Graduation was less than a semester away and senior-class activities were filling the nights on my calendar. My schedule was raising havoc in our peaceful home, and I knew I was walking a fine line, but I was in clubs that had lots of end-of-school business.
One evening I sensed my dad’s irritation with my rushing through dinner then coming home late. He touched my shoulder and turned me around. With each word he spoke, his voice grew louder and sharper. “Where are you going tonight? I’ve almost forgotten what you look like. You’ve been out so much.”
“I have Camera Club tonight.”
“Tomorrow night you stay home, you hear?”
“Enjoy tonight - cause you’re through for a while.”
It was true. I felt like I’d been on the run. I thought to myself (I’ll stay home tomorrow night and work on my Home Economics project). It was due at the end of the week, and it was far from being finished. I started this project as a surprise Mother’s Day present, and it had proven to be more difficult than I imagined.
It was her favorite, an ornamental needlework known as embroidery: a three-piece set for the arms and back of her new sofa. The arm pieces were finished, but the back was only half done. It was of birds and flowers much like an aviary with extensive stitches around the bird cages.
The next morning in algebra class, our instructor announced some changes for the next two days. He had some outside work to be done and we would have a study period.
“May I bring my Home Economics project to work on?”
“Sure, as long as it is quiet.”
Wow! What a break, I thought. But I remembered the look on my dad’s face. I’d work slow at home tonight and with these two class periods, I would get it finished.
The next morning in class, I got out my sofa-back piece, and began working on it. The boy sitting next to me who was a really good friend and the Church of Christ’s preachers’ son wanted to see the coverlet. I handed it to him.
“Can I try my hand at this for a minute?”
He made amazing progress on it. The next day in class was the same. I finished a few stitches that night at home so I could wash and press it and make it look professional.
I was pleased as punch the next day when I presented it to my Home Economics instructor one day early. She inspected it for an eternity and read the work guidelines we had to fill out over the weeks it took to finish our projects. I suddenly realized lots of students watched Charles Bender work on my coverlet. Never did I give it a thought that I would be in trouble. She equaled the tension I got from my dad the night he told me I had to stay home for a spell.
“This is a nice piece of work. Your stitches on the coverlet improved immensely from the stitches on the arm pieces.”
“Thank you.” I whispered. As I gazed around the room, I could not tell if the Home Economics students knew. None of this group took Algebra, but I decided word might travel. I knew I had to tell her the truth. I stayed late after class.
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