In 1990, my mom closed the crafts shop she’d owned for 20 years and took a job as a salesperson at Rhodes Furniture in Greensboro. She’d never sold furniture before,
In 1990, my mom closed the crafts shop she’d owned for 20 years and took a job as a salesperson at Rhodes Furniture in Greensboro. She’d never sold furniture before, and it was the first time she’d worked for someone else since waitressing as a teenager in the ’60s. It had to have been hard, a change like that, but my mom embraced it.
Rhodes carried several North Carolina-manufactured lines of furniture — Broyhill, Klaussner, Thomasville, Kincaid — but my mom’s favorite was the Bob Timberlake collection, then made by Lexington Furniture. She was drawn to the Arts and Crafts style, which complemented the antiques already in our house, and my dad loved the look, too. When the Timberlake Gallery opened in Lexington in the mid-’90s, my parents were some of the first people at the opening. They made a day of it, having lunch at the Bar-B-Q Center, popping into the shops on Main Street, and picking up a bag of Red Bird Sticks at The Candy Factory to eat in the car on the way home. They spent their afternoon browsing furniture.
At the showroom, my mom swooned over a solid cherry poster bed, so rich and warm, and with her earnings from her new job, she bought it. After years of sleeping on my great-grandmother’s handed-down wrought-iron bed, my parents were excited to bring home something new, something that belonged to them alone.
She kept working, driving from Asheboro to Greensboro every day, putting in hours on holidays and weekends, and when she could afford more, she bought more — adding nightstands, a gentleman’s chest of drawers, a pottery hutch in the dining room. My dad accompanied her on every trip, and Lexington became their place: lunch together, shops on Main Street, candy or ice cream at the end of the day.
I’ve thought of the two of them often when I travel around North Carolina — how my dad, with his artistic eye, loved to look at window displays; how my mom, with her furniture knowledge, could spot a good antique; how they both had a sweet tooth and ended the day with a treat. I never went along with them; those days belonged to them alone.
A couple of months ago, for my birthday, my mom and I took a trip to Blowing Rock. It was a beautiful day for walking, and we spent our time shopping on Main Street, admiring the window displays. We picked up a slice of fudge from Kilwins to share on the ride home. For a moment, I got a glimpse of how my mom and dad must’ve spent their days together.
For lunch, we headed over to Chetola Resort, to Timberlake’s Restaurant. My mom had never been there, and, well, I wish you could’ve seen her face when we walked in. The restaurant is filled with that Timberlake furniture so familiar to her, tables and chairs in the same solid oak and cherry that she’d filled our house with. I could see how much it reminded her of the beautiful home that she and my dad had created.
We chose a table next to the fireplace, overlooking the lake. My mom pointed to the wooden beams on the ceiling — “just like what we had in our den,” she reminded me, her voice carrying her back to another place.
We ate our fish-and-chips and watched the resident swans, the male and the female named Moses and Bertha, the ones who’ve settled here on this beautiful lake, a place that seems to belong to them alone.
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