Sunday, July 1, 2012
Mom is planning to buy more new furniture. Each time I come home to visit it feels that our house is a revolving furniture store, with fresh models of chests and tables and chairs and decorations But I wasn't prepared when, last week, Mom pointed to the desk. In a tone that spoke of long standing animosity, she said, "That monstrosity's going next. Since Joey's going to school this year, I won't need it." And she told me of her plans to set her new entertainment center against that wall in its place. In truth, I think she's always thought the desk transgressed her interior decorating style. My heart dropped a little as I looked at the simple oak desk. I don't even remember when it became a part of our house, but my dad built it, one of the pieces of furniture that had helped ignite my dad's love for woodwork. It was simple, with three side drawers and one long top drawer. With three shelves and, just above the desk under the bottom shelf, a light that always blinked three times before coming on. The desk is all corners, scary to have children around. More than once I've nearly ruptured a kidney by backing into the thing. And heavy. It was the piece of furniture my most dreaded lugging around during the frequent moves of my childhood. But it went with us to North Carolina, to Maryland, and back to two more moves in South Carolina. The desk set the tone for the rest of the furniture in the room to which Mom assigned it. Because once in place, the thing wouldn't be moving. When Mom said so flippantly that she was getting rid of it, I felt as if she had decided to send a family member to Goodwill. From my first memories, the bottom drawer always stuck, an obstacle that didn't impede me from pulling it open with all my strength to discover the comic books in there along with the pack of my dad's colored pencils, as well as a horn of some animal that he had begun to scrimshaw. remnants of his former life as an aspiring artist. The drawer smelled of ink and leather, the smell of a life shoved in the drawer, forgotten so that he could earn a living for us, leaving behind his ambition. Later the desk became command central for my home school years. Scattered with Mom's lesson plans, with pens and pencils, stickers and charts, text books and binders, it was always the place I referred to for answers. Most recently, however, it's a catch-all for dried up pens and broken pencils and the snack wrappers my brother's refuse to carry ten more feet to the kitchen trashcan. So I guess I can't make a good argument for my mom keeping it. Except to think, "But it's the desk." At the risk of sounding sentimental, I asked, "What will you do with it?" and ran my finger across the pointy edge, now a bit dull from age. "Chris is coming to get it. He hopes to pastor a church soon. Says it will be great for his office." I'm glad to know who's inheriting the desk, that it will be serving a noble purpose. But I kind of hope I'm there to say goodbye when my dad lugs it out for the last time.