Why I love antiques

Making the new couch at home
I’ve been scouring Craigslist since moving into the new and much bigger house. We have a lot more space to fill up and we’re doing it on a strict budget, so my Craigslist mojo has come in handy once again. I’ll show off my finds later this week, but for today I had to tell you the story of this gorgeous couch. 8 ft’ long, original upholstery in impeccable condition from the 60’s, and we got it for 80$. We had to pack Atti off to a friends house for the day while we drove 2 hours each way to claim it, but it was still worth it.

Once Atti was safely off playing, we jumped in the van to discover that the battery was dead. AAA came and sorted us out and then, an hour later than we planned on, we made our way down to a small agricultural town. The owner was so understanding and had even shampooed the couch for us, her husband helped Bear load it in the car, and then they both helped us turn it and reposition and experiment until we managed to get the full 8 feet in and get the back shut.

Before we left she asked if I would meet her mother, Agnes. The couch belonged to her and she wanted to meet the person taking it away. Agnes is 98 years old and about to enter a nursing home. This couch was one of her last remaining possessions and it was hard for her to let go of it. I can only imagine. Curling up with your spouse as you watch T.V., watching your children cruise along it taking their first steps, story time, parties, visits with friends and families, a couch is a pretty integral part of family life. I took her hand and assured her that I would take good care of it, and we went to leave. Only to discover that our car battery had died. Again.

But before we could call AAA, Agnes’s daughter Bernadette came to our rescue. She drove Bear to Autozone to buy a new battery, pulled out all her tools, and painstakingly taught him all about a car’s electrical system, how to change a battery, and how to know when the problem was more than a battery.

While Bernadette and Bear handled the car, I sat in the tree shaded back patio with Agnes while she told me about her life growing up on a dairy farm. She was expected to pull her weight as much as her brothers and she got so good at farm chores that her father started calling her “Tony,” because she was just like one of the boys. She milked the cows by hand, had her own saddle horse that she used to follow her father all through the foothills, and when the town had their 4th of July parade she would dress her horse up and ride proudly down main street. She raised four children in a little house in a small town and took care of this couch like it was her prized possession.

Bernadette had assumed that I was from a consignment shop, since that’s most of my Craigslist competition, and Agnes was so relieved when I told her that this couch was for our own house. That I had a room full of books this couch was going to nestle up to and Atti and I were going to spend our days snuggled up together and reading story after story. That this couch was so long that tall people like me and Bear were going to take long Sunday naps on it while Atti played with his cars at our feet. That our kitties would curl up on it and adopt it as their own.

With the new battery in place thanks to help from Bernadette, we climbed in the car to leave. Agnes tearfully waved as she said, “Goodbye, couch.” With Bear working in elder care, we’re well acquainted with the agonizing change a loss of independence brings. Objects matter then, a token of all the life behind us. Often the memories are gone or confused, but the object provides the anchor. It’s a symbol of all the things time takes with it – memories, love, relationships, people. I rode the whole way home laying on that couch, feeling the warmth of all the years of love Agnes and her family embedded in the stuffing and springs, and carrying in my heart the bittersweet trust we’ll all eventually have to find someday, as we face the generation behind us and turn the world over to them.

I’ll be good to it, Agnes. Thank you for entrusting it to me.