18 September 2008

Resting on Grace, part 1

This September 17 post, Grace Around Grace, got me thinking not about my wooden table, but about my wooden chairs. The table itself was a gift, yes, a grace given as I finished college and moved into a nearly-empty house. But around the table--Oh, these graces, as well as their story, hold me up each time I sit down.

Their story began long ago, when my childhood front porch, an expanse large enough for us to pretend it was a platform, sat void of chairs. My mother wanted, I think, a bouquet of wooden chairs, each one different in shape and color. We children, likely influenced by our father's skepticism, thought this an odd idea indeed, and it never bore fruit.

She did get a few wooden chairs and paint them white, but her bouquet of chairs still rested in her imagination, waiting for the proper time.

Fast forward ten or twelve years to the day Mom and I stood in the yarn aisle, choosing the colors for my afghan. I was finishing school, and this twenty-something young lady had become much less the tom-boy of her youth. Bouquets of color suddenly made sense. How could life be any other way?

I had become so much of my mother over the years as my understanding of her grew.

I began with three colors: vivid turquoise, lime green, and yellow. Mom suggested a warm color, and the brightest pink seemed the best. There was a catch, though, because she had always taught me to group things in odd numbers...and salmon joined the mix.

Those moments decided the colors for my whole house before I even knew where I would live.

I had bedroom furniture, but nothing else. Mom found a little round table and one old wooden chair for me; Dad reluctantly offered one of his favorite Goodwill finds from beside the wood stove in the garage where he would sit next to the fire just for fun, or to cook his food over its top (a winter-time barbeque).

Then Mom planted an idea in my mind--I'm sure it was she who did it: to paint each chair (I eventually acquired three more from Goodwill) to match each color of my afghan-in-progress. The idea sprouted, and as I bounced it off several (married) friends, the response was always the same:

Do it now, before you're married, or you'll never have another chance.

Whether they were right, I have no idea, but I proceeded with the paint idea anyway, one color at a time. One friend even gave me a gift certificate to a local paint store to spur me on.

The colors had to be specially mixed. I took my yarn pieces with me to the paint section, held them up to the paint chips, and asked the sales representatives to please mix the colors as close to my yarn as possible. I showed up to church and school board meetings, my hands a bright wash of spots. And finally, the chairs were done.
Here you see the first two chairs, the turquoise and the green, reflected in one of my mirrors, also gracefully bestowed out of an aunt's garage after ten years of hiding. You can see from the yellow ladder that the paint spilled over from the chairs to other old wooden things.
Isn't that how grace works, spilling over and touching everything in our lives, never really ending where it started?
Although my little home is now well-furnished, five little yarn swatches still ride around in my mother's purse, ever ready to advise her in the gifts she considers sending my way.
Since every piece of furniture I own has a story of grace, perhaps this will be the first post in a sprinkling of posts on the topic. At the very least, I must also tell of my front porch chairs, which were my dad's delight before he gave them to me, again out of the garage.


  1. Oooo... I really like this. A trail of grace, yes? Years of discovery, color, and the bond between you and your mom. Sweet too that she still carries the yarn in her purse.

    A series. What a delight that would be. (Let me know as you post, and I shall link to each and every one! :)

  2. I think vivid colors are the best! So full of life that wherever you paint them instantly perks up.

    Looking forward to reading what else you've got up your sleeve. (I have such a thing for the stories behind old furniture!)

  3. One month after you posted this, I finally see it! Didn't know I was so far behind! But what a delight that my term "boquet of chairs" was not forgotten--I've always kind of liked that term. Anyway, as long as I have not had such a boquet at my house (or even if I had), I kind of do through you, and that is very fun. It's a vindication, of sorts, of my "odd" idea!!

  4. PS To see so much of your mother in yourself strikes me as a rare thing for a woman your age--it takes much longer for most of us. And, yes, I did notice the date of that posting! :)


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