Gladys and I recently moved into a new loft in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit. While she had to work on moving day, I decided to surprise her by having a few friends over to help complete a few big projects. Mom helped clean the kitchen and arrange a few things in our bedroom area. My friends Andy and Angela helped put together the Ikea furniture we procured to wall off a bedroom. Todd helped jumpstart our final painting project. In three hours, we accomplished enough to completely wow my bride! Gumpy would have been proud of my feat, especially when you consider the plot he masterminded for Ema's family room.
Before Ema and Gumpy left for Florida the winter after his initial cancer diagnosis, he decided that the family room in the farmhouse needed a makeover. There was the couch that Ema hated but refused to truly part with. Sure, she tried giving it away to various family members over the years but none of us wanted the hideous red beast. It was uncomfortable and odd sized. The table lamps did not really fit the rest of the decor and the rest of the furniture was dated. He recognized that she would never willingly change the look of the room, so he decided to do something about it.
Gumpy could be quite secretive when he wanted to be, and he proved it over the few months they were in the Sunshine State. He laid out a budget for my mom and my aunt to stick with. He had a few specific instructions on colors and furniture that had to go. Since Ema bird-dogged him all winter, getting a chance to speak with him alone was difficult, yet they persevered. He approved of his daughter's work and was ready to see his new family room.
The weekend before Ema and Gumpy flew home, mom and Mary sprang into motion. There was the well-orchestrated trip to Ikea. There was a family in a neighboring town that needed a couch for their growing family that could not afford to buy new, so family friends came to remove the beast. Brice and Eileen stuck around to help prepare the new room. While I was turning on the water and re-heating the house, Gladys was busy cleaning the rest of the house. My Uncle Dave was diligently assembling our purchases. Within a few hours, the room was transformed and the rest of the house was ready for my grandparents.
Mom and Mary drove my grandparents’ home from the airport a few days later. I will let them describe the look on their mother's face when she saw her new room. I can only imagine the look of satisfaction Gumpy had because I think it is similar my look when Gladys saw our furniture assembled. He was thrilled that his daughters had so thoroughly carried out his wishes and achieved glorious results. If you wanted to cheer him up on a tough day, you could just mention how he pulled off his surprise for an instant warm smile.
Gumpy would joke that when he married Ema, they had come to an equitable agreement on how to handle decisions. He would take care of all the big decisions and his Chickadee (one of his favorite names for Ema) would take care of all the small decisions. After over 50 years of marriage, there were still no big decisions. Except one. His decision to make sure his Chickadee was cared for and loved.