop my tears. I don’t remember much from my training as a physical therapist, but I do remember this: blood clots post surgery are not good. If a patient got one, that was the end of physical therapy for a while.
So after I hung up with Michael, I texted Caroline. She’s an opthamologist but 1) she’s the first medical person I thought of and 2) she knows a lot about all things medical and 3) she’s my friend and 4) she lived close enough to go see Michael and get the full story.
“She kind of just told me she was coming,” Michael told me later. “Well, yes,” I said. “Because she knows you. If she asked to come over, you would have said no.” And she knows me. I wanted someone’s eyeballs on my husband. It was bad enough I’d left him for a month to go galavanting around Europe while he had surgery on his foot. To my credit, insurance dictated Michael’s surgery date. I had already committed to volunteer work in Europe, and Michael had no hesitation about me going. “I’ve lived alone most of my adult life, hon. I’ll be fine.”
And so it was that Caroline went to visit Michael and saw him in the midst of the surprise project. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” she asked–apparently she and her roommate embarked on the cabinet-repainting process earlier this year. Over dinner, she gave Michael some tips, texted me her assessment (he’d be fine), and kept his secret.
I would like to make clear that I don’t expect such things of Michael every time I go away. Or any time I go away, for that matter. But he sees my absences as opportunities. Some of you may recall the TV/bidet mix-up some years ago. And remember when, two years ago, I left him for seven weeks? In that time he built a Murphy bed.
And a Little Free Library.
But all that got overshadowed when, just a few hours after showing me his woodworking projects, he dropped to one knee and proposed. (With a ring he designed himself. Another shopping experience I got to avoid!)
So this time, I warned him: Don’t do anything to compromise your healing.
“That blood clot really screwed up my timeline,” Michael told me later as I grilled him about how on earth he accomplished his feat. “Then, it was so hot and humid and I was working in the garage . . .” I stood in the dining room listening to him, and glanced at the plant on the table, still alive (hooray!) but notably dotted with white paint. “Uh. . . what happened here?”
“Yeah. About that. I took off all the leaves that had lots of paint on them–”
“How did the paint get there?” I asked, looking around our dining room for other inconsistencies.
“Well, it was so hot in the garage, and you were coming back in two days, so I decided to move the painting into the dining room. I covered this whole area in plastic, and pushed the table back, but after I did some painting, I was in my office and heard a crash . . .” He pointed to the robin’s egg blue tablecloth. “This is going to have to get pitched,” he said. “Don’t look at the other side.”
There’s one small dot of paint on our dining room floor. And a swipe on a curtain. But for me, every time I see them I’ll smile. Or laugh. Maybe roll my eyes. And give thanks. That I have a husband who is not deterred by a little surgery. Or heat. Or a blood clot. Who might be crazy. But who certainly loves me.