A major chunk of our time was spent furniture shopping. She is moving into a place that is much smaller, so has to downsize everything from the dining room table to the sofa and chairs. At one point midway through the first day we went to Macy's to look at couches. I dropped my mom off then went to park my car. When I got to the furniture floor it took some time to locate her. Finally, in a far off corner of the store I saw what appeared to be a very small woman being swallowed by a gigantic couch. As I approached she sat looking at me with that crazed look of defeat that happens when too much time has been spent shopping with too few results. She said, "I think I'll get this one." I asked the sales clerk if my mom and I could have a moment alone. Needless to say we left without the couch.
This is the table my mom will be giving away. It doesn't look like much in this photo. You can see the rungs at the bottoms of the chairs have the finish worn off. There are scratches and small nicks in the seats of the chairs from years of people sliding on and off of them. The marks on the table top from the Super Glue Incident my brother had when he was a teenager can still be spotted if you know where to look.
This table has been the centre of our family for 40 years. We have celebrated around it.
|Rebekah and Alexandra|
|Kellen, Rebekah and me|
We have played countless games on it.
|Karsten, Jay, Rebekah and Kellen|
It even held my wedding cake.
|Left to right: my parents, me and Jay, Jay's parents|
The night I arrived at my mom's my cousin Tammy came over to have dinner with us. We sat around the table eating, laughing and sharing memories of when we were young. At one point my mom asked Tammy if she remembered our Great Aunt Christine. Tammy looked at me and laughed, saying she didn't but she knew I did.
Christine was my grandpa's sister. Not only was she his sister, she was the family matriarch. She had immigrated to America long before my grandpa and his brother Hans, and she was the self-proclaimed boss. I dreaded having to go visit at her house. In fact, I am sure my lifelong hatred of doilies can be traced back to those visits.
|At the back are my Uncle Hans, my grandpa, and my Aunt Christine, who I hasten to add I am NOT named after!|
However, there was something even worse than the doilies. It was the fact that she thought I was named after her. I would adamantly state my name was Kristie and she would continue to call me Little Christine. Every single time we visited. Now there is nothing wrong with the name Christine. I quite like the name. But it wasn't my name. And did I mention she was a little short in the joy department? I think all those doilies had sucked the life right out of her. Robert Burns must have known someone very like my great aunt. These lines are from his poem Tam O' Shanter, and they do a much better job of describing her than I ever could.
"Where sits our sulky sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storms,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm."
As it turns out that evening with my cousin and my mom was my last meal at The Table, the one that has been our family's faithful companion through both joy and sorrow, celebration and consolation. Thousands of seemingly ordinary meals, along with the occasional extraordinary one have happened around it and now that era has come to an end. I try to remind myself it is just a thing, a piece of furniture, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't sad to walk out of the apartment and know I would never see it again. I just keep trying to remind myself that the memories are mine forever, and, in the end, it is those memories that gave the table its value.