Margaret

Apr 9, 2021

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

My wife, Margaret, made me promise never ever to use her in these Lines. Of course, I took that to mean she was hoping I would. She's hard to figure out.

Except for her stubborn streak. A recent newspaper article on her efforts to organize our neighborhood fair admired that stubbornness. Little do they know what it's like to live with such a person. Here's my side of the story.

When my daughter, Gretchen, was in eighth grade, the family went to see A Doll's House, by the Norwegian playwright, Ibsen. Gretchen fell in love with the set, a Norwegian home heavy with wood paneling and a high loft bed and built-in cupboards and asked if we could do her room just like the set. "Of course," Margaret said.

During intermission, things got out of hand. Margaret and Gretchen began planning the room but knowing how late the Christmas cards get out each year, I said, "Gretchen will be long out of high school by the time you're through."

"Bet?" said Margaret. "A hundred dollars," I said. We shook.

As I expected, the years dragged on. Now Gretchen was a sophomore. More and more beautiful birch wood disappeared into Gretchen's room. Given the bet, it would not have been fair of me to lift a finger, but I could hear the sound of hammering and sawing and sanding—sometimes for hours.

Margaret learned to use the radial arm saw and the belt sander. She took courses in wood finishing.

You probably know what's coming next. Three months before graduation, the door opened, and there was the Ibsen set, lacking only the finish on one closet door. Loft bed, desk, cabinets and drawers, all of birch and all built in, and all with perfect joints--the result of several hundred hours of work. Margaret had spent $467.50 for wood and supplies.

I was gracious about handing over the hundred dollars, an expensive lesson for me. I hope you all have a clearer idea just what it's like to be married to a stubborn spouse.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.