Five years ago, I was on the hunt for a white farmhouse table to use as our everyday table in the kitchen. I found some beautiful pieces, but wasn’t able to spend the $600-700. Instead, my ever handy husband Patrick found a table for $10. What? He told me the rectangular table had a large crack that extended from one end to the other, and that the table would not function as-is. Despite my serious doubts, we went to see the table, which clearly had once been a beautiful piece. The crack made it evident that this table would not hold up being climbed on and heavily used by a family with four young kids. Patrick bought the table. On our drive home, the kids were asking, “Why did you buy a broken table?” I was wondering the same thing.

Patrick spent a couple weeks pouring his time and crafty skills into reinforcing the structure of the table. He lined the underneath with thick pieces of wood, providing a solid structure that could withstand the tests of little humans. Set up in our garage, with each of our kids taking turns helping him, Patrick sanded, painted and distressed, and sealed the table. When we set it up in the kitchen, the crack was still visible, but now seemed to fit in as a perfectly imperfect characteristic of this now beautiful farmhouse family table.

My memoir, Over My Shoulder, reminds me of the cracked table still being used in our kitchen. My picture and name are on the cover, but the pieces used for stable reinforcement, structure and stability have been provided by a team of people who helped me to accomplish something I could not have accomplished on my own. The story reveals many scars, or cracks, and each person contributed in a way that allows those ‘Tattoos of Survival’ to portray more something more beautiful.

One week after Patrick completed the table, our five year old daughter joyfully marked up her spot with a purple sharpie marker. I spent hours trying to remove the stains. I felt annoyed at her, and angry at myself for caring so much about a $10 table. Then I realized…this table Patrick had recreated was so much more than that. This was the table that would hold all of our family meals, where joys and sorrows would be discussed, where games would be played, where guests would be hosted. The purple stains were simply another perfect imperfection added to the cracked table; one of many imperfections added over the years that serve as reminders of all the life lived at our family farmhouse table.

I’m going to list the team of people who participated in the creation of Over My Shoulder, and I would love to hear from you in the comments below…what is one of your favorite perfectly imperfect pieces?

Thank you for helping with the manuscript: Karen Booker Schelhaas, Anita Mumm, Stuart Horowitz, and Grace Kastens. Krista Rolfzen Soukup, publicist. Brian Smith, web designer. 1106 Design, cover design.

Greg Ruegsegger, Dad and editing contributor.

 

“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.” ~Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha