Just inside the front door of my house, partnered with an antique writing desk, is a red leather wing chair. The seat is more than a little bit saggy. There is a large slash in the leather on one side of the chair. Many of the upholstery tacks that trace its contours are scratched, or have their once-shiny surfaces worn away.
To you, it’s probably just an old chair.
To me, it’s a piece of family history, and it’s a symbol of home.
Actually it’s a symbol of a lot of things. Having this chair in my house is one of the things that draws me back to reality when I’ve been living too much inside my head. It’s a tangible reminder that while I’m still, always, my mother’s daughter, I’m no longer anyone’s child.
You wouldn’t think I’d need a reminder of that, but every so often I have this disconnect, where I feel like Fuzzy and I aren’t really adults staring defiantly into the fast approaching face of fifty, but twenty-somethings in some off-kilter version of ‘playing house.’
But this chair is more than that.
This chair is where my grandfather sat and held me when I cried, or bounced me on his knee to make me giggle, or read endless stories to me. (He didn’t do all the voices, but you could hear the joy in his voice whenever he read to me – or to any child.)
This is the chair that served as a cave for me to hide in, a sheltered lumber yard for Tinker Toys, and a depot for the model trains that my grandfather collected, and taught me to love almost as much as he did.
In my head, this red chair is always positioned next to the drop-leaf table in my grandmother’s living room, the great picture window behind it, the couch across from it, and the table full of African violets to its right (if you’re facing it).
In my memories, my grandfather is still sitting in that chair, feet firmly planted on the ground, back supported by the chair, the latest issue of Newsweek or Model Railroader in his hand. In my mind’s eye, I can see the cotton button-down shirts he always wore, the white undershirt peeking out at the collar. I remember his sturdy work-shoes and the smell of his aftershave, and the way, if you complimented him, he would get this smug look on his face and say, “I’m a pretty kid.”
At some point, the red chair came to live with us – first with my mother, and later with me. I don’t remember the circumstances of its relocation. I only know I’m glad to have it.
I don’t sit in it very often. The desk it partners is more a catch-all for mail than an actual workspace. But it feels right to have it in my house, and sometimes, when the sun is at an oblique angle and the shadows are just so, I feel like my grandfather is still there, in his chair, waiting to read me a story.
(In memory of my grandfather, Edward F. Klindienst.)
- The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
- Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
- Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.
Or, you can leave a comment on this post.