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Her Happy Place

A husband keeps a promise to his wife by building her a special space to call her own.

Written by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem


Connie and Mark Haygood were in the middle of building their Guntown house in 2016 when Connie asked her husband for a she-shed. He said no. But he also told her he would build her one for her 60th birthday.


In 2019, as that birthday neared, Mark asked his wife of 42 years what she wanted as she celebrated 60 years of life.


“He was banking on me forgetting about my she-shed,” Connie said.


But she hadn’t. She reminded Mark of her wish and his promise to build her a space of her own in the future. She also reminded him the future had arrived.


Rather than attempting to back out of a promise, Mark began thinking about how his wife’s she-shed was going to happen.


“I told her we needed to figure out what she wanted and then try to draw it out on paper,” he said. “Then I told her I would probably ask her a thousand questions, but the only thing I had ever built before was a doghouse and because it was up against a building, I only had to build three sides.”


The Haygoods talked it out, looked at some photos and Mark drew a plan, also a first for him. He made a list of materials he’d need, visited Lowe’s and had it all delivered.



“Then I thought a lot about how I was going to get this thing going,” he said. “I also asked Connie if she was sure she didn’t want a nice piece of jewelry or something for her August birthday. It was the hottest September and October we’d had.”


But Connie wanted her she-shed, and Mark wanted Connie to be happy.


Mark had once purchased an architectural ruler and had kept it for years. It finally was put to use. He also needed a nail gun and a few more tools. He thought having to make those purchases might weaken his wife’s wish, but she told Mark to go buy whatever he needed.


“I knew what I wanted and had put a lot of thought into it at that point,” she said. “I knew if he could figure out how to build it in his mind, it would be done right. He is meticulous.”


Connie wanted a saltbox roofline and shaker shingles, but mostly she wanted her she-shed to be a place of peace where she could go and retreat.


Her husband started work on the she-shed in September 2019, and two and a half months later, Connie received her completed birthday present.


A Happy Place


The 120-square-foot she-shed has no TV, but Connie listens to music and sings in her special place. She reads, writes and has Bible study.


“I sometimes stay in here for hours,” said Connie, who recently retired after 28 ½ years as a fundraiser for LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. “It brings out your inner little girl — I never had a playhouse as a little girl.”


Mark has been invited to the she-shed but he rarely goes.


“I see little things I could have done better,” he said. “And it drives me crazy.”


A beautiful, two-paneled door Connie found for $20 is now a one-piece entrance to the she-shed. There’s no window unit, but a rolling air conditioner and heater towers keep the temperature comfortable. Connie wanted a chandelier, so she took the one from their home’s dining room for the she-shed and ordered a new light for the house.


The interior walls of the she-shed are shiplap; the ceiling is beadboard. Small windows Mark ordered let in natural light.


Special heart-connected touches are scattered about the she-shed. Connie’s mom, who died when she was 9, worked for South Central Bell. An old-fashioned, turquoise rotary telephone sits on a desk as a reminder of her mom, Edna.


An antique mirror, complete with desilvering marks, hangs on one wall. Connie’s daughter found it for a quarter. Also hanging on a wall are Mark’s original blueprints of the she-shed.

“We wrote Bible verses on the studs,” Connie said. “And we nailed on one of the studs two letters we wrote each other when we were dating but not together because I was in graduate school.”


In retrospect, Mark admits the project was fun, and he is happy she has her peaceful retreat.

“Now, I’m not going to start a she-shed building business,” he said, laughing. “But if one of my kids begged me to help with a building project, I’d probably help.”


The Haygoods are the parents of a grown son and daughter and grandparents to three.

“I’m glad I was able to do it,” he said. “I felt like I knew I could once I started and applied myself. It was a challenge, something new every day. At first, I couldn’t figure out how to cut angles, but I called the guy who built our house, and he brought me a template. Once I figured it out, it was fun.


“I’m proud of what I was able to do for her. She kinda said what she wanted, and I kinda tried to do it.”

 


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