|Wobbly table gets a new life.|
I followed him out to the taproom where his worktable stood. Beneath the large workspace, which was covered with boxes of things that hadn't found their way to proper storage, were a number of boards of varying lengths. Stored on the floor beneath them were cans of paint, some half-used, some unopened.
Dad sent me into the garage for the handsaw. When I returned he had a board trapped in a vice and was hammering another board to it. I watched, impressed, as he selected, measured and cut another. Catching my expression he said, "I took shop in high school. I know what I'm doing."
Hence I didn't worry at his perplexed look when it came to affixing the legs to the narrow frame he'd nailed together. He had, by chance (or from some previous, unfinished project), four long, straight pieces of wood that seemed the perfect shape for table legs. After fussing about with them for awhile, he had me hold each piece flush into its proper corner of the frame while he nailed them in. The result was a bit wobbly but serviceable, a word that dominated my father's vocabulary.
He dug about in the board pile until he found one that was bigger than the frame. With a steady hand he spread wood glue along the frame edges, set on the table top and clamped the whole thing together. "We'll paint it tomorrow," he told me. We draped the project with an old sheet he used for catching paint spills and went in to dinner.
After supper the next evening he jerked his head at me and winked. I scrambled after him into the workroom. Dad pried the lid off a can of blue paint first but there was a mere inch in the bottom of the can, thick with scum. A can of brown paint wasn't much better and the white paint was so old it was ochre clear through. "This," said my dad, holding up a new can of canary yellow paint, "will have to do."
I had my doubts that Mama would be delighted with a canary yellow table in our predominantly pastel kitchen but I held my tongue. Turning the table upside down, Dad let me help paint the legs. "Tomorrow, when they're dry," he told me, "we will put a coat on the top and it's done!"
If my mother wondered what we were doing out there, she never asked. If she'd peeked beneath the sheet and saw what my father was planning to surprise her with, she never said. The night after we applied the final coat of yellow paint, my father proudly bore the table into the kitchen, setting it down next to the sink. It was nearly the perfect height. A shim stuck behind one of the legs countered the general wobbliness, and the canary yellow paint brought what I hoped my mother would think of as a bit of sunshine to brighten up her work space.
She looked at my father with wide eyes. Her hands flew to her cheeks as she examined his craftsmanship. Then she turned to us and with undisguised pride said, "Just look what your father has made for me!" And, as she turned to the sink, "Ask and thou shalt receive," muttered sotto voce so only I heard.
That table stood by the sink until both of my parents passed away and my sister, who inherited the house, had the kitchen remodeled. At my request, she saved the table for me and it made its way to my Vermont log cabin where I painted it white, covered its top with serviceable red and white plaid contact paper and stuck it near my own sink. It followed me back to the house of my childhood when I returned to Massachusetts and again to the cottage when I moved here a dozen years ago.
Today it's again being painted, a soft white to blend with the decor in my living area. As I peeled the old contact paper from its top and sanded the chipped paint on the legs, revealing for the first time in years its original color, I remembered the table's beginnings. Like my father, I'm no handyman though I enjoy reclaiming old things for repurposing. People often say to me, "You are your mother's daughter," when I do something they think is particularly witty or clever. Today, replacing the lost shim and catching paint drips that slithered down over Dad's old paint drips, I realized I am my father's daughter, too.
|Daybed with trundle replaces old sofa.|