Friday, June 1, 2018

Restoring a memory

June 1, 2018

And so it goes. Today is the last day of my annual spring vacation and I'm feeling ambivalent. I've crossed a lot of home and garden items off my list - pro. I didn't take much time for myself - con. Today, Saturday and Sunday remain but I'm not hopeful I'll actually take time to be lazy. 

This particular vacation I've been working on refinishing my maternal grandmother's set of Eastlake platform rockers. I know I'm talking about the project quite a bit but the memories of hours spent sitting in one of those rockers talking with my grandmother (my Mam) are alive and vibrant within me. Some of those memories define who I am at my core. 

My grandfather built the house he and my grandmother lived in. He and his cadre of brother-in-laws did all the work. The stone foundation, the framing, the brick exterior, the kitchen cabinets. That's the way it was done back then. The kitchen had two almost ceiling to floor west-facing windows. Pop built extra-wide window sills for flower pots. Apparently, after Mam brought home the rockers, the sills were only used for setting one's coffee cup on. I remember those sills as having a lot of coffee rings on them. 

The rockers arrived long before I did as the picture of my mother holding a newborn me attests. Mam found them at a sale or auction and brought them home in the trunk of her car. She made new cushions for them - once. Now, over sixty years on, they need a lot of tender loving care. So that's my current project. I'm refinishing the chairs and they will have a place of honor in my sunroom office. It seems fitting they sit in the same room as my grandmother's favorite lamp and my great-grandfather's desk. 

I'm excited to have the project underway, but I'm almost equally annoyed at the condition of the chairs. Oh, I get it. To my grandparents, they were simply chairs. The spot in Mam's sunny kitchen where all the problems of the world were solved with a cup of coffee and quiet conversation. Little did my grandparents realize the legacy those old chairs would help create. 

It's difficult to predict where the chairs will one day end up. I look at those in the next generation and think that because the chairs are not in pristine condition those girls won't want them. Nor do they have the memories of lazy Sunday afternoons shared. My grandmother - their great-grandmother. There is the disconnect of generations in that. 

But perhaps by the time I leave this world one of them will have cause to need a rocking chair in a sunny spot to ponder their memories. I can only hope their's will be as rich as mine. 


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