RaisingDad: I Retired For This?

Yeah, I thought so


My wife and I were cleaning our oakwood floors downstairs.

Wood floors need a good, old fashioned cleaning and waxing several times a year to keep it rich looking, and all that cleaning and waxing takes an awful lot of elbow grease. With the grease usually coming from MY elbow. The whole affair takes too long to do all at once, so we break it up into sections. 

Which reminds me of the following joke:

What did the broom say to the vacuum cleaner?

 “I’m tired of people pushing us around.”

 But I digress...

By we, I’m not including my father. He was sitting in his (my) favorite chair. I couldn't see him from where I was, but I knew he was there because I could hear his usual noises.

“Mmm... smack, smack, smack! Ahh, click, click, click! Ohh, weee! Smack! Ahhh!”

I'm almost positive he doesn't know he's making them. They just erupt out of him like the various other eruptions that emanate from various other parts of his body. 

“Ahhh – smack, smack, smack –what are you all doing?" he asked, getting up. Not to help, but to be nosy.

We were both using a cleaner and micro towels. My father could see exactly what we were doing. He was just making conversation.

I thought to myself, “What are we doing? What does it look like we're doing? Praying in church? If we were, I’d be asleep”

“We're cleaning the floors, pop," I told him. I'm not nice when I'm in the middle of hard work – my beautiful wife will attest to that – so I tried to sound civil. Civil, but without the invitation for a long conversation.

My wife, saint that she is, got up from her knees and took a little more time to explain it to him. 

“We're cleaning the floors, dad," she told him. "Right now, we're using a wood cleaner, because your son is going to have to wax it. We have to clean it in sections, because it's too much work to do all at once. The floor will look better when we're done. You'll see."

That was a lot of wordage just to tell him the same thing I did. I think she just wanted to take a break. 

“Yeah, I thought so," my father said to us.

You know, when we were buying the house, wooden floors seemed like a good idea. They're beautiful to look at, but who the heck knew they were so much work? We had an option to buy fake wooden floors that looked just as good as the real thing, but I thought that would be taking the cheap way out. I didn't realize that, because of those wooden floors, I'd be spending some of my retirement working harder than I ever did when I was employed.

Later – much later – after we did an excellent job of cleaning the floor, I was adding a wax finish to it. 

My father walked by on his way to doing nothing.

“Still working on it, huh?” he observed. He stood close, but not close enough for me to put him to work. He was inspecting – not admiring – the great job I was doing. That's right. I'm patting myself on the back. Somebody has to.

“Yes," I said. "Now I'm waxing it." 

Smack, smack, smack!

“Yeah, I thought so," he said.


He lifted his nose and sniffed around.

“What's that smell?" he asked.

“What smell?" I asked him back.

“THAT smell," he said, waving his arms like an excitable muppet indicating the air.

“I don't smell anything."

“You don't smell it?"

“Smell what?"

“That smell."

“What smell?”

“THAT smell.”

“You mean the wax?" 


“Yeah, the wax I'm waxing the floors with."

“Of course I mean the wax. Don’t you smell it?"

“Pop," I said, hating to break the news to him, "it's odorless. It doesn't smell."

“Well, I can smell it."

I was pretty sure what he smelled was another of his frequent eruptions. He’s like a wrinkled Old Faithful.

“Son," he told me, "that stuff stinks. I'm surprised you can't smell it. Something must be wrong with your sniffer."

My sniffer? 

Finally, I finished. My father went off to his room, and I went upstairs to get cleaned up and claim my reward. My wife isn’t always a saint.

The next morning, my father came into the kitchen. I was sitting at the kitchen island, enjoying a nice, hot cup of gourmet coffee—my only indulgence—appreciating the fine job we did. My wife, with a smile on her face, was making breakfast. We were both tired from all the physical exertion from the day before. The cleaning and waxing was pretty tiring, too.

My father looked at the floors.

“They look the same to me," he commented, then sat down and waited to be served.

Yeah... I thought so.


Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it DOES buy tacos! theduchenebrothers@gmail.com