Years ago when I still lived in my hometown of Hackensack, NJ, I acquired a stained glass masterpiece; a window that had been removed from one of the city’s stately mansions demolished to make way for another new high-rise condominium complex along Prospect Avenue with a amazing view of NYC in the distance.
Measuring approximately seven feet long and two feet wide and framed in a species of wood from a tree no longer found in the Northeast I’m told, the window was languishing in a cleared lot next to its twin that had been trampled by a work crew. I was informed of the discarded windows by a friend who worked at a building next to the cleared lot.
Intrigued, I drove my van over to the lot that evening and located the two orphaned windows and left with both. I knew I could salvage what I could from the one that had been nearly destroyed to use for parts for the one that somehow had been spared the tramplers.
At about that time, I had just gotten engaged to Rich who was then living over an hour away at the Jersey Shore. I told him about the window and how I wanted to restore it, but for the time being, I was going to keep both in my parent’s garage on the other side of town.
A few years later, after Rich and I were married, and I’d relocated down to the Jersey Shore, we purchased our first home together in Brick Township in a beautiful wooded waterfront neighborhood across from a creek. And the windows followed, only to be stored once again in our new home’s garage. I remained adamant that the window deserved to be restored, but Rich was not as enthusiastic about the project for some reason I still can’t recall.
Hearing of my desire to resurrect a piece of my hometown history, my mother offered to pay for the window’s restoration as a wedding anniversary gift to us. Now, Rich had no choice as I went about seeking someone who could make that happen. Not long after, I found a woman in town who took on this project.
It was no easy task. The type of lead came material that holds portions of stained glass together was no longer being manufactured and fitting the transplanted stained glass pieces into the restored window was no easy task I was repeatedly informed. Let’s just say it became a more expensive project by the day.
When the repair was complete, Rich stained its wood frame and hung it in the log cabin interior of our home, where it remained until three years later when we made our move southward and you guessed it, the window had to follow.
As some of you know, my father is now in end-stage hospice as I write. My brother John has spent the last ten days here with me, and my mother, and just an hour ago, he left for his return flight back to New York State. However, before he left, I asked him to hang that stained glass window on my freshly painted walls.
For me, continuing to restore and “reframe” my living space in the wake of Rich’s passing a year and a half ago has been therapeutic. In the midst of so much loss over the past five years, it brings me some sense of hope to keep my living space bright and fresh, my personal foundation for restoration. It is also comforting to have a salvaged piece of my past so prominently displayed in my new home, a comforting memory of those years spent growing up in the hills of Hackensack, a special place still prominent in my heart.
Please keep my family in your thoughts. Thank you for your continual support.