Family Benches

Two weeks before the 4th of July holiday, I received a request for a custom bench that was needed the beginning of July for a family gathering on the shores of Lake St. Catherine.

I usually steer clear of rush orders for my own sanity. But then the customer told me why he needed them so fast.  Earlier this year they lost their brother, and they always gather twice a year at their house in Vermont as a family.  He wanted the bench to be a surprise for his family and something symbolic for them as they gather around the fire pit at night.  I knew it wasn’t something I’d pass on.  We quickly agreed on a design for two matching benches out of a beautiful slab of cherry and I got to work.

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Not knowing this family or the property it would be going on, I went with my instinct. I had no idea the patriarch of the family was a woodworker when I decided on plugs. Going with my gut on how to attach the legs to the bench top paid off. IMG_8320.jpg

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I asked him if he’d like anything wood burned into the benches since they were symbolic for the family. At that point, he informed me that the second bench was in memory of his mother, who also had passed away. Both benches were a surprise for the family.

By now, there was a quiet reverence (and a lump in my throat) while I worked in the shop on these. I felt humbled and honored and grateful to be commissioned to create these.

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As many of my own family memories were of us gathering in Vermont twice a year around a campfire, not far from where this order was delivered, I know how cherished, chaotic, unpredictable, and precious that time together is.

The brother tells his story best:

“Our family is originally from Long Island. In 1996, my mom and dad moved off of Long Island and my dad had the log cabin built in Vermont. The outside of the house was built by a company, but my dad did many of the inside walls and floors. Everything is custom, from the walnut pegs in the floor to the the cabinets to the mantle piece over the fireplace. My dad also built both the horse barn and the huge garage on the property.
A few years after we had settled in Vermont, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in the winter of 2000. My mom and dad have 10 kids. They had 7 of their own and then adopted three (all related) and we have made a point to get together at the house in Vermont 2x a year as a whole family. We usually do 1x in the summer and 1x in December.
This past fall we lost our oldest brother John from complications after having a stroke. He has 3 boys. In total we have about 30 immediate family members stay the weekend with us each time we get together. The summer weekend is usually spent down at the state park, boating, swimming and canoeing. We typically will fill the winter weekend with tubing and sledding, too much food and great conversations. The 14 grandkids all get along and catch up playing games and hang out. It really is a great time. 
We usually will end the night at the fire pit that these benches will be around now. The view from the lake is amazing and we are able to laugh and share stories with each other. Hopefully the benches allow for us to at least feel like our mom and brother John are with us. I appreciate you taking the time and care to put these together.”
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(Their dad thought that the benches were too nice to keep out by the fire pit, so they are now in the family room where the family gathers together in winter.)

 

To this family…thank YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Mel

My name is Mel, and I split my time living, working and playing in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern Vermont. I'm a reclaimed wood artist who loves to continually find ways to repurpose wood and give it new life. "Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs" is my business dedicated to doing that! Thanks for stopping by!
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