I should probably warn you that I’m about to share an intimate thing, but then again, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know I don’t shy away from
over sharing the details of my life. Also, this post is over-illustrated with photos because it’s too difficult to tell without them. Brace yourself.
The Stairway to Heaven
This story begins with the amazing climbing rose we planted shortly after we moved into our home. Circa 2005, the pretty little climber towered over our home, much to my everlasting delight.
The name was Stairway to Heaven and as the years passed, it turned into the little climber that could and reached about 15 feet and covered the front of our home. Of course, this made me totally happy because it covered the ugly beams that were de rigueur to all the houses built in this neighborhood in the early 70’s, but that’s not important right now.
It had the added bonus ( in my eyes) that the roses bloomed in bouquets, similar to the one I carried on my wedding day.
I loved everything about that rose.
But as life went on and the years and weather took their toll, we found the wood in our front beams was starting to rot from the inside. The entire structure would have to come down and sadly, so would our Stairway to Heaven.
It had been growing for a dozen years and the base was super thick. It was like chopping down a tree and I was so sad to see it come down.
But life remained in session and we went on to paint the house a bright and happy yellow, and we added brick and kept our roses and planted more climbers along an arch in the front.
And miraculously, the Stairway to Heaven decided it wanted to live. I was so thrilled it came back. Even if it didn’t quite feel like climbing like it used to. But, nevertheless, we put up a trellis and encouraged it to do its thing.
Unbeknownst to me, Eric kept a portion of that original trunk, thinking he’d maybe carve something out of it… one day.
And time flew by, like time does when you’re making other plans.
He “hearts” me.
In between these years, my husband started sending me a simple text (almost daily).
“e ❤️ m”
It became a type of shorthand to let me know he was thinking of me, or he was proud of me, or more plainly that he loved me.
On the days I slept over at Lucy’s while working on a project, he’d send me a reminder before bed.
[Sidebar: Do you love my cute little curly avatar? Thank you. ❤️]
He would write the “e ❤️ m” in the sand on his walks on the beach.
He would slip me a note if I was traveling.
I’d often find a hand drawn “e ❤️ m” at my breakfast table accompanied by some delicious bakery pastry.
When we were painting our office, he painted the “e ❤️ m” on the wall before he finished painting that wall. Shut up. I know.
Always, always bringing a smile to my face.
When I wasn’t feeling well and he was out watering the roses, he’d send me this:
My husband loves me well and has learned my simple love language well: I just want to know that he’s thinking of me.
One of my favorites was the time we were in Austin visiting Lucy when she lived there and Eric “vandalized” a portion of a wall at the Hope Outdoor Gallery with the “e ❤️ m.” This one brought me great pleasure, as you can well imagine. (Full disclosure: We went to the Home Depot and purchased our own spray paint just for this occasion.)
It’s probably long been convered by other intrepid artists by now, but we took tons of photographs and video to document the moment and I had one of the photos enlarged and mounted on a canvas and it now hangs in our living room for all to look at it and wonder about us. It’s seriously a great conversation piece.
Here’s a video of the artist in action:
The Ultimate “e *hearts* m” Project
I had a birthday last month and Eric came up with the Ultimate e *hearts*m gift.
He enlisted the help of a few co-conspirators: His sister, Michelle, and her husband Corey, and our designing daughter, Lucy.
His original intention was to carve the ubiquitous “e ❤️ m” into the piece of the original base of the rose bush (tree?) he had saved all these years. So he asked Corey (bro-in-law who knows all about wood and woodworking) for help.
To which Corey probably replied, “I have a device and that piece of wood is old.” or something like that to indicate he had a better idea on how to make this particular “e ❤️ m” project come together.
Enter the Vectric CNC device. As far as I can tell, it works with a type of CAD softward. Simply, you create a design, upload the specs to the software, which speaks to the router device and you’re off.
Lucy designed this particular “e ❤️ m” with a swirly background.
Corey told his device what he wanted the final thing to look like. And The Amazing Vectric Router Device did it’s thing.
After the piece was done and sanded, my talented sister-in-law, Michelle, painted the e and the heart and the m.
Where does the old rose bush come in, you’re asking?
They attached the new “e ❤️ m” into the stump of the old rose bush by drilling a hole.
Here’s the finished product that absolutely took my breath away.
In short, he took the OG Stairway to Heaven added this brilliant iteration of “e ❤️ m” and the rest is now history. So much care and thought went into the creation of this piece that I was rendered temporarily speechless. (Quite a feat, because Cuban.)
In answer to your next question: Yes. Of course, I cried. This gift was so full of love and thoughtfulness and creativity by all the parties involved.
I’m grateful to my daughter for helping Dad design this latest iteration of the “e ❤️ m.”
I’m profoundly thankful to my dear in-laws for boosting Eric’s creative idea and making this one of a kind Heirloom of The House of Darby happen.
In spite of how super cool this all is, and how fabulous it was that everyone was on board with bringing it together, the best part is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt and have yet another lasting reminder that he *hearts* me.
“e ❤️ m”