Friday, March 14, 2014

Inheriting The Past - Raising My Vintage Kitchen Table

How I wish I was sitting at my Grandmothers kitchen table this morning. The sun is streaming through the side windows today the same way it filtered through her kitchen windows when I was young.  Her kitchen always seemed to be a pivotal point for everything in my life.
It was the very first place I called home while waiting for my parents house to be built. We moved when I was 6 months old, but something always called me back to Grandmas kitchen. Maybe this is why I always felt this was the place I needed to be. The place I always felt loved. The place I wish to be right now.
I am now many, many years away from the last time I saw my grandmother. But my memories of her are set in motion by things in my everyday life. Today it is the sun light. Perfect. Warm. Just the right angle.
On other days it's the way the coffee smells when I enter the kitchen. Sometimes it's burnt toast, which she preferred. The way I hold the broom when sweeping the floor or when the scatter rugs need shaking out. But mostly it's when I'm setting the table for dinner. She is here with me, in my mind. I am cherishing every moment.
It is through this table that I have a special connection with my grandmother.  My kitchen table is a source of so many memories. The ones I hold from the past and the ones I continue to make every day. It belonged to my grandmother, it was her dining room table.
She purchased it in the late 50's and in that sleek modern design, blond Formica sits prominently on top   In her time, she always kept it covered with lace to protect it. So when I received it, it was in perfect condition. Funny things is, is that I didn't receive this table when my grandmother passed. My younger sister did, along with the side board and the china hutch.  She gave it all to me when my child was born and my older sister trucked the entire set over 700 miles to where I live today.
Since then, I can tell you I will never part with this table. It has become the portal in which my grandmother enters my life on a daily basis. This is the table I have raised my child at. The one we congregate around, eat on, prep food on, bake Christmas cookies on. It is also the table I sew on, paint on and craft on. And every time I'm chipping off the extra hot glue or paint splatters, first I thank God it's Formica and then find myself speaking to her out loud. Telling her that I know she must be mad at this mess I've created...Again. Yet the feeling I receive back is that she's happy that we are living around this table, using it to it's fullest, having it continue to be such a huge a part of our lives. With it's everyday use I feel comforted that it is not left alone in another room we never use.  
The chairs are now long gone, ruined by the constant sliding on my tile floors and the table has now been updated in height to fit into our life.  When our family grew, after much thought,  I begged my dearest to increase the height of the table so that we could use it to it's maximum potential. At the time we could barely pass by one another if someone was sitting in a chair. Stools were the only considerable option in my tiny kitchen. Pushed under during the day, the stools help clear a easier path than the chairs ever did.
When my dearest told me it could not be done, his usual statement when I come up with a very unconventional idea, I hemmed and hawed about it for weeks. Finally, I took a good look at the table where the thin short legs were attached. There was an opening that could accommodate even the size of a fence post. So knowing how much this table gets pushed around changing it from it's smallest length to inserting the 2 leaves on a daily basis, I knew we needed something stronger than those you can purchase at Lowes or Home Depot. We ended up using 4x4's, replacing the bolts and it's worked wonders. It has increased the strength of the table considerably and now stands at the approximate height of a normal kitchen island and on occasion it is also used as such with the stools pushed in. The 4x4's we purchased at Lowes were, I believe, 10 feet long at about $12.97 each. Needing only two, for about $26.00 we had all four legs. Compared to just one butcher block leg at 22.98, I think we faired pretty well. The table itself adds another inch or two in height. The tall bar stools we already had, were cut down to 26 inches.  I've debated to paint the legs on the table white but the Formica top is blond which I won't consider painting, so I wonder if a darker color would work better. Unfortunately there are not many tables with Formica tops that I have seen on Pintrest being refurbished. So I continue to ponder the thought.

It took some time, but I no longer feel guilty about the messes I make on this table, I just laugh and tell her "I know... I know" as nod my head, cleaning it up or scraping it off. And I no longer worry about that I may have ruined the integrity of the table itself by the alterations I have chosen. I have come to understand that they are working perfectly together to intergrade every moment from yesterday, today and into tomorrow. Seamlessly as a family we continue to make memories in her honor, each day

And here I sit , with the sun shining through the morning windows at just the right angle, here at this table, in my kitchen. As I run my hand over the smooth Formica, in an instant, I know she's here with me.

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