Thomas Rose, a stay-at-home dad, is in the garage of his three bedroom home. Or, as he calls it, the panic room. In the panic room Thomas sits at a trestle desk, stitching the torn finger seem of his son Charles’ winter glove. Charles had snagged the glove on a chain link fence which Thomas installed in the yard the previous spring. Thomas had spent half the spring season installing that fence. A time expenditure that exceeded expectations by over a month. Through all the errors he committed with this endeavor however, which included digging an illegal trench along the longest side of his home, or more accurately property which he did not own, Thomas was immersed in his project, and refused to “accept defeat,” he said, to inanimate objects. As the spring progressed so did his fencing skills, and to his credit, the claim he held from the project’s start eventually proved true that he could indeed install a fence.
Thomas’s wife June had begged her husband several times to give it up and to call a contractor but she’d known it would be no use. It was one of Thomas’s things to not give up on what, relatively speaking was, his underwhelming pipe dreams. In their fifteen years of marriage June saw these dreams of Thomas’s manifest by his sheer obstinance. Whether it was the backyard patio which Thomas constructed, himself, unassisted and at his assistance, and which defied building codes and had required three summers to finish but which upon completion had looked, actually, not that bad. Or the winter Thomas decided to take up baking. An endeavor he succeeded enough with for the habit to continue to this day. Albeit sparingly, Thomas bakes a wonderful watermelon pie, among his other speciality, his far more frequent buttermilk biscuits. There was also the time Thomas decided to popcorn all the ceilings, which he succeeded in doing. And there’s also the memory most vivid to June of Thomas and his endeavors, their daughter April’s ninth Halloween. April’s costume that year was a fairy. Thomas had made this costume himself and it was good. In fact it was better than store-bought. An image always retrievable to June is herself opening the panic room door on Halloween morning, to see Thomas hunched over his trestle desk gluing plastic gems on a glittered gold star wand. Thomas had made no mentioning of his plans to do this, and it came as true surprise to June, Charles and April that he did, considering Thomas’s typical projects. If baking might seem to some effeminate, Thomas will quickly retort to them that food is for everyone. And, if needed, that “all the best chefs are men,” for good measure. April’s ninth Halloween was the first and only Halloween to feature a Thomas Rose original. He built a shed in the backyard come that December. Despite the snow that made this nearly impossible. And he talked about it everyday. About how tough it was to lay concrete in frozen dirt and falling snow.
In their neighborhood, and perhaps most elsewhere during this time Thomas’s role as a stay-at-home dad was an anomaly. Of all her friends June was the only woman married to a husband who stayed at home while she’d go off to work. While none of their friends looked down on the two, necessarily, for their reversing traditional roles, it was something which came to define them in others’ eyes. The Waltons, their closest friends, who lived three homes away on the same cul-de-sac of East Burnham Road, had nicknamed Thomas and June fondly, the Riveters.