Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blue day for the blue chair

Nearly two decades ago, when Andrew's father came to live with us, we purchased a blue recliner. It was not my favorite piece of furniture, but Dad was housebound and watched TV most of the day, and he needed a comfortable place to sit.

When Dad died, mere days after Eldest was born, the recliner became part of the general pool of furniture. And when we moved to our present apartment sixteen years ago, the "blue chair" took up residence in our bedroom near the window overlooking the river. In the evenings the kids would snuggle in to hear bedtime stories. Sometimes, when a child was sick, he or she would set up camp and sleep there.

Our friend Ms. Dober reading to Eldest (6),
Big Guy (4) and Dancer (2) in the blue chair
It was pretty ratty. There were holes in the arms, and the arms kind of slid around. I suspect that somewhere in the chair's innards are the half-digested remains of Andrew's missing house keys, not to mention a goodly amount of spare change. If we had a furniture budget, the recliner would have been replaced five years ago. But we don't, so it stayed.

In the past 18 months, Andrew has practically lived in that chair. He worked from it, job-hunted from it, and surfed the internet in it. And slowly the blue chair completely and totally collapsed. It was awful. Ugly. Broken. Dead. Not to mention that the hardwood floor under it was scratched badly, and the radiator beside it unredeemably dinged.

The other day I thought of a way to re-arrange our bedroom that would allow us to remove and dispose of the blue chair. It was actually a workable idea, and so Andrew and Big Guy hauled the broken remains of the recliner out of the apartment. At which point Little Guy broke down in hysterical tears. That evening when Snuggler came home from school she discovered the loss and was a wreck, too.

Oh, dear. I grew up moving just often enough that I thought of home as the place my family was, rather than as a specific house. I did have favorite pieces of furniture; there was a wingback chair where I read a lot, and I liked the ladderback dining room chairs. But I'm not a person who forms particular attachments to things. Rearranging the house or tossing something that's in tatters has never bothered me. I can look at the blue chair and say, "Well done!" and feel no qualms about the fact that the poor thing's days are over.

But my children are not me, and their emotional landscape is different than mine. They have a genetic tendency toward being packrats, inherited primarily from their father (though I think my own father still owns the leather jacket he wore in high school). They do not want to discard anything.

I held Little Guy (and later Snuggler) for a long time, trying my best to provide comfort. Snuggler wailed, "You don't understand what it's like!" She is right, of course. And then again, she isn't. I do understand what loss is. I also understand that we all have to learn to let go and move on, treasuring people and experiences and even a few things in our hearts.

I am sure that, with time, my children will adapt to having Mom and Dad's room look different. And I am sure that, with time, I will adapt to having offspring whose way of looking at the world is different than mine. And maybe next time I will plan ahead, so the change won't seem quite so sudden.


  1. Ms Dober!!! I guess the only way I will ever get to see her again is through old pictures on your blog!

  2. My older son had the same reaction when I disposed of a ratty chair. He exclaimed in horror (at age 6) "But that was my decompression center!" :( Sigh! I hope he's not scarred for life!

    1. Dear Miss Julia, I am so glad to have shared in a small part of your past time. I am a grandmother now of 15 and one on the way. I treasure my grands. I get to enjoy some of those famous phrases as you when they come to sleep over. My 8 year old wanted to start a book club and we read on demand a lot at first. We don't do it as a group much. I do notice the books are stacking up as they come to visit. They unload their backpacks and leave the books at my house. I am an unknown writer to myself of poems or free thoughts of inspiration. I have not been writing much lately, I keep up with the Guidepost book at my job. I do enjoy reading all the writers daily devotions. They are so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.