My footstool, however, not only remains, but is still in daily use.
I don’t recall how old I was when it was given to me, but I don’t think I could have been more than four or five.
My grandmother painted it, and I seem to recall some other family member—a great uncle perhaps—had built it years before. So it wasn’t new when I got it, only newly painted with my name and one of my favourite animals. I doubt Grandma ever suspected I’d grow up to get a master’s degree in entomology (and chances are she wouldn’t have encouraged it had she suspected). But I was clearly already headed that way as a preschooler.
I remember using the stool as a table, back when my legs fit neatly underneath it. I remember setting up tea parties on it, doing artwork on it, turning it upside down and pretending it was a boat, setting it on its side to form a battlement for some imaginary fortress.
When I was a teen, it served to give me access to the top shelf in my closet and as a handy homework table.
The stool moved with me when I left home. My husband has employed it in the bottling of beer, and my kids remember standing on it to work at the kitchen counter or workshop bench. Today, I’m the only one in the family who still needs a footstool, but it continues to come in handy as a low computer stand for those of us who like to work on the floor.
After more than fifty years, the footstool is as solid as ever, and just as functional as it was the day it was built. The paint is sadly worn, gone completely from the often-banged edges and corners.
But someday, when I can no longer sit cross-legged on the floor to work on the computer, perhaps I’ll repaint it for one of my grandchildren, so it can have another life as a boat, battlement and art table.