Is it possible to love something inanimate? Like a table? Let me explain. There is this show I was obsessed with a while back, it was called “Parenthood.” (This will have a bit of a spoiler). Each episode begins with the whole family around a big table in the back yard. Grandparents, parents, kids, grandkids. A big noisy happy family eating, drinking, laughing under twinkling cafe lights strung cheerfully over the table. Bob Dylan twangs “Forever Young,” and for four whole seasons they sit around that table while life happens to them. Then. Season five. The grandparents move into a condo and cannot take the table with them. The table is moved into the oldest son’s yard – a very clear metaphor for “passing the torch,” but for me, it just wasn’t the same. I sobbed. That table scene killed me.
When Scott and I first got married…decades before I sat down to watch Parenthood, we bought a table. Without even having seen Parenthood, before the show was even a concept, I wanted that. The big noisy family around a crowded table. Even down to the Bob Dylan.
The table we bought was exactly like the Finch Family Farmhouse Table I grew up with. Over the years chairs broke one by one, but that Costco farmhouse table we bought was a sturdy little workhorse. In fact, it has lived with us in all of our houses. In our first little townhouse, then the garden house in Sand Lake, then it moved with us to Ketchikan and spent the next 24 years in our house on Sixth Avenue, the house we raised our girls in.
We bought a new house a couple of years ago, sort of a “Dream House” for Scott and I. The girls were gone, married and off in the distance, to see the world and we found a great beach house for our “empty nest years.” The house was fully furnished with high end couches, chairs, ottomans and a table. This was good stuff. We looked at our ratty furniture and paid the extra to have new furniture included in the price. We sold or gave away everything. Everything but the table. I couldn’t do it.
You see, that table. Oh I loved that table. I could just lay my cheek on the smooth surface and feel all the meals eaten around it. I could almost hear the love and laughter that happened at it. A weleful feeling, not dependent on tangible things, instead on memories of Babies taking first bites. Grandparents singing. Girls giggling at breakfast after a sleepover. Hours of homework done at that table. Arts. Crafts. Quilts. All happened there. Our friends, toasting and talking until late into the night.
And there are people who sat with us around that table who are no longer with us. My mom, Scott’s dad, my sister, grandparents. Friends. And you would think that would make me sad, but in fact it does the opposite. It prompts memories, so many happy memories. The fantastic smile and twinkling blue eyes of a friend, Bonnie and her boys, spooning baby food into messy little mouths. My mom working on a gingerbread house with the girls. Thor at the head of the table with his great guffaw of a laugh, beard bristling. Grandfather Hunt singing a civil war song he remembered his father singing. Someone having run to the cornershop for snacks and treats…. and well, beer.
I wasn’t ready to give up the table. Like I said, I love this table! It lives downstairs now, and it makes absolutely the BEST quilting table. And get this. This Thanksgiving, when the kids were all here, we hauled that heavy little farmhouse table up and put it right up snug against our new table to fit everyone. It looked so battered and scarred when you looked side by side at them. Was that green paint on one corner? But it made me so happy to have all of us around it once again. The whole family around a big table in my living room. Grandparents, parents, kids, grandkids. A big noisy happy family eating, drinking, laughing. A little Bob Dylan in the background, and while there are not cafe lights strung above it, candles glow and a cozy fire warms us as we live and laugh around that farmhouse table.
(Can I say that one of the prompt words was ‘weleful.’ I had to look it up!)