Its glory days were behind it. I don’t know how long it had hung there, in the portal between Mimi’s indoors and outdoors. Was it really the same old screen door from 30 years ago, when her back porch became a deck? That means it was with us for decades of events — birthdays, Mother’s Days, Christmas Eves, Easter Lents!
After the wooden deck was built over the concrete steps, the two by four by the backdoor buckled, and the old screen door stuck on it in certain weather. Like Mimi, over the years the door grew tired and worn. Eventually she would just leave it stuck open on that buckled bump of wood. All the easier for her to cross the threshold to her beloved backyard.
Years passed, her eyes blurred, her hearing faded and Mimi became more unsteady. She was undeterred, but we still aided. Then one day as the old door stood open, Mimi stumbled. Old door’s hinges tore from the wall as it broke her fall. The old screen door hung no more. That was a few years ago. We thought about getting a new door, priced them at a few hardware stores. Some were nice, but not the right size. We forgot about it and went on with life.
Mimi died a few months ago. Visiting her house recently, feeling the void, I said dad why don’t we get a new screen door. So, we measured the frame but were unsure. Then we remembered, over there sat the old screen door. It was tucked away on its side behind an old couch, dusty against a dry rail of the old covered porch. Why don’t we measure it instead, I said. So, we dragged out the old screen door, and it’s a good thing we did! Its measurements weren’t the same as those we took of the frame before. And guess what, they don’t make that size anymore.
The old thing was in pretty good shape, missing its hinges, a little rough around the edges, screen in tatters, but it didn’t matter. So, off we went to the hardware store, only to find they don’t carry “offset hinges” anymore. With hope and a few suggestions, we made our way to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was our lucky day. Leaning against a wall were pieces of an old door frame, intact with the offset hinges they don’t make anymore.
Three dollars later, a few hours labor, and the old screen door hung again.
I wondered why I was so emotional about re-hanging the old screen door. Maybe because it really was a simple, meaningful chore we could have done long before. Maybe it’s because Mimi’s not walking through it anymore. Soon I smiled, as she would want me to. Mimi’s gone, but her beloved backyard lives on, and that would make her so happy, so I am too. Welcome back, old screen door.