A Fresh Start, Part 3

ChecklistNate and I continued to play with furniture placement in the family room while I researched televisions. We moved the sofa along the long wall that had once housed the green faux-antique armoire. I liked it there, flanked with the end tables made from reclaimed barn wood, but where could we place the TV?

I had assumed that the TV would hang on the wall where the armoire had been. Balancing it on a low-slung piece of furniture didn’t seem like a good option with a rowdy dog and cat in the house, not to mention an autistic kid who still sometimes resorted to throwing things when frustrated.

No, Nate insisted. It belongs on the fireplace. The gray stone will help it blend in.

I said it couldn’t be done. He said people did it every day.

“Well, I can’t.”

“No, but I can.”

“You can?”

“Of course.”

My ex-husband used to claim he could do stuff that really, when all was said and done, he could not do. Or at least could not do reasonably well. Or at all. But Nate is teaching me, again and again, that he is different.

“Prove it,” I said.

He smiled and set to work.

I’d purchased a 50-inch full HD, smart TV that was waiting in the living room, still in its box. With the gauntlet thrown down, I figured I’d let Nate try his fireplace install. If it failed, we could always resort to Plan B. Because how could he possibly find a joist on a wall of fake stone?

“You underestimate me,” Nate said.

Apparently I did. But not for the reasons I thought.

Things didn’t go as planned. Nate never found a joist, probably because there aren’t any to find beneath the faux stone veneer. So he quietly developed a new plan, one that didn’t involve blaming me or yelling. (Another pleasant change from my ex.) It took several days, some plywood, and a lot of really long screws, but in the end, the TV was hung on the fireplace. He even painted the plywood to match the stone, which I thought was a nice touch.

Nate didn’t say I told you so. Despite that, I did the grown-up thing and told him he was right. It was possible to hang a TV on a fake stone fireplace.

Nate smiled and helped me pick new shades for my grandmother’s vintage Stiffel lamps. We had to go to five stores, but he never whined or complained. When we finally found ones that worked, they were more than I wanted to spend. So Nate bought them (“a gift” he said), and now whenever I see those elegant lamps flanking the sofa, I smile because I know wherever my grandmother is, she’s happy to see them in use, living a second life.

Once my sofa was in place, it was easy to figure out where Nate’s chairs and the settee belonged. We have space for a large memory foam “lounger” for Katie. Max has a bed hidden in the corner behind the settee. Delta has a basket of chew toys. Nate and I are debating what to hang over the sofa and we still need to hook up the television and stereo, but already the room feels comfortable.

For the first time in a long time, it feels like home.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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