There was a tap on Kelly’s partially opened door. She looked up to see the twins standing there.
Hmmm…. How long since they were so polite? Usually they just barged right in.
“Hey, Kel,” said Doug.
He looked a bit…sheepish…humble? Nah….
Kelly glanced at Brent, then back at the dark haired twin.
“Um, hey, sorry about laughing at the powder thing,” said Doug.
“It’s all right,” said Kelly, then added with a twinkle, “so….what do you want?”
They launched into their problem. “And….” finished Doug, “we wondered if you could play it for us on the piano when we sing it for Mom?”
She shook her head, her pony tail swinging. “You know I can’t play anything without practicing—a lot.”
“Just try,” said Brent. “You can do it.”
She sighed. He always had confidence in everybody. Red haired, with blue eyes just like Mom, he was also like her in spirit—the ENCOURAGER, always believing the best about people….
“All right, all right. But I’m not promising anything.”
“Okay! Great,” exclaimed Doug.
They went down to the basement, and Kelly played a couple of practice pieces just so Mom wouldn’t suspect.
The twins joined their sister on the piano bench. Kelly took the piece of scrap paper Doug handed her and tried to decipher the notes on the crooked music staff he’d drawn. He handed her a couple more sheets. “Here’s the rest.”
She rolled her eyes at him and he said, “we’ll recopy before tomorrow. Just try it.”
Kelly found the song easier than she expected. She played it through with one hand a couple of times, then added the left hand notes. Not bad.
The boys sang it through softly. “It’ll work! Thanks, Kel!”
“What do we have here?” asked a deep voice behind them. “Nice song . I’ve never heard it before.”
All three jumped violently. Doug nearly fell off the piano bench.
“Hmmm, none of you react like that unless you’re doing something you’re not supposed to—” he grinned. “or you’re pulling another surprise.”
The boys launched into their story again. “But Kel’s going to help us so it’ll be all right.”
“It sounds great. You’re right, the music store’s closed now and I doubt that Wal-Mart has guitar strings, although I could call and ask.”
But Dad was not successful. “It sounds nice with the piano anyway. I like it.”
The twins sighed in relief. Their present for Mom would work out after all.
It had taken Matt all evening to finally think of a gift for his mother. Oh, why hadn’t he gotten a head start on things, like his sister always did? He wanted it to be perfect—he always wanted things to be perfect.
He ran his hands through his curly dark hair, something he always did when he was frustrated. This time it would definitely be less than perfect—in fact he couldn’t think of a thing.
Until his mother went into the little alcove that served as a coat closet/junk room and lamented, “lunchbags and backpacks all over the place. Why can’t we ever keep it neat in here? One of these day I’ll clean it out….”
She headed upstairs to put the little girls to bed and Matt looked thoughtfully into the little room. A jumble of winter boots—and hats—and scarfs. Jackets that were too small for them. Even some canned goods. Mom was a great housekeeper, but she never had time to give this little room any attention.
That gave Matt an idea. Shelves—that’s what was needed. And old brackets were already on the wall from decades ago.
Matt went out to the garage. Excitedly, he found everything he needed. He quickly got Dad’s permission to use the things. He lugged in a couple of boards, Dad’s tool chest, and he even found some old plastic drawers—the cases they had been in were broken and thrown out long ago.
He closed the door of the narrow little room and got to work.
He replaced the shelves, thinking they should have been painted a nice color- but it was way too late to bother with that. He placed canned goods and trash bags on them neatly.
The lower shelf, that the little girls could reach, held the plastic drawers in which he sorted winter hats, gloves, and scarfs. The boots went neatly underneath.
He got out a trash bag and threw in old shoes and jackets that didn’t fit anymore. Mom might want to keep Brent’s old red one. That might do for one of the girls, but the others were ripped and stained. He snuck upstairs to get more hangers, and hung the rest. Brooms and mops went neatly in the corner. He wished he had time for more, but pretty soon they’d be coming to tell him to get to bed….He mustn’t let Mom see.
Kelly and the twins were already in bed when they suddenly heard a crash downstairs. They jumped up and ran out of their rooms just as Dad was saying, “no, dear, you stay there. I’ll check it out. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
He winked at the kids and whispered, “It’s Matt. Why don’t you go down and help.”
They found Matt in a mess. The old brackets had torn right out of the wall with the weight of the new shelves, bringing everything down with them.
“We thought it was a burglar!” Doug grinned at his predicament.
“We did not,” Kelly reassured their big brother.
Dad found some better brackets and left them to it. They screwed them into new holes, and the shelves set sturdily on them. In no time things were neat again.
“I wish I could have done more,” Matt sighed, as he put the bag of old clothes in the garage. “It needs paint, and another shelf on the other side, and some hooks for the backpacks, and….”
“You’re never satisfied. It’s fine. It looks nice,” said Kelly, as they stood gazing at their handiwork. She handed him a big bow and a sign she’d lettered which read, “Do Not Enter.”
Matt taped them on the door, with a ribbon that ran across the door knob in case Mom was really tempted.
“I guess you’re right. Thanks guys.”
Kelly awoke to hear her mother talking. “It’s so quiet. Are those kids still sleeping? I thought they might be up getting breakfast like last year.”
“It’s early-and they were up very late.”
“And why did you let them stay up so late?” Kelly could hear the amusement in her voice. Mom knew perfectly well that it had to do with Mother’s Day surprises.
“You just never mind. Go back to sleep. I’ll get breakfast.”
“We’ll help!” came two shrill little voices.
Oh, brother, thought Kelly from her bed. Poor Dad.
“Pancakes!” shouted Dani.
“In the shape of elephants!” this from Tracy.
“Okay, pancakes it is. We have plenty of time before we head out to Sunday School.”
Kelly caught a glimpse of him picking up both girls and they squealed “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!”
He turned and galloped down the stairs with them.
Kelly turned over, and went back to sleep
Breakfast was perfect—well, the elephants were rather crooked, and the only way you could really tell they were elephants were the long trunks. But the yellow roses from Dad in the middle of the table were beautiful.
Mom received another rose at church—this one red—along with all the other mothers.
After Sunday lunch, they hurried back home so the kids could present their gifts.
Mom loved the card from the girls and her figurine. “And I could tell yesterday that you’d vacuumed. Thank you, honey. And I must say, it smelled awfully nice in the living room.”
Then they went downstairs and gathered around the piano.
“Don’t cry, dear,” said Dad. “they’ll think you don’t like it.”
But everybody knew perfectly well that Mom loved the song. Kelly was relieved that she played it without any mistakes.
“Oh, Matt, it’s wonderful,” Mom said, after tearing the ribbon off and opening the door of the coat room. “And it means even more to know all you went through to do these things for me.”
“And we all ended up working together,” said Brent, who liked it better that way.
“Well, it all worked out,” said Matt, with a sigh of relief.
“Except,” said Doug.
Kelly had a hunch she knew what he was thinking and she said it before he could, “Father’s Day is coming!”
By Carol Bennett