Just when I think I know my husband, he surprises me with something new. I am not even sure how, but Randy still has an uncanny ability to “gently” pull the rug out from under me.
Most people might think that after almost 20 years of marriage, I should be past the “surprise stage.”
Let me back up, though.
During the early years of our marriage, our children took much of our time, which I think is how it should be. If we weren’t attending a sporting event, we were helping our children with one project or another, checking homework, volunteering or enjoying the company of friends who were staying for dinner or overnight.
At the time, I didn’t want to admit it, but our daughter and two sons kept us busy. In fact, there was little time for Randy and me to talk about ourselves.
Then, in the blink of an eye, our children had grown into young adults and moved away, leaving only Randy, me and our two cats, Oreo and Mocha, at home.
No more frantic phone calls asking me to bring a permission slip, homework assignment or gym bag to school.
It was hard to watch each child leave, but while I was wandering around the house feeling down in the dumps, Randy was changing from father to hobbyist.
Looking back, maybe Randy was concerned about being overwhelmed with us having too much togetherness time, or maybe he was finally able to do those things he had always wanted to do.
Whatever his reasons, I knew he wasn’t going to sit around watching me struggle through the “empty nest” years.
The first clue was when he thought it would be a great idea to buy the basement house next door.
For those who have played Monopoly, I often joked that buying the house next door was like acquiring Baltic and Mediterranean avenues (the purple properties).
With the ink barely dry on the loan papers, Randy started renovating. Night after night, he would get off work around 5 p.m., eat dinner and by 6 p.m., would head across the yard to enjoy his new labor of love.
Over the next year, the routine rarely wavered. Every night I could hear him sawing, pounding and hammering, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.
While he was working on the little rental house, I was enjoying the quiet time at home, visiting friends or covering an evening assignment for the newspaper.
Randy eventually finished remodeling and found someone to rent the house. For the next few months, he was on the computer looking at landscaping ideas for both houses, incorporating native grasses and plants specifically for our region.
We did talk about his ideas, and he would show me pictures of trees and ground cover.
Even though I knew what he was up to, I couldn’t appreciate the magnitude of his research.
Within days after our conversation, the mailman was delivering four to five varieties of grass seed, bamboo plants, Chinese Elm trees, ferns, elephant ears… and the boxes kept coming.
It took from three to five years, depending on the variety, for the plants and grasses to fully mature.
I have to admit that in just over five years, Randy completely renovated both houses, the landscaping and much more.
When we happily decided to make Hillsboro our permanent home, I knew Randy was looking at new ways to broaden his horizons. After we bought our house, I almost could see the synapses firing in his brain.
One of his more ambitious projects was our driveway. Not knowing much about brick versus concrete, I thought it sounded kind of neat—until we both realized it was going to take 1,800 bricks to complete a driveway.
The projects are continuing, as Randy moves from one room to another, but my biggest concern is the kitchen remodel.
Even though I am not involved in the day-to-day work, other than handing him a hammer or something, I have learned patience.
It also has helped us get over the “empty nest syndrome” and move on with our own lives.
The good news is that Randy won’t run out of projects in the near future, but the downside is he wants to make sure that doesn’t happen.
He recently bought some used vehicles that I think he wants to transform from “pumpkins” into, well I’m not sure what, but that’s for another time.
Sometimes when we think we know our spouses, they can surprise us. But in my case, it’s all for the good.