THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis
So, I decided to paint our hallway last weekend. It was time to say goodbye to the lemon yellow walls and having bought what I needed, I got to work “cutting in”. I found it quite therapeutic, seeing the lurid colour disappear under the purity of white satin sheen. I hoped my husband could help when he got back from work but when he arrived, he was in a lot of pain and aching. I sympathised and then proudly showed him my handiwork in the hall. He smiled, then said “Hang on, it’s the birthday party tomorrow...I thought you didn’t want painting done then?”
He was referring back to when our eldest was 6 and had a craft party at home. In his wisdom, he decided to paint the downstairs loo on the day. So while I was manically blowing up balloons, he was decorating the room that I wanted to use to wash their hands. Of course, it was still wet when they arrived and I had to use a washing up bowl to clean them up and they had to use the upstairs loo, leading to mischief in the bedrooms. He couldn’t understand why I was so angry.
When I woke Saturday, he was still in pain and sleepy. I decided that I could do this alone, so went to the shop and got the materials I needed, including a 5 litre pot of pure brilliant whiteness. When I got back, I parked the car on the space in front of the house. We live on a busy road and so the traffic was backed up. As I got out, my neighbour pulled into her drive and I smiled as I opened the boot and SMACK! The paint had somehow fallen out and exploded on the concrete, sending paint everywhere, including my clothes and trainers. I did what I am training myself to do in these circumstances. I laughed. I had an audience of car drivers, no doubt amused by this spectacle - what else could I do?
I opened the front door, calling to my children to help me. I don’t know what I expected them to do, but seeing them run to help was comforting. Seeing my dog running to help was less of a comfort as we all shrieked and grabbed her. I couldn’t walk into the house as I didn’t want to get paint on the carpet and I couldn’t lift the paint, without more of it running out. My husband came to the rescue, struggling downstairs and putting the paint into a tray. I disappeared upstairs sobbing, feeling foolish while my husband used buckets of water to wash the paint away. My neighbour turned up with a bunch of asparagus, which my husband accepted on my behalf - she just wanted to give me something. Her kindness really touched me.
An hour later, when I was painting the walls with 3 daughters at my side armed with rollers, I reflected on the situation. I didn’t blame anybody like I usually do...it was just an accident. I didn’t get angry...I laughed (maybe manically, but it’s a start.) I didn’t allow it to ruin the day...I got on with it instead of dwelling on it. I discovered just how lovely my neighbours are…and I saw my husband use his last ounce of strength to help wash away my mistake.
I didn’t get to finish the painting but I discovered that there are more important things in life than finishing a job; finding out who comes running when you cry for help, for a start...