In my house there's a gate-legged table that belonged to my mother. She brought it from her childhood home to the new little starter house Daddy bought for the two of them to begin married life in Minneapolis. That was sometime around the last of the year 1924. I came along shortly before Christmas of the next year and, when I was old enough to tackle the task, dusting that little table was my job.
The table was the one thing I chose when my father broke up house-keeping. It stands in my bedroom now and looks rather sad. What it needs is some extensive repair and most of all a thorough dusting and polishing. Murphy's Oil might do the trick. I remember how Mother got down on her knees and showed me how to polish those spindle legs and the oval drop leaves. She made me feel it was a privilege to have inherited that job, a link to generations past. I remember best however, when I was finished with the job, she'd come to inspect my work. She, unlike other housewives of that era often wore "slacks." ("Pants" were something you wore under them.) But over her crisp white blouse and slacks there would be a fresh apron with a ruffle around the edge. She'd come and stand back to look at the table and under her curly dark hair and beautiful dark eyes was a smile that only mothers can smile. That was my reward.
It is no wonder then that when Daddy asked me what I'd like to have of his household furnishings I claimed the gate-legged table. By then I really didn't have room for it and so wherever I've moved it's ended up in my bedroom. I use it to hold those countless small framed pictures of children, grandchildren and other faces of generations past that have to be identified when a little one asks, "Who's this, Grandma?"
Now I have a hard time getting around to dusting, let alone polishing, furniture. It's too easy to put that job off until I know company is coming. The table's drop-leaves are down and a long runner drapes over its top and sides so dust doesn't show much. But the spindle legs peek out as I walk by and remind me that someday I've got to get down on my hands and knees and tackle the job of cleaning and polishing my treasured table. I know of a place I could take it where the man has a business of antique restoration. It would cost me a pretty penny to give him the job and I suppose that's the one obstacle. Still, someday I simply must have the table restored so someone can care about it, love it, keep it, use it. The alternative is too tragic to contemplate. No one has the memories I have to go with the table but someone somewhere will want it, I hope. In the back of my mind as I walk past Mother's table I see her standing by and I know I must make the effort to give it new life.
I'd love to imagine her pleasure. I'd love to deserve that smile!