Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

What Fixing a Piece of Furniture Up Has to Do with Anthony

I have an update on my chairs. They belonged to my great-grandfather, my mother told me, and are at least 75 years old. She’s going to do some checking with my aunt to see what she knows and remembers about them. And it’s not just the chairs – the drop-wing table I’ve got and the buffet with no legs (my mom cut them off in the 70s) are all part of the same set. Huh.

Four of the chairs have been stripped and re-glued. I’ve given them two coats of an oil finish, have given them all one coat of sealer, and sanded one of the four down (400 grit). Three more chairs need to be sanded, then they get one more seal coat (top and bottom), and one more sanding (400 or 600, we’ll see), then they’ll be done. Then once I’ve saved up the money, I’ll re-do the same process with the last two chairs.

There are a lot of ways that I could choose to re-finish these chairs, and each of those methods requires a bit of patience. The thing that I loved most about taking my furniture-making class at the technical college over the past three years was learning patience. It’s not that I’m a terribly patient or impatient person generally speaking. I’m more patient in some circumstances and less in others. What I learned from the carpentry – more true, what our teacher taught me – was respect for the process. Whatever process I had to do took a certain amount of time and if I cut any corners there was an immediately visible (and typically not desirable) result.

I’m a much better carpenter all around now than I used to be because of that particular lesson. Respect the process.

So here I am in Minneapolis, watching HGTV with Anthony and occasionally holding up a glass of water so he can drink, thinking about the people I know who are dead. My brother. My father. My aunt. My friend. My dog. My uncle. My grandfather. My grandmother. There are others.

Lisa and I put one of our cats down a few years ago and kept our hands on him when he got the shot, fell asleep, and didn’t wake up. We wanted him to feel us with him. The worst part about finding the second cat last October was not his stiff body, but hunting for it. I knew he’d died when I got up and he didn’t show up for breakfast, but I didn’t know where he’d gone to do it. Was he happier, dying at home in a spasm of pain? Or was the first cat happier, a moment of what’s going on boy do I feel woozy…

We’ve got all of these role models in life. Sports figures. Parental units. We learn how to act in relation to other people. How to be a good parent, a good child, someone who plays fair.

When are we supposed to learn how to die? I’d love to respect the process. If I had a clue at all to what it is.

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