Final chapter of "Challenges of a Housewife"
My heart was beating like a bongo drum. This was Judgement Day! I didn't know if John knew what I had been up to. I didn't know if he had spoken to his father. The white car had driven in that direction. Had Dad taken the strangers out to the field to meet his son and prove to them that not all of his family were raving lunatics?
John took his time. He filled the tractor with fuel, then stopped into the shed for something. In the house, suffering intolerable suspense, I waited impatiently for the axe to fall, sick to my stomach, my heart hammering out a staccato beat. Whatever was going to happen, let it happen now - and quickly. I can't stop it! I couldn't even pray.
After what seemed like an eternity, John came to the house. The absence of shock on his face when he walked in told me he had come prepared for a major cataclysm. He must have had visitors out in that field. Perhaps the well-dressed strangers had warned him about what to expect. It was doubtful that his father could have been coherent enough to explain what they had witnessed.
Wordlessly ignoring me, John walked around the kitchen, looking at the gaping holes in the wall; the stairs that were now missing the three angling steps; and the empty north wall where the foot of the stairway used to be. He walked through the opening in the wall into what used to be the bedroom and noted the bottom of the stairway waiting for the three angling steps that would connect it to the rest of the stairs. He stood staring at the patched up wall facing the living room, at the doorway that was no more.
I was glad I had had the time to clean up before he got home. The place looked much less daunting this way. Still, I was paralyzed with fear. I waited, my heart pounding wildly for some reaction that would indicate to me whether I should run for my life or just stand there silently, prepared to meet My Maker.
"How do you propose to finish this?" John finally asked. His voice was calm and he actually sounded sincere in his query - like he honestly wanted to know! I couldn't believe my ears. My knees turned to jelly, and my heart leapt in relief and exhilaration. Was he actually going to support me in this project?
"Well, all we have to do now is build a wall to close off this stairway, put a door here to this old bedroom and we have two whole walls for cupboards. We can take this old little cupboard out and put the stove here instead. That will make the room smaller for floor space but there will be a lot more room for everything else. And see, behind this door we still have the stairs to the basement and all we have to do is make those three curving stairs up here and the stairway is as good as new - and out of the way!
I was rambling on excitedly now. God had heard my prayers. My husband was going to let me live. He was listening to me and I was not only going to live, but it appeared as if I was going to have my beautiful new kitchen! My enthusiasm was beyond all bounds.
"I'll go get the plywood and some two-by-fours before Hryhorchuk closes the store." Still calm, John turned and walked out to the truck and drove toward town. I was all a flutter now. Had it really been that easy? Was it really going to happen this quickly? Was I really going to get away this peacefully? My emotions vacillated between relief and disbelief, excitement and fear. "If I am dreaming, please Lord, don't let me wake up" I prayed.
It was now after five and I had to start supper, so I heaved the stove into position, connected the pipes and set out to make supper. If my husband was truly as supportive as he seemed to be, I was going to make him a supper of all suppers! He deserved it!
After supper, there was still enough daylight left to do some work so we set up to make those three angling stairs to the upstairs bedrooms. There was no way we could sleep downstairs in that dusty, and now with the stairway, crowded, old bedroom. We needed those stairs, so we fixed them. Then we hauled up the mattresses and by midnight we were settled in our new bedrooms upstairs. We had worked calmly together, John didn't seem the least bit angry, though he said very little. Still, I was eternally grateful.
The next day, John did not go into the fields. Instead, we built the wall, finished off the doorways, and he even got me some clay to patch those gouges in plaster around that closed off doorway.
When we finished, John informed me, "I'm going to go see if Nick can come and do the cupboards." Nick was his brother-in-law. He was a carpenter.
Within a month, I had beautiful white paint on my brand new kitchen cupboards, along the whole north wall; beautiful new wallpaper on the walls and a kitchen that I was delighted about. John and I even discussed replacing the old wood stove with an electric one someday and adding a refrigerator and perhaps even a freezer! against that brand spanking new east wall - “when we get hydro in year or two”.
Friends and neighbours that came to visit could not congratulate us enough on our renovations and John got most of the complements about it. Few people knew about how those renovations came about. I didn't care. I got what I wanted out of the deal - my fantastic kitchen. Besides, John deserved all that credit for supporting me, even if it was only after his options were eliminated. Even my father-in-law was proud of the house when that kitchen got finished. He had a "modern" house to gloat about now. For years after, my evening ritual was to stand in the doorway and admire my kitchen before I went to bed. Perhaps that kitchen would not have been the answer to every woman's dream, but it certainly was the answer to mine!
Necessity may be the “mother of invention,” but it is “desperation that makes things happen!” Faint hearts do nothing at all!