When parents down-size and elderly relatives pass away, stuff gets scattered and settles into the homes of different family members. Pretty much every room in my house contains something that originally came from someone else’s house, from the lamp and mirror in my office to the china cabinet in the dining room. Once in awhile someone in the family, someone who has been over a bazillion times, will say, “Hey, didn’t that (fill-in-the-blank) used to be in (fill-in-another-blank)’s house?”
Last week we were gathered at my sister’s for Easter dinner. We’ve all been there a bazillion times. This time, a group of siblings were dining in the music room. It’s not like we’ve never been in the music room; we just never ate there before. Someone looked toward the corner of the room and noticed the chair.
“Hey, look, it’s The Chair.”
Lo and behold, there was The Chair that used to be in the living room of our home before our parents downsized to a condo, oh, twenty years ago. It’s been in my sister’s house ever since. Somehow we had never paid any attention to it until this very moment.
The Chair, in its pre-redo floral slipcovered days, was the setting for one of my earliest memories. My mother sat in it holding my brand new baby sister. My brothers and I sat on the sofa waiting our turn to come meet her. I, at age four the eldest of four , went first. Then my three year old brother came forward, followed by my two year old brother, and finally my one year old brother, who promptly slapped baby sister in the face. That’s why it’s one of my earliest memories. Who’d forget a scene like that?
The Chair. You’d think we had only had one chair in our house, the way we preface it with a definite article.
One of the in-laws commented, “It’s in such great shape. Did Theresa have it redone?”
“Oh, no,” we replied. “It’s in great shape because no one ever sat in it.”
Why did no one ever sit in it? Because it had been redone. Of all the pieces that my parents gained when my grandparents downsized, The Chair was one piece that my mother actually had reupholstered. The other pieces (two golden-clad loveseats come to mind) were adopted and used to death. I’m guessing that those were the pieces my mother hated and wanted desperately to replace. The loveseats must have been really good furniture, though, because it took seven kids years to destroy them. The Chair, however, reupholstered in white (what was my mother thinking?), was now new and was not to be soiled by our grimy little bodies.
So we did not sit in it.
Well, ok, sometimes we sat in it. On rare occasions. So rare, that people piped up with stories about The Chair.
One sister-in-law: “I sat in the chair once holding Danny when he was a baby.” (Danny is now in his late twenties.)
The Chair figured prominently in some stories about wooing spouses. In the one story that I dare share, my brother-in-law told my sister he loved her for the first time in The Chair. She tried to re-enact it. She made him sit in the chair. She sat in his lap.
“We were sitting in this chair the first time you told me you loved me.”
“Well, you did it in sign language.”
Every sibling then sat in the chair and we took photos. Proof that we had sat in The Chair. And now I remember the biggest reason we didn’t sit in The Chair. It’s not that comfortable.