Small Maple Table Reminds Me of When My Sister Was Born

28 Aug
The table in my basement family room in fall 2013.

The table in my basement family room in fall 2013.

When my siblings and I divided up the furniture and personal items we wanted to each keep from our parents and grandparents, I chose a small maple table from the kitchen in our house in the Catskills. It is not in great shape. But it expands to sit 6 people if you need extra seating. The legs are a little wobbly. The top is a little scratched. But for some reason, I love this table. So it became mine.

It arrived safely last fall. I immediately cleaned it and put furniture cream on it, as it had been really uncared for in the few years since our parents had passed away. We had not spent a lot of time in the Catskills after they passed, and all the furniture up there had been unattended. But now that is changing.

I knew this table once belonged to my grandparents, then it became my parents, all that time it had stayed in the Catskills. But now it is mine and away from the Catskills at my home in Kansas. I had no idea how long it was in the family. However, this table called out to me. It was something comfortable. It seemed to always be around.

A few weeks after the furniture arrived, I was looking at photos that my brother also had shipped out to me. And I found a special photo. Wow! There is part of the table next to my brother and me. We are about 4 and 3 standing in our grandparent’s bungalow before a birthday party in 1958.

With the maple table in the Catskills, summer of 1958.

With the maple table in the Catskills, summer of 1958.

My brother and I are very dressed up for the Catskills. I know it is a party because I have found other photos with my cousins and grandfather. I think it was my oldest cousin’s fifth or sixth birthday. And it could have been a double party because I have two cousins whose birthdays are just a few weeks apart, and they are the same age.

My Mom was very pregnant that summer. (I actually have a photo of her as well!) Soon after this picture was taken, my cousin’s birthday was in July, my parents left for the City. They needed to be near the doctors and hospital. So we, my brother and I stayed with my grandparents.

Finding that photo of my brother and I was wonderful! I have always loved this table, but this photo makes me even more aware of its family history.

I have become a bit obsessive about my parents and grandparents furniture. My sister might say, crazed. My brother would call me loony. And I accept these type comments. How can I not? I am. Part of me wants everything to go back the way it was when our parents and grandparents were alive. I realize I cannot do that. But in a little way, I try.

An example?   I have my grandmother/mother’s baby grand piano.   I have had it for 29 years. I love it. I played the piano as a child and adult. My daughter took piano lesson on this piano. Friends have enjoyed its lovely tone.

My Mom played as well. She studied at Julliard all through high school, but my grandfather would not let her go there for college. She went to what became “Douglass” instead to be a teacher. As a teacher she would always have a job, but not as a musician.

After my parents passed away I wanted two items that my grandparents kept on the piano. We have photos of that as well. And my siblings did not argue, they let me have them. The metronome made sense. It should be by the piano. But my grandmother always kept a vase from Japan on the piano. I believe my Dad brought it back when he returned from his service in the Korean War. Now I have both items on the piano as well.

For some reason, when I see these two items on my piano, mixed in with my items, I have a sense that all is right in the world.   I remember these two items from my childhood and it brings a sense of security. Finding the old photos reinforces memories I had, and brings back memories I had forgotten.

The photo of my brother and I with the little maple table comes from a time of my earliest memories. All my first memories come from that summer, the summer before my sister was born.   I remember my Mom pregnant and leaving to stay in the city till the baby was born. I remember staying with my grandparents in the Catskills and all my cousins. I remember my Dad coming to get us after my sister was born in early September, and my mom was back home.

I remember seeing my sister for the very first time. I remember thinking that she was really small and was not going to be able to play with us.

From that moment forward I have so many memories. So to see my brother and I with the table from that summer is an amazing find. The table brings back so many happy memories. I hope it provides my children with happy memories as well.

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