Saturday, August 9, 2008

Goodbye Willow bench... hello memories!


Who would think that a very tired willow bench could hold so many memories? When we moved to the mountains of Western NC eleven years ago, this was one of my first purchases made there. I bought it at a flea market from a little old man dressed in overalls, whose name turned out to be Mr. West. He told me how he climbed up the mountains in search for the perfect branches for his furniture, then cut the branches, brought them down from the mountain and into his truck, where they were transported to his workshop where he made beautiful pieces of furniture and flower baskets. He was a very small framed man who didn't look strong enough to do the work he did, but he was very good at it, and made lots of beautiful pieces and sold them at the flea market. Shortly thereafter, I met a little woman who resided at the local nursing home, where I worked. Her named was Mrs. West and she had Alzheimer's Disease. Sure enough, she turned out to be the wife of the little man who made my bench. He would visit her, still dressed in his overalls, which was his everyday attire. I tried to take good care of Mrs. West and frequently tried to comfort her while she was crying for her mama to come get her. She no longer recognized Mr. West and it was difficult for him to visit her. I used to imagine what Mr. and Mrs. West's life had been before she got sick, when they were both healthy and raising their own family. An acquaintance of mine started dating a new man and eventually married him. His name was Mr. West.... yep, the son of Mr. and Mrs. West. They built a beautiful log home across the road from Mr. West's home, which was a very humble little white house, nestled at the foot of the mountain, where he continued to make willow furniture. A few years later, a very special wildlife officer, who worked for my husband, was driving down the road and noticed a truck on the side of the road, piled high with branches in the truck bed. He knew Mr. West and recognized that Mr. West was out replenishing his supply used to make furniture. He then noticed a man in overalls lying on the ground near the truck. Yes, it was Mr. West. He was not breathing and his heart had stopped. The young officer called for help and performed CPR on Mr. West, who did not survive. Mr. West had died, doing what he loved..... making furniture. My willow bench has moved with me four times since I bought it and it now sits under a tree near my back door. It is for decoration only, as it never would sit comfortably, unless it had a nice cushion on it. I inspected it closely today to find that it has rotted over the years and can not endure another move from it's current location. I will let it sit where it is for now, but when we sell our home, the bench will no longer be a part of my life. I have several pictures of my bench, so the memories will always be there..... of Mr. West, his family, and of my special time while living in the mountains of Western NC.

9 comments:

Juri said...

What a lovely bench! The memories that go with it make it so special, too! I love things that are rich with memories...and I would imagine it will be difficult for you to leave that bench behind if you should move again! I really enjoyed visiting your blog!

Juri

Utah Grammie said...

Oh my goodness! What a beautiful story - even though I have tears in my eyes. You MUST take a photo and put it in a frame with your story beneath it! That way, the bench, Mr. West and Mrs. West's lives will live on in your heart & home. Thanks for shaing such a wonderful heritage of gentle souls.
Colleen

The Babysitters Love said...

Okay I've messed up my Sunday make-up now and I have to leave again for church shortly! Please don't sell your house! Your grand babies need to play around Mr. West's bench with baby dolls and dump trucks!

ancient one said...

Was it in Murphy that you bought the bench? Was I with you? I kinda' remember some of this. I bought a twig basket.

I didn't know about the rest of the story, though. You may have told me, but I have forgotten it.

You have had that bench a long time. Isn't it funny how God puts certain people in our lives for different times.

I agree with Colleen. This story needs to be printed out and put with the pictures of your bench.

Kentucky Bound said...

What a beautiful story and what wonderful memories! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Blessings from the creek!

Debbie J. said...

That is a very sweet story. Its amazing what memories we can have based on things like furniture, pets, church, etc. I love the bench. Maybe you can get another one some day and start some new memories with it.

Sandy said...

Loved your story...

Kim said...

What a beautiful and moving story and what sweet memories.

Gypsy Quilter said...

There's a great book out on building willow furniture. I'm sure you can find it on Amazon. Also, the folk school has a class in it. www.folkschool.org

Let me know if you're coming back this way.