Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Saying Goodbye Was Harder Than I Expected

I remember the first investment piece I bought. I was twelve years old.

I had a grand vision for my bedroom, but my budget was pretty limited--babysitting in the early 80s didn't pay nearly what it pays today. I knew I had to keep my brown dresser (which I liked) and my orange bookshelf (which I didn't). In those days before Pinterest and, Kmart was my go-to inspiration place, mostly because I could ride my bike there if I got permission. While roaming the aisles one day, I found it--a 100% polyester full-size bedspread, printed with brown and yellow flowers on a white synthetic-shiny background. This would be just the thing to tie together all of my stuff. I couldn't wait to get it home, make my bed in the fancy way--pillows under the bedspread and tucked carefully around to emphasize their place at the head of the bed, with a small blue flannel pillow in the center made by my brother to fulfill the dual purpose of Christmas gift and scouting requirement. I was proud. It was beautiful.

I have made do with hand-me-down pieces and thrift store finds most of my life, but I will never forget the first real investment pieces we bought for our family--twin tan chenille couches with matching sets of navy and red throw pillows. We were struggling with infertility at the time, and I was desperate for something to fill the void in my life. Between the time we ordered them and the day they were delivered, I had discovered that I was pregnant with Lily Jane. It was a good day.

Those two Rowe couches survived everything. Three different houses--one room was barn red, one was butter yellow, and the third a handpicked greige in our dream home. So many different decorating schemes. I don't know how many combinations of throw pillows have lived shorter lives than these couches. Boys jumping and wrestling and building forts. The couches weathered my traditional, shabby chic, and transitional moods with ease. I never tired of their classic lines, their color, or their fabric. Even after sixteen years of the hardest use furniture could be expected to withstand, that upholstery looked great. The pieces did rattle when moved around--pens, pencils, Legos, Goldfish, errant coins, and small toys had found entrance but no escape from the dark recesses inside.

Two years ago, Brad was wrestling with Ben and when the two of them landed on the couch, the frame broke. That couch was placed on the curb and quickly found a new home somewhere in the Valley of the Sun. I didn't think much of it then.

I held onto its twin as long as I could. On occasion, I would long for a new couch, but when I looked for a replacement, I never found anything I liked better. 

Then, it happened. 

Sometime in June, the frame of the remaining couch also buckled under the extreme living conditions that are the Denton Sanatorium.

I don't know who or how or what, but the couch was no longer salvageable. Every time visitors would sit on it, I would warn them that the middle would suck them in and escape would be difficult. Some took my warnings to heart, others tempted fate and learned the ugly truth for themselves as they grunted, struggled, then begged for assistance to stand. I told Brad that it really was time to replace the couch, and he balked for a few months, traveled around Asia for a while, thought about it some more, until I finally convinced him that it was time. A new couch was ordered, and we waited.

But it wasn't easy taking that couch to the curb. When the kids left for school on the day of delivery, I told them a new couch would come while they were gone. Hyrum, panic on his face, asked, "What are you going to do with this couch? I LOVE this couch!" I told him I was giving it away, and that offended him. Deeply. "Mom, you should AT LEAST sell it! Like for $50. It's worth a lot."

Didn't know he had such an attachment to the couch, because $50 in his eyes is a ton of money.
I could hardly look as it sat there on the curb, one arm cover lost and the other naked and lonely, begging someone to take it home and love it. I felt like I was giving away something precious--not one of my children, more like a beloved family pet. Instead of leaving it there alone on the curb, rejected and dejected, I pinned a sign to its shoulder, like a mom sitting at the grocery store surrounded by melancholy children and a cardboard box full of mewing kittens:
FREE to a good home

Sixteen years of our family room memories centered around that couch. The perfect napping couch. The perfect nursing couch. The perfect story-reading couch. The perfect snuggling couch. The perfect TV watching couch. The perfect fort-building couch. The perfect scripture reading couch. The perfect family couch.

I left the couch on the curb and returned a few hours later.

It was gone.


  1. I need to find a couch I feel this way about. I can't wait to say goodbye to our couch.