Monday, October 02, 2006

a perfect day...

...I think. At least that's how I intend it. The weekend was absolutely full and included a trip back in time. This weekend's trip to Wetonka was specifically earmarked for loading up the truck with old furniture from Steve's grandparents' house that needs some refinishing. And so on Sunday morning, we ventured into the decaying rooms of their old house. We weren't the first to visit. Many critters had been there before, leaving destruction in their wake. I'm sure they were not happy we were visiting. But they remained the walls, under the floor.

We toted out what we could repair and use first. An old dresser with a beautiful mirror was the first to emerge. It wouldn't be hard to fix, as it was quite intact. The old steamer trunk we pulled out of the corner will take more work, but would be beautiful with a little tlc. We also recovered three dining chairs, an old wooden tool chest, and a second dresser for Steve's cousin, Sarah. That was supposed to be it for the big pieces, but a trip to the garage revealed and old school bench, and a metal bed. I couldn't help but to think that I wish I could fix all of it - but there were things I just couldn't use, and I had provided us enough projects to last at least a year.

The furniture was amazing, but it was the small things scattered about that most stirred my heart and my imagination. Hanging on a hook in the stairwell was a blue satin strapless prom dress. The waist was tiny, and I wondered which of the Miller girls had danced in it and what their partner looked like. Did he wear a white jacket? Glasses? And did she think him handsome? Did he steal a kiss at the door before he went home? That house was full of girls, and the evidence was everywhere. They had been arts and crafts pros, making pictures for the walls which their mom framed. I saw them lounging under plastic chandeliers of green and gold that hung from the ceiling. Perhaps they read some of the Reader's Digest condensed books in the book case, pages yellow and damp. We found postcards, letters and cards sent with love, property deeds and and old cash register. Pots, pans, and antique kitchen utensils were still scattered on the table, and a cook book copyright 1915 sat on the countertop.

But in the midst of what was left in this old house, we found a family - we took a peek inside their lives. I thought it a shame that everything, so lovingly touched and cared for was now left lying on floors and moldy sofas. Our lives, I think are too busy to treasure the old, to see the beauty in things touched by those who have gone before us. What is old becomes trash, and we buy something new, cluttering our world with more stuff, instead of caring for the old, and taking ownership.

I know the task ahead is a little daunting - cleaning up the furniture, polishing the metal and reconstructing the drawers. But the beauty of it is that the spirit of the stuff remains. When I pull out a drawer in the old dresser, and place linen napkins inside, I will do what Grandma Miller did years ago. And her heart will join with mine for just a moment. She will smile from the other side when her grandson sits on the chair she carefully chose to match the table that exists somewhere else.

Today I will begin the process, and it will be a perfect day. I will clean the wood, and wash out the pots. I will take care to be gentle, and will find time to reflect on a time when these things were used and the people who cared for them before me.

And so time passes, and remnants of life are left behind for others. I wonder what I will leave when I go. Will my grandson's girlfriend say, "Let's restore your mom's dresser," not knowing that it belonged to a woman who lived two generations before me. Should I leave a note inside the top drawer...this belonged to Steve's Grandma Miller, which she left for me to find in 2006. I'm not sure how old it is, but treasure it as I do.

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