The red and rotting picnic table was strategically placed over a stump at The Little Red Schoolhouse when Kateri and I bought it. Our only plan with it was to take an evening and simply torch it in the back yard, but with the move and excitement of owning our first home we never really got around to it in that first fall/winter/spring, which proved to be a good thing. My whole fam damily came that first summer we were in The Schoolhouse and as Kateri and I were preparing for their arrival we realized we didn’t exactly have enough table space… or chairs… for everyone! So, Kateri got some of that picnic table themed vinyl stuff and we wrapped the benches and table top with it, I screwed a 2×4 to one of the deteriorating legs so that it would make contact with the ground, and Voila!… table for 8!… or 9… maybe 10. We figured we would use it for that week and do something with it after they left. Well… it’s been seven years and even though it proved to be useful in the years since it was used as a stump cover… the plasticky vinyl covering is destroyed, the wood has just kept rotting as it sat in the rain and snow, and frankly…. I just got sick of thinking about how and when I would get rid of it…! So as I thought about how I wanted to spend my 5th Wedding Anniversary as a Widower, the picnic table came to mind and I decided to do something about it.
My widowed life has taken a little to get used to. Things pop up that kinda catch me by surprise such as the fact that I have lived longer in our Little Red Schoolhouse by myself than with Kateri, yet I’m surrounded by twenty years of life I shared with her as I move forward through time without her. I’m still learning how to accept the “Instant Independence” that death handed me while also experimenting on ways to make Our Little Red Schoolhouse… Our Home… into My Home. The Picnic Table was one of those things that has a strong attachment to Kateri for me, as well as a strong attachment to my Widowed Life every time I walk past it and think about how much I just don’t want to see it anymore. So I thought tearing it apart would be a wonderful way to remember some fun moments Kateri and I had with it, it would be another step (albeit small) into “My Life”, and it would give me an opportunity to use power tools!… and maybe light something on fire.
A table can mean all sorts of things and we can put all sorts of significance on gathering around one for a meal, a celebration, for a serious talk, or those times we sit there by ourselves with nothing but our thoughts. Sometimes a table is a “Catch-all” for those things we carry around in our pockets all day or it can simply be a flat surface for us to put something on that we plan to deal with later. Going through the experience of celebrating my 5th Wedding Anniversary (would’ve been our 11th Wedding Anniversary/twenty-thirdish year together) without my wife… spending time cutting that picnic table into little chunks and hauling it up to the fire pit and then sitting and staring at the flames as they gradually illuminated the trees while the Autumn Sun slowly set behind Bear Ridge, I realized that a table… even an old, rotting, and weathered one… has the ability and strength to hold so much more than I expected it to.
Random Widower Thoughts:
- On Tuesday, the day before my Wedding Anniversary, I was standing in the back yard taking a moment and I started to feel some of the emotions that come along with Loss bubble up. And then I thought about the fact that my Wedding Anniversary was Tomorrow… and not Today. Although feelings and emotions come when they want, I had to remind myself that I was still living in the present and before I could really let myself get immersed in the life and loss of Kateri… I needed to thank someone for always being supportive, for being understanding, for being a caring and giving individual, for being there for me, and for loving me. I needed to take a moment… be in the present… tell them, “Thanks”… and, “I love you.” We carry the past with us, but that’s not where we live.