June 7th, 2003 was hands down, the best day of my entire life.
Sure, witnessing both of my girls being born was absolutely amazing. Those days are definitely tied for the second best day of my life. However, nothing will ever touch the best day. It was on that day that my best friend and the love of my life (Monica) and I started our journey together. It was on that day that our family officially began.
In the movie Meet the Parents, Kevin widdles an altar (or “huppah” for my Jewish friends reading this) by hand from one piece of wood. He did this so Robert and Debra could “meet beneath it to become man and wife”. Thanks to Sam’s Club, no one had to widdle our altar. Like Kevin, Monica and I shared the same “sappy, romantic idea” that after we were married it would grace our garden.
While we did not have a garden, we followed through on that idea and it graced our back yard for almost 12 years. However, as you can see, we put absolutely zero work in caring for or maintaining it. We just plopped it down in the grass and let the elements weather away at it. Subconsciously, we knew it was becoming an eye sore and due to the wood rot at the base, probably a safety hazard too. Regardless, we did not talk about it. That is, until we decided to buy a new house.
After we made an offer on the new house and it was accepted, I was staring at the arbor out the kitchen window and I asked THE question. Deep down inside, I knew it was like taking a swing at that rickety, wood rotted, bird poop covered arch with the Grim Reaper’s sickle, “what are we going to do with the arbor when we move?” Monica said, “we are not taking it with us”. Heck, even if we wanted to, I doubt it would even survive a move. We gave each other a big hug and stared at it out the kitchen window like it was a pet that we knew had to be put down.
Then an idea hit me in the skull like a power punch from
Floyd Mayweather Mike Tyson. You see, I am not an everyday romantic type of guy. I really wish I was. God knows my wife deserves it and I could definitely try a lot harder. I am a man that believes in grand gestures. So when I get the itch to be romantic, out comes what family members called me when I was little, “Romance Lance”. Yeah yeah, laugh it up.
So with nothing more than an idea, I grabbed some tools and headed to the back yard. I took down the arbor piece by piece.
Once all the wood was in the garage, I started playing Tetris to see if my idea was even possible.
I used an electric belt sander and an electric hand planer and was amazed at how well the wood cleaned up. This thing still had life!!! Then, instead of carving my creation from a single piece of wood like Kevin from Meet the Parents, I glued a bunch of wood together to make a single piece of wood.
My idea started taking shape.
After playing some more Tetris, I finally had the beginnings of what looked like a real table top.
I finished the bottom with stain and polyurethane. I bought a pedestal base from unfinishedfurnitureofwilmington.com, painted it and attached it to the bottom of the table.
Then I started working on finishing the top.
I am not a carpenter and I have never made a piece of furniture before. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. It would have been much easier to toss the arbor in the garbage. Making it beautiful again took a tremendous amount of work. I felt like I bit off more than I could chew and I wanted to give up multiple times but…
The arbor was worth having and was worth working for. As we continue on our journey at the new house, we will be able to sit, chat, eat and pray together at this table. The very place where it all began.
During this project I had a lot of time to think about the things that are important to me such as my family, my career, the people I work with, etc. This project reminded me that we cannot allow our preconceived beliefs, fears or anything else for that matter hold us back from working for the things that we know in our hearts are worth working for. Sometimes things that do not appear to be salvageable, are indeed salvageable. Sometimes things that used to be beautiful, can end up being even more beautiful. Sometimes things that appear to be failing, do not have to fail.
We have to ask ourselves, “is this worth having?” If yes, we should ask ourselves, “did I put in the work or as much work as I possibly could?” If no, there are only two options:
1) keep working 2) give up
Just keep in mind that no one ever says, anything in life worth having is worth giving up on.