There was nothing extraordinary about the coffee table itself—just a solid, old coffee table. Made from quality wood—maple, I suppose—its low-profile accentuated by the curvature of the legs, the coffee table bore signs of age: scratches, nicks, gashes, and bite marks. More significantly, it matched the antique dining room set. Four children, three cats, and six dogs later, the coffee table narrates the story of my family.
A few years back, my brother Brian transformed the coffee table into a work of art. He matted the surface between the raised borders and created a collage of old family photographs. He covered the tableau with two layers of glass: one within the borders, and one covering the entire surface of the table.
I can’t remember exactly when Brian did the collage. It was after my sister Lynne died, after my mom died, but before my father died. When Brian died, the table became mine—along with everything else in the house, and the house for that matter…
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When I moved back into the family home after Brian died, I had the overriding sensation of being trapped, awash in the possessions of my dead family. Whenever it became too overwhelming, my therapist would sarcastically suggest that I wear a changemaker around my waist and devote my life to being the curator of the Kellermann museum. Perhaps these pages I write serve as no more than a museum guide. But I find comfort in having my family around, even if only pictures on a coffee table.