The Art of Furniture Refurbishing
Copyright 2016 Carey Burns
Melody plugged in the overhead fluorescent light, its hum and crackle chasing off the ghosts and shadows of the basement. Her father's work bench and tools, the shelves of chemicals and brushes stood before her waiting.
She set the bent wood rocker on the aged canvas tarp and wiped her brow. Generations of her family have planted their rear ends on that chair, wearing the dark stain from the arms and the seat.
The chair sat in her grandparents' house and rocked her as a sickly child in her mother's arms. It soothed her dying grandmother when her joint pain kept her awake at night. Before that it belonged to her great-grandparents.
She pulled the sanding block from a shelf and set to work. With the grain, her father had taught her. Long, smooth strokes. Each 'shhh' of the block was a memory. Grandmother's chocolate chip cookies. Shhh. Dad watching old movies on Friday night. Shhh. Dad making a patio set for her mom. Shhh. Mom succumbing to the breast cancer that was supposedly gone. Shhh.
The arms of the chair were naked wood now and Melody swallowed against the lump in her throat, moving the block to the head of the chair. Lip trembling, she continued.
Dad's loneliness. Shhh. His withering spirit. Shhh. His sad eyes. Shhh. The call from the police. Shhh. The closed casket funeral. Shhh. The whispers and judgmental glances. Shhh.
The professional cleaners did a great job cleaning up the mess from the walls and carpet and the chair, but the dark red stain remained. She could still see it.
Melody stood back and studied her work. The chair was free of any color, smooth and naked. Over the course of the day she sanded with finer and finer grit, removing old scratches and scuffs in the wood.
Sure, the patina was removed and the value lessened but her family's chair remained. With a final swipe of the tack cloth she smiled, pondering finishes. With the blank canvas, anything was possible.