There are so many ways to say, ‘I love you’.
Our son and daughter in love have just bought their first house, and so to help them out, Jim and I are giving them the antique harvest table that we have had forever. (We love you….)
It was our dining room table for decades, but it moved into my studio when we inherited his parent’s teak dining room table.
Of course, they need dining room chairs, too…. so, I cheerfully gave them 4 0f our dining room chairs.
(We love you….)
But, then… remembered…. oh, oh…. I just gave away half of our dining room chairs, and once a week, when the family is together for dinner, there are 8 of us…. oh, oh….
Okay…. so hold that thought…. (um, need to replace the dining room chairs)
Alright… on to a very big deal that has been happening in our lives.
The church that Jim’s parents were part of from their marriage right after WW2 to their death was the center of their lives. It has just shut down. It was where Jim’s childhood and adolescence orbited, and where he plays guitar most Sunday mornings. The remains of the dwindling congregation has amalgamated with another diminished congregation and the building has been sold to developers.
The beautiful old building will be demolished very soon- and Jim has been grieving this very hard.
So many memories, so much history, so many stories, so much music, so much life…..
The church has been stripped out and the fixtures and fittings have been blended over to the new church, with what can’t be assimilated there, being sold or given to other churches or to church members.
It’s a lovely way of keeping the history and energy of the church going.
Transformed, but still embraced by the community.
I really wanted to have a piece of something from the church that I could somehow enfold into our home so that Jim would have that deep history and connection at his finger tips. It’s been so hard for him to feel the loss of that precious space.
A thought popped into my mind, but I thought…. oh no…. probably couldn’t happen… hmmmm.
When we were walking the dogs last week, I asked Jim: ‘You know that bench in that little room off to the side of the nave? Is it available?’
He turned to me in amazement and said- ‘I was thinking the same thing, but thought that you wouldn’t want it!’.
We both grinned like fools, and said: ‘Let’s go for it!’
So, he called the man who’s in charge of disbursement, and amazingly enough, the bench was still there, and needed to be moved out ASAP, as there was very little time before the building would be handed over to the developers.
That night, I lay in bed, with the size of the bench growing in immensity in my mind, and thought:
‘We can’t do this! It’s huge! We are supposed to downsizing! Ack’.
Jim calmly said: ‘It’s going to work fine’. (I love you….)
Our son and his friends helped us lift it out (oh my! Heavy!), and then our son and son in love lugged it into the dining room:
I wanted to be very respectful of the bench, knowing how much work the gentleman who built it back in 1950 (It’s older than both of us!) put into it.
But, we really didn’t want it to look quite so ecclesiastical- it is retired now, after almost 65 years of noble service (well…. actually, it’s been tucked away in a back room for at least 36 of those years, but who’s counting?) and so now, it’s time for it to have a holiday, and become a well used and well loved domestic treasure.
So, I set to work, and started sanding. Whew. (I love you….)
And, I asked Jim what he wanted on it, besides mermaids- we always knew that it was going to be ‘The Mermaid Bench’.
He loves sailing, so he suggested a compass rose.
A 60 year old book of maps from the thrift shop had a compass rose on one of the maps- it’s only a 1/2 in tall, but it was enough to inspire me.
So, I started drawing. I added all kinds of things that we love, like trees, dragonflies, and a seahorse- Jim asked for that. I thought that it was most appropriate, as he is a fabulous father and grandfather, just like seahorses are.
I pulled some paint chips….
And primed it….
All the while, thinking: I love you!
I drew the compass rose and mermaids on plywood, and then cut them out, sanded, burned and varnished the medallions. (I love you….)
The seat cushions are temporary…. I’ll be weaving more appropriate ones soon. (I love you….)
This is what it actually looks like in the dining room:
It fits into our quirky, light hearted home perfectly.
And, it says, resoundingly: I LOVE YOU!!!!
Our wee grandson loves it, too, and is delighted that I sneaked a little portrait of him into the compass rose just to the right of the flower on the sun’s head.
Yes, indeed, there really are a million ways to say, ‘I love you’….. yes.
And, if I hadn’t impulsively given away half our chairs to our adored offspring, we would never have considered adopting our Mermaid Bench.
Well, love leads us in the most delightful ways, doesn’t it?
(I love you….)