Painting the Porch

I’ve mentioned that my mom is just about one cat away from being the crazy lady on the block. I’m trying to at least disguise this fact from the neighborhood by working on her porch.

Paint peeling, railing falling down, you’d think the person who lived in the house didn’t care at all about appearances except there are hand embroidered pillows on the porch swing and the cushions on the swing and the chairs are made by her hands.

I told her it was my therapy to work on something, which isn’t a lie. Standing there chipping years old paint, filling bare spots with wood filler, smoothing white primer then Jubilee Gray paint over the porch rails, all while standing in the spring sunshine with the breeze in my hair – these are all good things for me. They clear my mind and let my mind do it’s work without having to try to think through the events of the last month.

Several years back, I started a three year stint of making some really bad decisions. Through it all, it was my dad who I could admit to that I was being a bit of a fuck up. Being a bit of a fuck up himself, he could understand how I felt and he was good about not making hypocritical judgements on my actions. He just lit me another cigarette as we drove down the highway. He answered my phone calls when I was scared, he eventually flew across country to help me pack a UHaul and drive the cat and I back to home.

After that experience, I started going to church again. Each time I would kneel at the communion rail during the Eucharist, I had one prayer:

“Let me be clean, Lord.”

Each time, I prayed my simple prayer. Each time I willed my heart to become clean and recovered from all the ugliness I had witnessed or caused.

The last Sunday of the year, I kneeled at that rail again, and as I prepared to make my simple prayer request again, a new prayer filled my heart:

“I am clean, Lord. Thank you.”

And I found that I was.

So now I stand in front of these porch rails, letting my heart do its work to understand and to heal from losing my dad. As I make these rails clean and new, I find my old prayer is back:

“Let me be clean, Lord.”

This hurt is so different from any I’ve had to work through. I’ve never done this before. I sure can’t do it alone.

And yes, I may show up at your house someday to paint your porch