It’s generally not the ‘things’ we cherish or celebrate, but rather the stories that come with them.
We’ve lived in this place on the east coast of Vancouver Island for the better part of two decades, which is the same amount of time I’ve envisioned a pair of lounge chairs for this particular spot. (no sense moving too fast on things… insert eye-roll) I had been on the hunt for some with a days-gone-by kind of feel that ideally didn’t come from a factory. Used would be even better - there’s already enough stuff in the world and I like the idea of giving things a new life. I finally got more committed to the search and after a few weeks, my mental radar zeroed in on these when I spotted them on Craigslist.
The seller and I made arrangements for the viewing, and as we two stood looking down at them, she told me a story.
“My husband made these.” she began. “In fact, we built this house together and went to GREAT lengths to find and adopt our two children from the other side of the world. We wanted to fill this house with a family. He suddenly passed away five years ago, and it’s been a long road for my teenagers and me. He was a terrific guy who was a fisherman at heart and loved creating things out of wood.”
She showed me his woodworking shop and some of his other creations; all clearly made with love.
“Much to my surprise”, she continued, “I’ve met someone, and he proposed. It’s time for another chapter in our lives, and along with this change comes the difficult decision to sell the house and some other things, like these chairs. I know they’re only ‘things’, but it’s hard to part with them.”
I was there for more than an hour, listening intently to many more layers of a most incredible story. I experienced a whole range of emotions as the story unfolded, with this person I didn't know just one hour earlier.
After hearing their story, these ‘things’ took on a whole new energy for me. As we loaded them into the utility trailer I realized I was no longer the customer, I was the caretaker. I thanked her for taking the time to share this story with me and had a big hug with my new friend before leaving.
That evening the chairs found their resting place in their new home just in time to witness the greatest show on earth. I reached for my camera to capture the scene and sent it to my new friend in hopes she would feel comforted in making this difficult decision, knowing that the resting place for her woodworking / fisherman husband’s labour of love was a front row seat to a place that was near and dear to his heart. “He would be so thrilled.” was her response.
About a month later I received another message from my new friend to say that she had made a canvas from the photo I had sent her, and that it would hang over the fireplace in her new home. And so the story goes...
There are more elements of celebration in this experience than I have fingers and toes. The connection that can happen between strangers, the courage it takes to release...anything, the unintended blessings that come from taking the time to create something, the value of our willingness to share our story with others and be seen...
While we will love the feet-up-time for many, many years to come, to me the story that came with these chairs is the very best part.