This weekend was mostly spent painting my son’s room. I always think of painting a room as not a big deal and then when I actually do it I remember how much work it is. It is a smallish room but painting light over dark requires extra attention and two coats. His room has three windows and a closet which also required painting and so the cutting-in work and taping was labor intensive even before the paint tins were opened.
As I painted, especially when I was using the roller, and watching the tiny white speckles land on the back of my hand I thought about my dad. I have such vivid pictures in my head of him painting. How he would hold the roller, the angle he would position his wrist at and the way he would have his tally ho self-rolled ciggie hanging from the corner of his mouth as he worked.
He actually used to gently flip the ash of his smoke into a pocket in his overalls. I recall the paint clinging to his thinning hair, the feel of his overalls stiff with enamel and his work shoes, worn and splattered with white.
I recall the car rides, feeling hot and nauseous breathing in turpentine fumes and tobacco smoke.
I remember how he could “walk” the ladder. He would literally stand on top of the ladder, a leg on each side and make the ladder “walk” to the place he needed to be to paint the next section.
He held the paint brush a certain way and when he painted he would glide the brush up and down, his wrist leading the way. I was always fascinated by the look of his hand when it held a brush. He had strong and agile hands.
He was a master paperer. It was amazing to watch him paste a long strip of wall paper, fold it upon itself, climb up on a plank and stick it onto a wall, matching the design and smoothing it out flawlessly.
I was thinking today about how tired his body must have been from this work and how on some of those long days alone with his brushes and rollers and thoughts he probably wished he was doing something else, somewhere else.
I also recall the sense of pride he took in his work and how he always did his very best for all his customers. Some of the customers contracted him for years and years because he was the best in the business.
He was the best because he cared. I’m not a painter and decorator but I do take pride in what I do and I do care. I guess I got that from my dad. My dad used to decorate our rooms when we were kids. They were always lovely. Today I felt proud to be able to do this for my son.
April 10, 2016