The Next Chapter For An Old Friend

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When I was in high school, a junior I believe, I found the iron ends of what used to be a bench of some sort. I rescued these end pieces from the trash pile, taking them into the garage where they would eventually sit, in a corner, for a few more months. Over the summer I scrubbed, rubbed, and scraped off years of paint, decay, and outdoor abuse. With the aid of my dad, we used some scrap red cedar, too short and too narrow for anything else, to make this a bench once again. I spent many hours applying linseed oil to the planks of wood, hand painting to iron supports, and getting it ready for a life in my mother’s garden she had in the front yard. This is where the bench lived for the next year. After graduation, I left to college in Waco the summer of ’87, my mother insisted I take the old bench because in her eyes it has always been mine. Since my high school sweetheart went with me, we decided to rent this little one bedroom, one bath house, the bench was our couch for the two years we lived there.

Soon enough, this bench would begin a journey with me, seeing the places in the world I would live, and eventually being introduced to my daughter who was born in Japan. The bench sat in my back yard facing a beautiful Japanese garden complete with koi ponds, statues, and a zen garden. We would sit out here daily, as weather permitted, watching the old couple in their 90s meticulously groom their garden. This is where I would read to her as I tried my hand at learning to speak Japanese. Eventually, we would begin calling New Mexico home, the bench found a spot under a large Chinkapin Oak where my daughter spent allot of time year round playing, reading, and taunting the local wildlife. Years later, her mother and I would indeed divorce, we owned very little in regards to furniture and such, but she wanted the bench for some reason. When I got wind of this devious plan the bench mysteriously got stolen, meaning I made it disappear, finding it a new home, once again, at my parent’s house. Skip ahead a few years now, I’m remarried, bought the place we’re in now, and the bench has been watching the pond ever since. By now, as you can see, some 28 years later, it needs a little tlc. I don’t know how old this bench is for real, but my almost 4 year old granddaughter has taken a liking to it. My oldest daughter thinks I should give it to her, one day, when she decides to get married.

When I told my son that I was going to be doing a little work to the bench he begged me to be a part of it all. Which is great for me, reminds me of when I was young and wanted to help my dad do things. I set him to disassembling the bench, taking care not to nick himself with something rusty, he used a fair amount of penetrating oil on all of the rusty bolts, all which would be replaced, which he didn’t know. He helped me scrub the metal and eventually paint it, he chose black again because as far as he can recall, its always been black. I had some engine block red I was going to use, but we kept it black for old time sakes. He helped cut the slats out of some reclaimed red cedar planks I had stashed, helped sand, shape, and finish them with me as well. Finally we were all ready for assembly, which he was very much involved in. I can see the pride on his face as we near the finish, he has done an absolute fantastic job, and I think he learned a few new things as well. Reminds me of a show I like that shows what happens to man made items if there is nobody to take care of them. For fun, I sent the picture below to my dad, asking if he remembered this bench. He called me and we talked about its great adventures and how well my own son had done bringing it back to life once again.

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6 responses to “The Next Chapter For An Old Friend

    • My life, in general, is pretty simple. Earlier in life I let things become overly complicated which about broke me as a person, therefore I adopted the k.I.s.s. (keep it simple stupid) way of life. Things, not unlike thus bench, tend to get discarded over time, and I am one who likes to bring new life to stuff. Maybe now, a third generation can raise their kids with the simple idea that is as simple as it gets, its just a bench.

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    • Thank you, my son stands very proud. Doing these things is a lost art with the coming generation, everything is disposable it seems. It makes me happy he enjoys working with his hands, resolving problems, and owning a project.

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  1. A beautiful story of keeping family ties strong. The bench is the “tie that binds.” It looks like you are building a wonderful relationship with your son. So happy for you. 🙂

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