Painting Papaw's porch

I have managed to grow up with very few regrets. I regret that I didn't finish college. I regret how long I stayed in a couple of bad relationships. But, there's one regret that comes from way before any of those.

I was a kid, just a year or so out of high school. My paternal grandmother had recently passed away and my grandfather was occupying himself around the old house. I was way too young to realize then that he was just biding time until his turn and he was getting things ready for when that time came. And, I was too young to know how soon that time would come. My Mom knew, tho.

I remember the old porch. It seemed the perfect size. It was wide and screened all around. Vines grew up one side, but up a trellis, never up the screen. It ran the length of the front of the house and on one end, there was an iron porch swing with iron slats that ran end to end. Heavy! Oh, but so pleasant to sit in and swing back and forth and listen to the chains creak overhead. I spent many hours in that swing reading. Then, between the swing and the front door of the house, there was a chair and on the other side of the door, there was a glider with red leather (or naugahyde) cushions and white piping. There was an Adirondack chair that my Uncle Billy made in high school. Just inside the porch screen door, there was a removable shelf that hung on the post and on that shelf there were always a few knicknacks and a big skeleton door key. I have the shelf at my house now and use it to hold our tributes to pets that have passed away.

I can remember that when it would rain and dirt would spatter through the screen and onto the porch and railings, my grandparents would go out there and dust and clean, like it was inside the house. Now, I can barely keep my bedroom dusted and they took time to keep a porch clean enough to eat on.

In the time between my Grandmother's passing and my Grandfather's, he did a lot of projects around the house to make it more sellable. One of those was to paint the front porch. My Mom, knowing how important that time was, pushed me to go help and she pushed and I think she even volunteered me to go, until I had to show up.

Papaw was a contractor. One of the old school contractors that did things right and did them to last. And, that meant sanding. Lots and lots of sanding. Sanding and sanding and sanding and using every bit of rough off every bit of sandpaper as if sandpaper was printed on the back of $5 bills. The one day I went, I sanded until I thought my arm would fall off. And, I asked over and over again for a new piece of sandpaper and had to show the one I was using to show whether it was used up or not. And, over and over again, I was sent back to "Use that paper up."

My cousin Randy was there and I can remember him talking amiably to my Grandfather behind me while I sanded and sanded and grumbled in my mind about how hard this was. And, about how boring it was. I stuck it out all day. But, just that one day. After that, I found excuses to keep me other places so I didn't have to go back.

Within 6 months, Papaw was gone and I had missed that opportunity forever. And, even today, I am jealous of Randy and that last bit of time he got to spend with Papaw.

Now you know the kinds of things I regret. Rarely something I did. Usually something I didn't do.

Take care and have a great Way Back Wednesday! Lane


Cynthia L. said...

Life is full of regrets, isn't it? I can imagine that would be one that would bring lots of sorrow to you. Your story reminds us to do things with those we love as if it is their last day. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth said...

That's the way regrets go, it seems -- opportunities lost, things we didn't do for one reason or another seem to stick with us the most. I'm sure your Pawpaw was proud of you and glad to have that one day with you anyway.

xo -El

quiltmom said...

Your right about regretting the things you didn't do - Sometimes we let our fears or our insecurities prevent us from changing and other times we think that something will be there forever. I think one has to reach a certain age or maturing to learn those life lessons.
Great post Lane.