An old pine dresser sits quietly against my bedroom wall. Its humble early American design shows signs of wear and tear from years of moving house to house, city to city, and state to state. The original deep maple color has long since faded, along with the luster it once so proudly displayed. Gracefully aging, the shiny brass drawer handles have slowly changed to beautiful amber gold, and the graffiti of random scratches tells stories of those who have welcomed its presence. The six sturdy drawers, three on each side, continue to function like the day it first arrived in our humble home.
My parents purchased this stout, but simple dresser in the late 1960’s; a decision that surely cost a pretty penny. The chest of drawers claimed its place in my parents’ small bedroom next to a king-size bed. My siblings and I excitedly gave our “oohs” and “ahhs” at seeing such a grand piece of furniture. In the top right drawer my mother would store her carefully folded undergarments leaving just enough space in the front to hold a very special wooden jewelry box lined with velvet. One of my fondest memories is when she would lovingly take out the box and carefully place it on her bed. With close supervision she would allow me to hold and even try on each exquisite piece.
It became a special mother-daughter ritual that made me feel like a beautiful princess, and not a gawky little girl whose knees and elbows were scraped from climbing trees and riding bikes.
After a few short minutes and with great satisfaction, I would quietly let my mother return her jewelry to its velvety bed, and slip the box back into its special place in her drawer.
There are those who want me to refurbish the dresser’s shabby appearance. “Why don’t you paint it and replace the hardware”, my daughters ask me, “It would look brand new and liven up your bedroom.” I agree that it looks somewhat battered, and certainly a little sad to those who only look at its exterior.
But my eyes see something more—a beautiful 46 year-old family friend who has lived life right beside me.
Though gently seasoned, it was the only real piece of furniture my first husband and I acquired as young newlyweds. I immediately claimed the three drawers on the right just like my mother, and let him fill up the drawers on the left. We shared our dresser over the next 14 years until my husband’s untimely passing at the young age of 33 years-old. I was then left with three large empty drawers whose hollowness mirrored my broken heart.
To my surprise, it was not long until I met someone new to love, someone whom I could envision spending my life with, and someone who could fill those three drawers once again. It has been 22 years since I remarried, and the dresser stands proudly in our bedroom as it continues to age with dignity and grace. Maybe I will refinish it this summer and give it a brand new look, a brand new life. Then again, maybe I won’t. After all, with age comes new type of beauty and wisdom that should be appreciated and not camouflaged. Yes, I believe my dresser is going to stay exactly as it is. My good friend and I are growing old together, and we have plenty of stories to share. Now why would I want to change that?
“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” ― Robert Browning