Two hours ago I was blissfully sanding woodwork in the living room at the Einsel House. Upstairs in our son Neil's future bedroom lay the sleeping bag I slept in last night; beside it a stack of old issues of home improvement magazines, above it a freshly painted ceiling and surrounding it freshly painted walls. Outside the wind was picking up, quickly drifting shut the long driveway. I took a break to glance out the window one more time, and my heart pattered contentedly at the thought of being snowed in alone at the Einsel House for a second night. All being right with the world, I turned my attention back to the door frame I was sanding.
Did I hear something?
I turned off the orbital sander, and by the time I looked up she was already standing in the room smiling at me. My defenses went on immediate alert. Winter storm warning and Level 2 snow emergency be damned - she said she wanted Neil to be able to see his newly painted room. So we went upstairs. And as I hoped, Neil was clearly thrilled with his new yellow walls.
Back down in the kitchen, she asked Neil if he wanted to stay and help work on the stone house. Predictably, he didn't. He just wanted to go back home. She looked at me and said, "Well, one of us will have to go back." Ah - there it was, the ulterior motive. "I brought everything I'd need to stay," she said with another smile. But I wasn't giving in that easily. I opened my mouth to reply but before I could say a word she played her trump card.
"He's been missing you a lot today, you know."
I glanced out the window at my son who was struggling with a snow shovel in the drifts and wind, and I knew the battle was over.
So here I sit, wearing warm flannel pajamas, with the dust washed out of my hair, a well stocked kitchen available when dinner time beckons, and a real bed to sleep in when the sun goes down. And yet, but for the hugs from my kids, I would trade places with my mother in a heartbeat if I could.