I Cried When My Son Carved into my Furniture
(but not for the reason you think)
When he was 10, Jordan launched a 2-foot-tall rocket in the middle of my kitchen, embedding it into my 18’ ceiling.
When Jordan was eight, he rigged fishing line around his room from the door to the light switch so his light would turn off when we opened the door to check on him at night, and back on when we closed the door. It took us days to discover how the light we swore we saw emanating from under his door was actually off when we opened the door to find him sound asleep across the room.
When he was six, Jordan’s little sister got a bike for her birthday. It came in a box and Jordan begged me to help him put it together. It was too complicated for me, so I told him he had to wait until his dad got home to help assemble it. When Jason got home, Jordan proudly proclaimed, “Look Dad! I put Kennadi’s bike together all by myself, and there aren’t even any leftover pieces like when you put stuff together!”
Needless to say, we spent Jordan's childhood on our toes. Those years also included a lot of mischief that I’ve blessedly managed to forget so as not to go crazy over the crazy. Take, for example, the time he carved his name into a piece of furniture my in-laws handed down to us when we got married. I know exactly when it happened, not because I recall the incident itself, but because Jordan managed to include the date in his carving. Perhaps I saw the carving when it happened and I was too busy digging a rocket out of my ceiling to worry about it. Perhaps I saw it and figured the chest was old and it didn’t really matter. Regardless, I have no recollection of losing my s$#t over the incident, and I’m glad, because I may have tried to fix the damage or, worse, gotten rid of the chest all together.
Why, if I don’t even recall the carved furniture incident happening, would I cry over it years later?
In early 2015, we moved. Jason was working long hours, so much of the packing and cleaning was left to me. I was only two months into the deepest grief I’ve ever known, and I didn’t want to move. I was exhausted and sad, and I’d avoided packing Jordan’s room as long as I could. I hadn’t opened his door in weeks, and I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotions I knew would greet me when I did. His bed, his clothes, his books and his “stuff” lay just as they had weeks before—much of it on top of the chest I didn’t remember he’d carved into. As I cleared off Jordan’s things, there was his “carving” in all it’s glory, and it was EVERYTHING I needed in that moment.
When Jordan was 20, he died unexpectedly two days before Christmas.
He is our only son, sandwiched between three sisters. The grief at the time was beyond description. In many ways, it still is. Hence, the reason this post about “fixing” damage your kid carves into your furniture has taken me years to write.
Though the chest had new and everlasting meaning with it's custom "Jordan Ryan Smith 2008" carved into the top, it’s style was still dated for my taste. So, it moved with us twice over the years, but never found a place of prominence in my home.
Six years after Jordan's death, it was time...
To “address the chest.” It was one of the sweetest, most tender experiences I’ve had refinishing furniture.
It’s funny how refinishing a piece of furniture that has meaning can actually bring MORE meaning and connection with loved ones—even when the piece has damage or “life experience.” Perhaps the life the piece has experienced is what brings the extra meaning. I found myself imagining the little boy treasures the drawers had held, wondering what Jordan was thinking when he carved his name—what was he thinking when I discovered the carving? Was he watching from heaven? I think he was. I felt him say “I’m still with you, see?”
As I contemplated how to refinish the chest, I felt Jordan with me over each decision—the color, how to handle the engraving, should I swap the drawer pulls? Did I imagine him saying, “don’t go with my favorite color, red, go with YOURS so we can both be part of this!” or did his whisper really cross the veil from heaven to my earthly ears?
Iremoved the drawers and doors then very gently cleaned the carved area so I could remove some of the old peeling finish and still keep the carving. Then, I carefully taped this special area off.
Ifilled the original drawer pull holes and my husband drilled new holes to fit the gold pulls I'd chosen. I felt Jordan’s presence every step of the way.
I Always add BB Frösch Paint Transformer
- No Prep. Paint Transformer makes paint stick so you don't have to prime, strip or sand first. Just clean and start painting. This is a HUGE time saver for me!
- Unlimited Colors. Add to any color of paint, the brand doesn't matter. For this project, I chose Benjamin Moore Van Duesen Blue.
- Coverage. Not only does paint transformer give paint incredible coverage (this piece required just two coats), it helps the paint self-level for a gorgeous, smooth finish.
- Affordable. Mix up only as much paint as you need for a project. I had a quart of my favorite color on hand--this project only used a cup of it (mixed with just 2 tablespoons of paint transformer.)
As I mixed the powder I’d created with the beautiful navy paint I'd chosen for this project, I contemplated the journey my life had taken since Jordan’s death. Although I had developed the paint transformer shortly before Jordan died, refinishing furniture had been mostly a hobby at the time, and the powder was mainly for my own purposes. Had Jordan seen what the little jar of powder had become? A full-blown company that has changed our family’s lives in profound ways? As soon as I wondered, I felt Jordan grin and say, “Not only do I know all about it, I helped facilitate it all the way from heaven.”
You can see how incredible the coverage was after just one coat. After the second coat dried, I did a quick smoothing pass with 400 grit sandpaper. This is my secret weapon for a buttery smooth finish.
Once the finish was buttery smooth, and just the way I wanted it, I used BB Frösch Clear Premium Finishing Wax to protect it. If you don't seal your work, the paint will still cure, but scratches, water damage, etc. can happen, and no one wants that!
- Easy Application. Though you can use a polyurethane to seal and protect your work, I feel like wax is easier to apply. It's as easy as wax on, remove the excess and buff to desired sheen.
- Quick Cure Time. Unlike many brands that can take weeks to dry and cure, BB Frösch Premium Finishing wax dries and cures in minutes. It's nice to be able to show off and use my refinished furniture right away!
Then, I removed the blue tape that had been covering the border around the top, taped off the freshly painted inset, and used dark wax to highlight + seal Jordan’s carving. I never imagined loving damage so much I would want to show it off!
Since refinishing the chest, my mother-in-law, who owned it before us and before Jordan, also passed away. I think she is pleased with the makeover. I don’t know if she loves the new color and drawer pulls, but I’m pretty sure she’s happy that I highlighted Jordan’s “love letter” carving while adding a piece of my own heart to the rest of the stories the chest holds. I picture her with her arm around Jordan, giving him a squeeze and saying “Look what she did with our chest.
I could search the world over and never find a nightstand as beautiful, meaningful and perfect as this:
Are you ready to transform your own furniture hand-me-downs? It's a easy as clean, mix, paint, protect! BB Frösch has everything you need to make it easy and affordable.
Products Used for this Project
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