Friday, March 4, 2011

Sold...a little piece of my heart


About 20 years ago now, I was driving through Grosse Pointe Farms and saw a sign for an estate sale. With a little time on my hands, I parked my car to see what I could discover. Being the last day of the sale, most things were picked through already and the seller was desperate to unload what was left.

With no dining room furniture to speak of in my new home, I was interested in the dining room suite. There was a table that without leaves would seat six, but with all three leaves that came with it, could comfortably fit twelve. Included was a buffet, china cabinet, six chairs and if I'd consider buying it, the seller would throw in a pedestal drum table with a leather top. All of it was in the worst possible condition imaginable, but, imagine I did. I saw it restored to glory in my mind's eye, plopped down $500 for the lot of it and considered myself blessed. Most of my friends and family thought I'd lost my mind and couldn't possibly see what this mess of wood could become in the hands of the right artisan.

Several years later, we finally had enough money to have it all professionally restored. The process seemed to take forever, during which time I visited the project to see these pieces many times. I saw them all looking raggedy and wretched--little better than potential kindling. I saw them stripped to expose their glorious original woods which included poplar, mahogany and some walnut. I visited again to choose stains which tormented me, but finally, though my house had a lot of natural oak, I threw caution to the wind and chose a rich cherry red stain. My last visit to the shop was to select the fabric used to recover the chairs.

After many months, the pieces were returned to me and were absolutely stunning. What others plainly couldn't see during the early days of the sale, became my gain.

And now, it's my loss.

Our new home is way too small to house a dining room suite the size of this one. It's all too much for the confines of a 1,200 square foot home. Sometime late last summer, we had an estate specialist and antique dealer come to our home to appraise and then list the set on his website and two nights ago, someone must have seen what I saw and clicked the purchase button.

Sold. Just like that, I lost all of my dining room furniture and a little piece of my heart.

I have so many memories of the family meals we've shared around that table, like the year we bought my husband a set of utensils that extended three feet. That Christmas night, with all the leaves in spanning the distance between my husband and my father, my husband extended his fork and stole a piece of food off my dad's plate. The picture in my mind of my husband's boyish glee and my father laughing because he never expected food theft will forever be in my heart. It wouldn't have been the same without all that space between them.

I can recall the last meals, too. Christmas dinner of 2001 was the last one we shared with my dad. For Thanksgiving 2004, my mom, still so sad at the holidays, sat with my best friend and mourned. It was my friend's first holiday without her daughter. The two of them told stories, laughed, cried and polished off more than one bottle of wine. My mother, sitting next to Fannette, had a magical never empty wine glass and the rest of us spent the night mopping up tears. Though sad, it's a precious memory.

As I polish the pieces and prepare them for someone new to love, I find myself feeling a little bereft. It's not really the lustrous wood, or the grand pedestal legs of the table, or heart backed chairs I'll miss most...it's the opportunity to make more memories like these because most of the people who helped to make them so special are now gone from us.


16 comments:

Miss 376 said...

It's amazing how much of our lives go into these pieces of furniture. Now someone else will have the pleasure of making some more treasured memories

Brenda said...

We have furniture that has those memories also. I will feel sad like you when it is time to part with all of them. I have a friend that lives in Grosse Pointe, but she has only been there for about a year. Looks like Rachel had a nice birthday!

SkippyMom said...

::tears in my eyes:: We have to downsize soon and my grandmother's and great grandmother's pieces will have to go.

I feel your pain. More then you know.

Sorry Rudee. I am driving all the way to South Carolina on Sunday to pick up two pieces of history I have to let go.

sapphireblue said...

Well hopefully, it is going to a great home.

Stephanie V said...

You gave those beautiful pieces of furniture some lovely memories that are now polished into the wood. But your memories are still with you - and now I have them a bit, too.

Denise said...

I'm sorry you have to sell this. I understand how you feel.

Hopefully, the new family will love your set and make new memories.

That doesn't really help though.

Ruth said...

We had a table like that but it was just pine but so many meals and memories were shared around it.I donated it to a needy cause and hope that another family would have good times around it.
Cherish the memories.

The Bug said...

I'm glad you have the memories - and now that set can help a new family create special memories.

I wonder if Mike & I will ever acquire anything that makes us feel that way? We've lived like students for so long & haven't really gotten out of that mode (20 years in!). He's been sad about a recliner or two :)

Finding Pam said...

Rudee, that is so sad, but you will always have the memories.

I am giving our son and his wife my formal dining room furniture, the good china,crystal and silver. Our life style has changed since we moved two years ago. Now we are country bumpkins and I am not in any garden clubs where I have to entertain.

I still enjoy using my oak claw foot table in the breakfast area.

I am going to turn the dining room into the living room. The small living room I have will become a reading area.

Make sure you have some pictures of that great table. You can scrapbook them.

jo1967 said...

Put a copy of this post in the drawer of the furniture so that the new owners will know a little of the history of the pieces and also what they meant to you.

If I were buying old furniture I know I would love to read something like that!

NCmountainwoman said...

I think we become more attached to tables than any other furniture. We know the sofa and easy chairs have a finite life, but a good table lasts forever. Sorry you have to part with this one. I know how you feel.

Jane/WTKnits said...

Love that you saw the potential in those pieces and all the special memories they went on to give you. The kids and I had a similar conversation about our bashed and dented kitchen table just yesterday. You can actually see the marks of our memories!

Feeling your pain at parting with the set, but knowing how much you are blessing someone else.

Catherine said...

I am a terror for holding on to things - hoarding not quite as bad as in Hoarders - but I'd find it difficult to give up a nice dining set so fair play to you for doing so! It has so many memories for you, and they can be treasured through photos and yes, memories! After all, furniture is stuff, not people. I'm a fine one to talk - hubby's trying to get me to become more minimalist (for me, read decluttering a bit!)
I agree about Charlie Sheen's meltdown in your previous post, and what about Galliano's anti-semitic drunken rant? He's toast in the fashion world now of course, heard today he's still in that big river in Africa (de Nile!)Are you knitting anything? I need a guilt trip!
All the best, Catherine x

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

What a wonderful story Rudee. Had my grandmother's oak clawfoot dining room pedestal table and chairs and sort of got tired of looking at it. One of her great grands has it now. I just hope they keep passing it down til it falls apart. Hope to see a photo of the legs.
QMM

Gail said...

A wonderful story!

Sandy said...

Wow, that's a gorgeous photo! What a wonderful post to read - your memories - although how sad to sell the set...