When Bri and I got married we didn’t have much in the way of furniture (didn’t have much in the way of anything, actually). Most of the furniture we did have, though, was inherited from her mom. My mother-in-law did a lot to help us out as we began our life together: a nice couch, an old, slightly-used car for a song, but to me, the greatest inheritance from Bri’s mom was our kitchen table.
This table was well-loved when it came to us. During our first move, part of the pedestal broke, and the movers spent an hour or so fixing it. For our second move, the one that brought us to Ypsilanti, something broke on it again, and this time the repair made it impossible for us to remove the leaf extension.
We had our first family dinners around that table. Michaela stubbornly resisted eating a single grain of rice at that table when she was two, to the point she fell asleep with her head on that table. As our son, Carl, battled leukemia he sipped on spoonfuls of water at that table (which gave us more joy than any sipping of water has the right to make someone). Braeleigh found, opened, and spilled paint all over that table. Our kids have been fed at that table, colored pictures at that table, done homework at that table, and even though he has been gone nearly 5 years now we still celebrate Carl’s birthday at that table every year.
At some point in its life, something got left on the table that left a stain that went deep into the grain. It was an ugly mark that made us keep a tablecloth on it most of the time. Every once in a while, we would talk about grabbing a sander and refinishing the table top.
Last summer while Bri, Braeleigh, and I went to pick up Michaela at her grandparent’s house in Bad Axe, Grandma Cathy broke out the sander and went to work. No matter how much she sanded, however, that dark, ugly, stain would not come out. So I told her to paint the table top white instead. I had a plan.
When we got home I went to work. I broke out some bright colored paints and set to work soaking all of our hands in it. And we covered that white tabletop with our hand prints. We even printed a copy of one of Carl’s
finger paintings he had made the week before he died, cut out his handprint, and stuck it in with ours. I really liked that table before. I LOVE that table now.
As I write this we still have a few things to finish up. Bri is going to paint our family motto on it, a reminder of what really matters: “Stupid, ordinary, everyday, family stuff.” And then we will seal it and finally sit down to have another family dinner at our family table.
Freinds, newer is not always better. Our old kitchen tables are full of memories, jam-packed with our history, they’re where we gather to remember just how full our lives really are. Full of faith. Full of hope. Full of love.