Part V: Daddy oils the door
I wake up to the squeak-squeak sounds of the back door swinging open, then closing. It prompts me to shoot from my bed, slip on my house shoes, and chase after the sound. It’s Daddy. He’s squirting WD-40 on the hinges of our door. He’s standing there, eyes fixed on each hinge, leaning into the sound as he moves the door back and forth. I shake my head. Daddy always has some sort of little project going on. He looks the door over, gives the hinges one more good spritz, then wipes the slippery trickle away from the panel.
He spots me watching him work. I smile and wave “Good morning” to him before finding my spot in the bay window to do some reading. Mama will be up before long and I have another request for breakfast; strawberry waffles and scrambled eggs. Yummy! I can almost taste every morsel as I daydream about it. Daddy looks over in my direction and greets me.
“Hey there, Sweetpea. What you know good?”
Daddy is a simple man with many dreams. I love when he calls me Sweetpea. I like sweets. I like peas too. He smiles a full smile and circles our kitchen sink before washing his hands. I answer his question after the water stops.
“Oh, nothing. Just waking up. I heard the door in my room. How old is this place, Daddy?”
He sits with the question for a minute or two — almost like he’s nursing the answer before sharing it with me. I watch him stumble over a way of explaining something like this to me — his eleven-year-old daughter. He opens his mouth, then closes it again, then he nods in my direction before speaking.
“Twelve years. The realtor said the family before us found a bigger place in Richmond Hill, Georgia. They wanted to sell as soon as they could and since I got the new position with H.R., this was the perfect find. I’m sure we’ll discover a couple of spots in this house that need some tender love and care as we make a life here in it.”
I can hear Mama’s house shoes skip-shuffle-skip down the hallway. She’s not a “morning person” like me and Daddy. Daddy races to put the coffee pot on. He sets up our plates and puts away the clean dishes in the dishwasher. They have an agreement; they’ve always had this agreement since before I was born. Mama cooks, Daddy makes the coffee and washes the dishes, or runs the dishwasher. Mama also does the laundry, fixes my hair, irons my clothes, and any other task Daddy doesn’t usually do. Daddy also keeps up the lawn, washes their car and truck, and gasses up the vehicles too. They manage okay, I think.
Mama’s voice is a soft yet stern one. She doesn’t use much of her voice when speaking. It’s as if she saves it for something else — something bigger. She gets on to Daddy about the squeaky door.
“Paulie, was that you I heard messing with the door this morning, or was I dreaming? I’m almost certain I wasn’t dreaming.”
“You’d be right, my love. It was me. The hinges of the back door had been squeaking, so I put a little WD on them. Worked like a charm.”
Mama smiles lightly, but there’s a hint of wonder within her smile too — like she’s waiting for Daddy to say something else, something that will stir up concern. She looks at me and blows me a kiss. I catch it and blow one back to her.
“Hey, baby. What’s for breakfast?”
Ooh! I’ve been waiting for her to ask me what I want for breakfast and I am so happy to respond. “I’d like strawberry waffles and some scrambled eggs, please!”
Mama prepares everything and signals me over to help her cook. I crack the eggs into a bowl, add a little salt, pepper, and parsley, and whisk them quickly with a fork just like she taught me. I take the shredded cheese out of the fridge and add 1/3 cup to the eggs. Mama watches me as I whisk them up once again. I place the bowl near her on the counter and wait.
Daddy checks the back door once more. He is what Mama says, “incredibly thorough.” I don’t hear the squeak-squeak anymore. “The door is saved!” I shout this to no one in particular and to all of us, I guess. Mama giggles. Daddy laughs with his whole belly. And I . . . Well, I find my spot again in the bay window and wait for breakfast.