Love is a Workbench

Reprinted courtesy of the Weston/Wayland Town Crier  May 13, 1993

When my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary many years ago, he mentioned our planned celebration to some of his students. “How do you stay happily married to someone that long?” they asked. We thought their question a sad commentary on modern society. Alfred’s response was a discourse on the meaning of commitment in marriage and, while my husband’s remarks were absolutely on target, I recently discovered a new definition of marital bliss, Love is a workbench..

My discovery began when my husband announced that he was going out of town for a few days to attend a business conference,. Such news always sends me into orbit planning a host of household improvements I can make while I have long, uninterrupted hours at my disposal.

Since retirement, my “when the cat is away” adventures have usually involved painting, wallpapering or super human efforts at landscaping or gardening – all of which are designed to enhance the appearance of our home. This time, I planned a project for the sole benefit and pleasure of my husband. I would hire our neighborhood contractor to build my husband a work bench in our garage.

For years, you see, my husband had complained that he has no place to do house and yard repair work and no place to keep his tools in order. I decided that the end of the garage offered  12 feet of promise – once I had cleaned out the garage, made several trips to the town dump and swept away years of dirt and dust.

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It took the contractor less than a day to build the work bench and me three days to clean the garage and neatly hang tools on the new peg board, organize all the nails and screws, clean up paint and various cans and put the new bench in working order. When all was done, the garage was so clean I could have served dinner out there. A bouquet of tulips and a homemade welcome home card were the finishing touches.

When my husband returned home, he received his new workbench and tool area with the delight of a little boy given his first bicycle – now he had new worlds to conquer – and new tools to buy!

To some young people all this might seem like “much ado about nothing.” It wasn’t a big gift. I didn’t buy him an expensive new camera or a new computer. But those are not gifts of the heart purchased with a “broken back”, a slivered hand and a torn fingernail. To those young students who wondered how one stays married to someone so long, my response is simple. The answer lies in discovering the romance of a workbench.