My kitchen table doesn’t set level. It never has. Daddy made it with a chain saw and he couldn’t quite get the legs right. The nail heads are visible, not tiny furniture nails, but carpenter nails, the kind you would use to build a porch. Daddy couldn’t afford new nails, but he had some left over from an outbuilding he had built years ago. And he had a chain saw, an old one with a chain that often jumped, but he was thankful to have it. He had heard me say that I wished I had an old-fashioned table, so he made me one.
He presented it to me with a great sense of accomplishment one hot, dry day in the fall a few years ago. “It’s genuine cedar,” he said. I ran my hands over the pink and tan wood, feeling the marks left by his chain saw. “It’s a little wobbly,” he said. “I couldn’t get them legs right.”
“I love it,” I said. It was small and rugged, but it was also warm and rich and unique. I knew there would never be another table like it on this planet. It was individual as the man who had made it.
I discarded my store bought table, gave it away, and moved the one my daddy made into my kitchen. Through the years I’ve visited many nice homes, seen many exquisite tables, some marble top, others with satin finishes, some soft maple, others heavy oak. I have even thought about what it would be like to have such finery in my home, but those whimsical desires do not last. I have thought about moving my table to the basement or to a porch or some other less conspicuous corner of my home, but my heart immediately convicts me of my vanity. Daddy made that table with all the love a human can hold in his heart. No factory-made piece of furniture could ever stand in the most beloved room of my home, the center piece of so many family memories.
The table , with a chunk of wood under one leg and folded newspaper under another, has held Christmas pies and Thanksgiving turkeys. It has been the gathering place of Saturday morning french-banana pancake frenzies, held in my daughter’s honor, and the pedestal for Friday night pizzas. It’s where my husband and I share our coffee every day after work, where we speak of our trials and triumphs.
It has often served as our family alter and counseling center. It’s where my daughter’s wedding cake was decorated and where her dress was sewn. It’s where we annihilated each other in Trivia Pursuit and where many of my books, poems and songs have been written. Pictures have been painted on that table and stories have been told around it. It’s the source so of a hundred journal entries and the place where I meet my Creator every morning before my hectic day begins for quite time and coffee.
Sometimes I just run my hands over that table and think of the love that Daddy must have had to make it especially for me. The corners aren’t even. The cracks between the planks may be a little wide. There are knot holes and just plain holes, but that table testifies to me each day, reminding me that there has never been a time in my life when I haven’t known what it is liked to be loved, and it challenges me every day to go and live out my father’s legacy, to love someone the way I want to be loved.