Mike’s target-shooting competitions started again in April, which prompted him to have our ophthalmologist order special-focal-length eye-glasses, tinted yellow, specifically for target-shooting. He told me as I drove us home from our annual spring eye exams. It unnerved me.
"You did? How much?"
"Around three hundred."
I stiffened. "How did you plan to pay for them?" I struggled to hold back my urge to reprimand him for not discussing it with me first—like we’d agreed to and had always done since we were married.
"I don’t know … you pay the bills."
What was he thinking? I glanced over at him, saw the smug look on his face, and returned my focus to the traffic around us. Anger surged into my psyche, recalling the smirk he exhibited after stealing a drill bit from the hardware store when we first returned from California. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly before speaking. "I wish you’d talked it over with me before you ordered them."
"I couldn’t. I didn’t think about getting them until half-way through the exam."
"You could have told the doctor that you’d call later and let them know."
"Well, it’s too late now, isn’t it?" He grinned. "Like you always tell me, ‘we’ll make it somehow.’"
Dear God, grant me strength enough to hold my temper. My ire grew, but I held my wrath, knowing Mike’s ability to prevail in any discussion or argument. If I’d learned nothing else living with his sudden flare-ups for these past fifteen years following the accident, I’d learned to pick my battles. This didn’t need to be one.
The days wore on. The glasses came and I paid for them out of our savings account, which held most of the paychecks from my last year at the Porsche+Audi dealership.
Mike stayed busy with road construction jobs, often working late as the daylight lengthened. I spent hours in the basement screen printing and marketing my small wall hangings. I also registered as a business with the State of Washington and posted the license visibly unobstructed as directed—in the basement.
I signed-up for a post office box one day, then finalized my wholesale flyer and price sheet. My plan was to mail out copies to my list of twenty Scandinavian gift shops in July, to reach potential buyers ahead of the August wholesale gift shows. Next I set up a bookkeeping system using columnar pads, and considered myself ready to receive orders.
On Mother’s Day we drove to my family home in Edmonds to give my mother a set of matching vases for their fireplace mantel—one of several pairs I would give her over the years. Always the thoughtful hostess, she coaxed us to stay for coffee, and we accepted.
I washed my hands and headed for the china closet in the dining room, where Mom kept her precious bone china collection. "Which cups do you want to use?"
"Wait! Don’t open that door," she yelled and came running.
"What?" I stopped my hand mid-way between me and the latch.
"Look inside," she said. " … on the edge of the shelf behind the latch. My glass horse."
There, hind legs on the shelf and head against the frame of the glass door, teetered the fragile, hand-fashioned glass horse Mom had treasured for years.
"How did it get stuck there?" I turned to her.
"Well, a few weeks ago when I opened the cabinet to put some cups and saucers away, the suction pulled the horse forward off the shelf. Luckily, I closed the door quickly enough to keep it from falling out. I haven't dared open the door since."
"What’s all the fuss about?" Mike joined us from the living room where he’d been reading the newspaper.
I pointed to the poor little horse. "Look, there."
"Hmmm." He considered it with an inspector’s eye, then turned to my mother and asked, "Alice, could you get me a piece of sewing thread? And a stick of some kind, maybe a knitting needle?"
"I’ll be right back!" Mom hurried down the hall to her sewing room, returned in minutes, and handed the items to Mike.
Carefully he tied a hangman’s knot at one end of the thread, then tied the other end to the knitting needle. Opening the door barely enough to let the knitting needle fit through, he cautiously circled the horse’s muzzle with the loop of the hangman’s knot and, gently pulling, gradually closed it just below the horse’s forehead and behind its cheek.
Mom and I exchanged glances quickly, but uttered no sound as Mike gingerly lifted the delicate animal from its precarious perch, keeping the thread taut. When he opened the door and lifted the horse out, we cheered and applauded.
"Oh, Mike. Thank you." Mom smiled at him. Genuinely. When he had placed the delicate animal safely on the dining room table, she reached up and gave him a hug. "You don’t know how worried I’ve been over that little horse. Thank you so much!"
"You’re welcome. No problem."
She actually hugged him! Thank you, God. Could she finally see some value in him after all these years? But, why—because of his rescuing the horse? Or because he was now her only son-in-law? I chose to leave that for God alone to know.
My father, who’d been working outside in back of the house when we arrived, joined us for coffee and conversation. It was a pleasant afternoon, and one I would recognize in the future as a turning-point in my mother’s acceptance and appreciation of my husband.