Vol 13, Num 15 :: 2014.07.25 — 2014.09.04
“Would you like the bedroom furniture that used to belong to your grandma?” the question was posed to me over the phone. Time stopped as my mind slipped back more than 20 years into the past — back to a little girl who loved visiting her grandparents’ home out in the country, holding sleepovers in her grandmother’s room where a couple of chairs were always pushed against the bed to keep the girl from rolling off in the night, the huge dresser where the young girl stood in front of the mirror dusting powder onto her face as her grandma sat laughing nearby, the tall chest of drawers with that special bottom drawer crammed full of every picture, poem and card the little girl and her brother had created for their grandparents.
“Do I want it?” I repeated into the phone, my mind pulled back to the present. My aunt and uncle — who had housed the furniture after my grandparents’ passing — were remodeling their home and looking for a new location for the bedroom suit. “Do I want it?” my voice rose. “OF COURSE I want it!”
The furniture was very large and heavy. My dad and uncles planned a time they could unload the bedroom suit at my house on a day I was busy at work. When the day arrived, I continuously watched the sky from the open window at my job, willing the rainclouds out of the forecast; but the heavy downpour sank my spirits as I knew the beloved furniture couldn’t be hauled in the back of a truck in such weather. I sighed, knowing my dad and uncles would need to choose another time to deliver the furniture to my house.
Several nights later, I unlocked my front door on a cold, dreary night in that in-between season of late winter but almost spring, and walked into my quiet living room after an evening rehearsing music at church. Turning towards my bedroom, I switched on the light — and immediately stopped.
There, directly in front of me, was my grandma’s furniture. Mama Grace’s furniture. Right before me was the bed I had slept in so many times on those overnight visits, the long dresser with its tall mirror — where my grandma always deemed me pretty no matter what I looked like — and the matching chest of spacious drawers. Over 20 years had passed, yet the details of the cherished heirlooms had remained impressed in my memory, as vividly as they stood before me now. In the hush of the house, I made no sound as I stood letting the tender recollections wash over me. Smiling, laughing memories of a carefree girl with her loving grandparents flooded my heart. Sadder, heart-breaking memories of grandparents eventually bedridden because of the ugliness of cancer pushed their way forward from the dark corners of my mind. Yet the beautiful antiques now filling my small, hardwood-floor bedroom felt like a tiny resurrection — a gift and reminder that a portion of my life so treasured yet long-gone was being returned to me.
I walked to the corner of the dresser and saw what I remembered on its surface — scuffed enamel where a small part of the furniture had been damaged through years of use, still there, just as it was when I was a little girl playing in the powders and perfumes that sat on its surface.
A few people have since suggested that I repair that imperfection. With matching varnish and a brush, I could touch up that worn area on the dresser and give it a shiny, nearly new veneer.
But I haven’t.
The heirloom is still priceless to me with all its imperfections and blemishes — just as we are priceless to our Creator, with all our defects and inadequacies. Life will bruise us; our best efforts and attempts at goodness will still leave stains and scars. Any façade of perfection we portray will be merely an illusion. A lifetime of striving will still not bring us to a point of “arrival” — at least not in this life.
So day by day, as I make my bed, dust the furniture which belonged to my grandma, arrange my jewelry boxes setting on its surface, store cards and letters in that sentimental bottom drawer of the tall bureau, I leave the scars of the heirloom visible. Its imperfections tell a story of how brokenness doesn’t diminish incomparable worth.
And neither does ours.