As a wedding present, my grandmother (“Nanny”) gave me her dining room set.
A few months before I got married (in 2006), she moved in with my parents; her health had declined, and the two-story century home she’d lived in for 60 years became too much for her to handle on her own.
A few water rings adorned the table’s surface, and the chair cushions—brittle with over 40 years of wear—needed to be reupholstered; but the china closet was in pristine condition—so we loaded the behemoth into the moving van on our way to Georgia.
Because my husband and I moved into a house in the Old Dominion and now have space for the rest of it, the dining room set became one of the top items of interest during my parents’ purging spree. Over Christmas, my dad gave it a major face-lift, and the pieces are now reunited after three and a half years.
Looking at the set, in its final resting place of our dining room, I can’t help but wonder the kinds of things it saw during its stay in Willoughby, Ohio.
As Nanny can no longer tell the tales (she too lay in her final resting place), the whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Dr. George Bilgere.
One of my (favorite) college professors and the author of five poetry books, Bilgere uncovers his family’s history in “The Table.” Written in beautiful prose, “The Table” is not lengthy—and you’re truly missing out if you don’t read it. <—No excuses—even if you’re “not a poetry person.”
I have used it when teaching poetry in previous years, and although the poem doesn’t tell my family’s story, it strikes me every time I read it.
…and today, it reminds me of how fortunate I feel to be able to give my table a whole new history.