Fast forward almost twenty years. That bench has stood in the front yard, the side yard, the garden, and--for the past few years--on the back deck. Over the decades, the wood has faded, then cracked, then gotten a little green with mildew in spots, finally beginning to rot away in places. The young mother remembers sitting on that bench in the front yard, watching the two- and four-year-olds ride their scooters around while she was in labor with her third child. Each little chubby leg of her four children has, over the years, hoisted itself up into that bench to sit and visit for a spell.
That woman, of course, is me, and about a month ago, I asked my father-in-law if there was any way to clean the wooden slats of that bench to restore it to some semblance of beauty and functionality. He looked it over and broke the news that it was probably not worth the time or trouble that it would take, but that he would see what he could do.
You can't even imagine my surprise and delight to receive this wonderful Christmas gift from sweet Opa! He had taken the bench apart and carried three of the pieces--the curved top, one of the seating slats, and one of the side pieces, home to his workshop. Instead of restoring them, he was replacing them--with beautiful oak pieces lovingly carved and fitted to the frame. He even saved and remounted the original metal plaque that had adorned the old one! I absolutely love it!!
This is what was waiting for me on the back porch during his visit this last week:
This bench was never this beautiful, even on the day it was first purchased almost twenty years ago. And though it has certainly accumulated a lifetime of memories since that time, none has been so precious as this lovingly crafted, hand-wrought makeover. Thank you, oh thank you, dear Opa!
May we sit on it, doing life and memories together, for many more years to come!
*Entry 1, January - The 12 Months of 2015 Blog Challenge
The title is inspired from the song "Benchmark" by Dave Burland.