It’s strange really. The things we attach ourselves to after a life altering event. In my case, it’s a chair and it has a story. A friend asked me what the story behind the chair was not long ago…so I guess now is as good a time as any to tell it.
Five years ago we moved into this tin mansion on a hill. We had already began to build our “cabin” on our land at the time. Our goal was to build the cabin and pay for it as we went. That way when we moved in, it would be totally paid for free and clear. It was important to Greg and I that we knew it would always be our home.
So, we moved our little family of four into a 22 year old, 14 x 70 foot two bedroom mobile home. We had down-sized big time and had sold most of our furniture. We did have a couch at the time, but not a recliner. Well, everyone knows a man wants a recliner right? Being tight with our money didn’t allow us to go buy a new one, even though Greg would have loved to have had a new one.
It just so happened that a friend of my Aunt Lisa’s was having a big yard sale and she had two matching red recliners for sale. I gave her a crisp one hundred dollar bill and bang…we had ourselves TWO new to us recliners!
We were happy to have those two chairs. They rocked, reclined, and the foot bar stayed up. It was awesome! The only problem we had was that the staples were coming out and the cushions were worn from where the previous owners had sat in them so much. Let’s just say they were less than comfortable if you were going to sit in them for a long period of time.
You can imagine how worn they were after we had them for five years. Pitiful. They were pitiful. One of them got so bad, that we just threw it away. Down to one recliner and you can guess who got to sit in it all the time…bingo. Greg took ownership and we all knew that was his chair.
After he died I had several people who stayed with me for about a month. Every person who sat in that recliner complained of how bad their back hurt and how they felt like they were sitting on bare wood…and they were. Greg and I had talked about going ahead and buying a new one. But, every time we just said let’s wait until we get the house finished before we buy anything. It made sense at the time. We just made do with what we had and he never complained about it. Not once.
Well, needless to say I really didn’t realize how bad the chair was until I began sitting in it for hours at a time. Two weeks after his funeral I was sitting there in his chair and I thought: “This is stupid. I’m sitting here in this pitiful chair hurting to my core. Every person who sits in this thing says its pitiful. Why am I keeping it?” That day I decided to go buy me a new one.
Not just any new one…a specific new one that I knew I loved before I ever bought it. This past June my grandmother was very sick. My sisters, mother, aunts, uncle, and cousins took turns staying with her for weeks in the hospital. When they sent her home with hospice we all stayed at her house with her for a week around the clock. Two nights before she died, my cousins and I picked spots to lie down in the living room. My spot was her recliner.
Me-Maw’s recliner was a brand new Lazy Boy that honestly felt like you were sitting on a cloud when you sat in it. This particular night I remember being so tired that I couldn’t hardly hold my eyes open. I laid that chair all the way back and I slept like a rock. That became my spot the next night too. We all talked about how comfortable the chair was and how we just couldn’t believe it would sleep so good. My Aunt Lisa knew it slept good because she had two just like it at her house. She said that she loved to sleep in hers sometimes too.
After Me-Maw’s funeral, each grandchild got to pick a piece of furniture that they wanted from her house. Naturally, I wanted the recliner right? Wrong. I wanted a bedroom suite for my girls…so my sister got the recliner. I had asked Greg if he wanted it….and I had gone on and on about how good it felt to sit in. He said that he wanted to pick out his own recliner. So, I didn’t ask for it. Typical man for ya, but I didn’t blame him for not wanting another used (although very little) recliner.
Since Greg had decided he didn’t want that chair he had chosen to keep the piece of crap one that we had until the house was finished. The day I decided I was going to buy me a new one I got up early, got dressed, and drove straight to Columbus. My mama and sister were with me. I walked straight in and told my friend Cathy that I wanted this recliner in the dark color. I had it loaded and on the way back to Fayette in less than twenty minutes.
My friend Kyle unloaded it for me. When I sat down in it that first day, I knew I would love this chair for a long, long time. Those days were the “immobile days” for me. I’ve read a lot of books and they all said the same thing: I was in the shock phase of my grief. It was paralyzing. So, all I did for the majority of two months was sit in my chair. When my family finally let me stay by myself I started sleeping in my chair at night.
Sleeping in the bed I shared with him for 16 years just does not work for me anymore. I can’t do it. Now, I sleep in my chair every night and the girls sleep in our bed. For most of the last three months I have sat in my chair all day and slept in it all night. It has become my space. I don’t share it with just anybody. Partially because I’m always in it! But, it’s the only place on this land that he never sat. It’s the only thing that he never touched. It’s the only thing that he really, really wanted. I don’t know why something as simple as a new chair becomes the link from the old life to the new life, but for me it has.
Linnie has struggled with this new sleeping arrangement more than Maggie. She has always slept right up under me. She would start out in her bed and by one or two o’clock each morning she would be in our bed right next to me. I had gotten to where I never even knew she was there most of the time. It’s just how it was and that was ok. The problem now is she wants to come get in the chair with me. So, we had to have a little talk. I told her that I loved her dearly, but she could not sleep in my chair with me anymore. She wanted to know why I didn’t just come get back in the bed and snuggle with her. In an eight-year-old brain it doesn’t make sense why a grown-up would stop sleeping in their bed. I get that…So, we worked out a deal.
Now, instead of her coming into the living room and climbing into the chair with me at one or two o’clock each morning she comes in and gives me a kiss on the cheek and goes back to our bed. It’s the sweetest thing in the world! She needs that physical touch and I love how gently she leans down and kisses me. She doesn’t know that I’m always awake when she comes in. I like for her to think she’s being brave by coming in and going back by herself. It is a big step for her!
The only thing we have disagreed on is the blanket I use to cover up with each night. Both Maggie and Linnie thought they should be able to take this blanket…but they were soooooooooooooo wrong! The blanket I use every night came from Greg’s bed at the fire department. It doesn’t match a single thing in my house and I don’t care. It was his and now its mine.
I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do in a couple of months when we move into the house. I know I’m not taking our bed with me. I may just move my chair into my bedroom and forget about a bed altogether. Who knows? The one thing I do know is that my chair has been good for me. It’s my link between the old and the new. It represents the lives that so heavily influenced my own that are now in Heaven. It is a reminder of sacrifice, selflessness, and delayed gratification. It is my place of physical comfort.
I sit here in my chair under his blanket and I can almost feel him holding me. It may not seem like much to anyone else, but to me its my lifeline. It is the first thing that I bought just for me. And it represents the newness of life as well as the old. I’m reasonably sure that when I’m ninety-three it will be worn slap out, but I’m telling you right now: NOBODY better not try to tell me to throw them away. My chair and this blanket will be with me for as long as I live. When I’m dead I don’t care what they do with them. But, until that day comes they are mine. And they are special.