Posted in Jeanne Marie

The Table & Chairs

My old table and chairs have been freshly painted and they’re adorable, but that’s not all there is to it.

They have traveled a long, rough road to land pretty on my front porch.

I’ll start with when I first remember seeing them in my mom’s living room. They were brand-new white.

I was thirtysomething with three young kids and my sister, seven years younger, had four younger kids.

My mom had a small basement apartment underneath my aunt’s house, but she had one closet full of blankets and pillows that we would use when we slept over. We would just spread them all over the tiny living room and it would be wall-to-wall kids.

Mom never cared how small her place was, she always had room for all of us.

We would cook huge Sunday dinners in her little kitchen, and then we would all stand there together doing the dishes.

In the evening, after the kids would settle down, my sister would put a table-cloth on the little table and a candle. She would say we were in a French bistro.

Then she would ask me to read some of my poems, which I always just happened to have with me.

For an hour so, we would all be transported to a little café in France and I was the entertainer.

My mom was my first reader and fan, but they were all my very first audience and their love for my writing carried me on waves of encouragement.

I didn’t find out until many years later that my sister also wrote poetry, and I was stunned when I read it because it was so much better than mine. She always gave me the spotlight.

My mom passed away in 2009, and I don’t know when my older sister acquired the table, but she graciously gave it to me when I asked her for it last spring. She also gave me the round cushions.

The little set traveled eighteen hundred miles with me to my new home.

My husband spent days painting it and repairing the metal binding around the table. Butterflies surrounded him as he worked, even landing on his hands.

I scrubbed it down before it was painted and butterflies were landing all over it then too.

My mom is a butterfly, so I believe the restoration made her happy.

Now that it’s finished, just looking at it makes me smile, overcome by the flood of memories it invokes.

I had my coffee at it this morning and as butterflies flitted by, I could feel my family, young and unscathed by the heartaches yet to come, unburned by the tragedies and the pain we would all go on to experience.

Those were innocent days. I just didn’t know. I am thrilled to have the table to remind me.

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