My dad has wanted a live-edge table after seeing one years back at an Amish furniture store, but never thought they’d get one. My mom was along for the ride and wanted something that was one of a kind. So when I started building furniture full time last year, they approached me with the idea. They loosely guided me with what they wanted but gave me the artistic freedom to create what I love. That last sentence could basically sum up how they raised me—less in the details, more emphasis on the ideals behind the words.
My wife and I are having our first baby this summer, and building this table for my parents couldn’t have come at a better time. The hours I spent drawing up plans, measuring and cutting each board, filling cracks with epoxy, chiseling out inlays, removing bark, and countless hours sanding were filled with music and my mind wandering toward fatherhood. What’s it mean? What’s it look like? Can I actually be responsible for another human for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Oak inlays or walnut? Questions turned to daydreams of wondering what kind of adventures he and I would go on, what kind of ornery trouble we’d get into, the talks we’d have, and hoping our home is filled with even more laughter once my son arrives. Most days though, I’d pass through these thoughts and dreams after lingering for hours, and find myself thinking about my parents.
How they both prioritized their dreams and sacrificed for our family. How they were always selfless with their time, money, and love. How my childhood was carefree because they did the “normal” day-to-day adult things. It didn’t matter who we brought around the house, they were automatically apart of our family and were always welcome to stay, eat, or even go on vacations with us. (One of my favourites being a week long camping trip with my cousins where my parents gave me my first pocket knife.) My parents were always there with advice, a genuine desire to hear what I had to say, and gave me the freedom to disagree with them, which I did a lot during my teenage years. But it taught me that people can have different opinions yet continue to deeply love and respect one another. They raised me with instruction of right and wrong, but I learned that the motive of one’s heart is most important and I learned so by watching them. Like a time when mom and I were arguing in the kitchen and instead of swinging his male pride around or stomping his foot down, my dad, while doing the dishes, starts to spray us with water from the sink. Shocked, soaked, and laughing we calmed down and realized we actually agreed with one another. All of these little moments or lessons culminated into a culture they created where I could be myself, fail or succeed, be average or above, grow from a boy to a man, and along every step, or misstep, I knew they were always there to listen, support, and love me.
Every night we’d eat dinner together, and it was pretty normal to have friends join us. My dad would come home from work and usually cook some type of chicken or pasta. We’d all gather and talk about our days. Sometimes great stories were told and sometimes the conversation wasn’t memorable, but we never gathered to be entertained. We gathered to be together and know each other.
As I finished the walnut with bee’s wax and oil, I thought about how my parents finally have a table worthy of their conversation and hearts. I dreamt of holidays and random Saturdays where my son can grow and be spoiled by his grandparents at this table.
And many decades later, standing on our shoulders, he’ll be able to do the same here with his.