Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Grandma's Rocking Chair

Today, I gave away my grandma's rocking chair. I wasn't supposed to give it away. I was supposed to keep it in the family.


Here's the thing. I don't remember Grandma rocking me in this chair. I remember what it looked like. It was a simple chair with a leather seat with a lion embossed in it. There was a pattern carved in the headboard. It was pretty. And yet already the details are fading. What I do remember is that it was more narrow than I am and when she gave it to me, Grandma warned me not to let anyone too big sit in it.

Well, then.

What do you do with a rocking chair that isn't for someone too big? I could never have rocked Nick in it. I could never have taken comfort by sitting in Mike's lap in it. I could not welcome people to sit down in my home without worrying that if they were 'too big' they might break Grandma's chair. What kind of hospitality is that?

What do you do with a chair like that?

This poor chair sat in the corner downstairs for twenty years, forlorn and abandoned. Sometimes I piled clothes to donate on its seat. There were no joyful memories in Grandma's poor chair. I couldn't even remember where it had stood in her house.

Please don't think this is the only thing my Grandma ever gave me. It isn't. I have many things. I have her china cabinet. I remember standing in front of it in her tiny dining room, looking at the treasures inside. Once in a while, Grandma would take down the ornate key and gently open her china cabinet so I could look at a bowl of marbles, Daddy's red wooden yo-yo, or the blue metal donkey that had a slot in its back for coins. I loved that china cabinet with its curved glass doors. It sits to my left, filled with treasures, my tiny bear from the Smokey Mountains, Daddy's college mug, Mike's great-grandfather's meerschaum pipe in its little case lined with red velvet. When he was small, Nick often stood in front of that china cabinet, begging to look at the treasures that lay within. He is gentle with the key, careful of the glass. That china cabinet will be handed down to him some day with love and memories attached to it.

Today, after twenty years of neglect, I gave Grandma's rocking chair away to a new home, to newlywed friends with an empty house. I might have been able to sell it in Snohomish, but I didn't. I wanted to give it away. I wanted to give it to someone I cared about, someone who might eventually need a rocking chair to rock a tiny baby. They could form memories in that old rocking chair. Grandma's chair now has an opportunity to achieve beauty and love and a sense of family after all these years of sitting alone.

My friend's new bride glowed when she looked at that chair. I told her that it had belonged to my grandma. I wanted to tell her how much my grandma had loved me, but I stopped short. That story is too long to tell.

"We'll take good care of your grandma's chair," she said quietly and I knew it was going to a good home.

It's a good thing I'm not giving away kittens.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment