Family life around our place has always been centered around the kitchen or dining room tables, where big family meals take place, and where the family meets for a majority of our most important activities.
The dining room table that now graces our home has been the center of many family gatherings, not just for my wife and our children, but also for my grandparents before us.
When my grandfather, John Arens passed away at a spry 97 years of age back in 1991, family members gathered his many belongings and sorted, reminisced and debated the heritage of furniture, letters, old photos and memorabilia of his life. A few months after his death, a public auction was held at his home in Crofton, selling off many of his personal belongings.
Among the items listed on the sale was grandpa’s dining room table, a simple drop-leaf table with four wooden chairs. When it came time for his dining room table to be sold, I stood close by the auctioneers and bid up some of my cousins, eventually purchasing the table for my own. I’m sure many of my friends wondered what I wanted with grandpa’s old dining room table. I wasn’t married at the time and I was living in a little house down by Bow Creek that was too small to even store such a large piece of furniture.
I brought the table and chairs home carefully and packed them away in a vacated bedroom in my parent’s farm house, hoping someday that I would live there, have a family of my own, and be able to get full use out of that table in my own family setting, as my grandparents had done for many years.
I recalled family meals at the table at grandpa’s house. I can still see the big glass section that covered the center of the table in his dining room. Whenever we visited grandpa in his later years, after grandma had passed away, it wasn’t unusual to see him sitting at the table, writing letters, opening correspondence from relatives, or reading newspapers and sorting mail.
If he brought out old photos to show us from his travels, fishing and hunting trips, we always gathered around that same table for the viewing. When I purchased his table, I hoped it would become the center of my household and serve good duty for me as well. When Donna and I were married, my folks moved from the farm house to a new house in Crofton, and we, as newlyweds, moved in. Grandpa’s table was dusted off and brought out of storage once and for all, gracing the center of our large dining room. Although the table often serves – to the dismay of my wife – as the art center and coloring book table for our children, it is still the first place we sort the mail each day, the place my children prefer to do their homework, the place where we sit to play games or laugh together, and to serve meals for birthdays and other family celebrations.
Grandpa’s table turned out to be a good purchase for me. At his sale, I couldn’t afford to purchase anything else, but I think I got a good deal. When I brought the table home, I brought a piece of family heritage home too, including some fond memories of important family time that had taken place there, as well as the promise of new memories still to be made. If grandpa could see his old table again, I think he would approve of its honored position in our family.