It’s just a table, and currently it is sitting in my dining room flanked by chairs that belonged once upon a time to my husband’s grandparents. This table, this object however is more than just a table, it is part of history, made in days gone by in a style that is no longer made or seen, it is an heirloom, it’s my history…it is suddenly my reality.
My grandparents purchased this table in the late 1920s probably not thinking that 80+ years later one of their granddaughters would have possession of it pondering the meaning behind its presence in her life. My grandparents are 2 people who I never met and whose pictures I might have seen once or twice..not enough to feel a connection to them and yet it is their purchase, their possession that enthralls me and challenges me at the moment. The table resided in the the kitchens of the homes my aunt Helen owned and most recently belonged to my cousin, her daughter and now it sits in my dining room..covered in stuff I might add and it makes me cringe to see it with the junk from my life on it because my aunt always kept the table clean.
You can almost smell the Sunday dinners served at this table, feel the warmth of the many cups of tea poured..hear the conversations that took place while drinking, eating and just gathering. The kitchen in my aunt Helen’s home was the heart of the family and for someone like me without much family to cling to, this table being here..this portal to my past has stirred up thoughts and emotions I either forgot existed or simply kept hidden away.
In reality, it is just a table…but in my reality it is not. This is where I admit, the past has caught me off guard and as a result I had somewhat of a break down/episode/or some other word I can not construe at this very moment. The day after it is was delivered, my loving husband set it up in my dining room for me to enjoy. What i was not expecting was the gut wrenching emotion that ensued. Tears are not something that come easily to me, yet here I was sitting at my table with tears pouring down my cheeks, stinging my eyes, their saltiness burning my dry/chapped lips but over what? I was trying to figure out why I was suddenly flooded with emotions over an inanimate object and here is what I realized…
This table is more than just an object..I have so many memories of my life around this table. I was fed at this table when I was baby when it resided at the Vesey Rd house in Randolph, seated in the metal high chair with a gold quilted fabric seat that would be the bane of my existence until I was about 12 years old (tell you about that a little later), I shared meals with my family at this table, ate really amazing food to be honest…and I wonder is that where my love of cooking transpired? Was it sitting at this table watching, learning by osmosis that I developed a patience to cook and create, a desire to feed my own family I created? This table is where I sat on rainy days and colored in books filled with blank pages of clowns, of Scooby Doo etc..I learned to do connect the dots, and to stay inside the lines. I sat at this table and learned to play games such as monopoly and checkers..but more importantly I learned the nuances of winning and losing and my rather spoiled cousin John always changed the rules in his favor to get the advantage (winners go first after 11:00…losers go first after 11:15) he rarely beat me at anything strategic. This table is where I often sat on a chair and had my knees bandaged, my temperature taken ..my boo boos kissed by a loving aunt. I sat at this table and had wonderful heart to heart talks with my aunt who was more a mother and as I got to be older a friendship began developing (cut short when she passed away when I was 20) The kitchen and the table is where auntie confined the relatives when they came by to visit, but it also hosted those who stopped in just to say hello. The table always seemed to have room for one more and that is where we get back to that high chair..the metal one with the tray removed and the gold quilted seat. You see when we needed room for one more..they either got one of the chairs that went with the table or a chair from the dining room..as for me I was the tiny one and I had to sit in the high chair until about 12 years old. I hated having to sit in the high chair, I was already the baby (well until Meg came along) oh the indignity! Most days the high chair housed Auntie’s purse but when company came over..that was my throne.
So here in my home is this piece of furniture with history and memories attached that run deep. Still why the tears? Why the sense of overwhelming emotion that I simply can not put words to? It dawned on me..this is the first thing in my home that is mine. Yes there are many things I call mine in my home but none are like this. This is the first thing, the first memory, the first piece of me that represents who I am ..who I was before I became his Mrs., before I became their mother..this is me, my past, my present and even my future. Crazy that something that we take for granted while growing up that will just be there..that just exists can have such an impact on us later in life. I cherish my turn with this table..I cherish the memories and the feelings it is bringing to life..I cherish having my “mom” here with me again. This year marks 30 years since my mother died and 27 since aunt Helen passed and I am officially around the same age they were when they passed ..this table is building a bridge long thought blown up one memory brick at time.