This is the story that starts at the beginning…my beginning…the fourth day of the fifth month in the year nineteen hundred and sixty-two. As I recall, it was a relatively quiet, unremarkable day; relative to five months later, when the nation was at DEFCON 2! Don’t blame me, they had nine months to prepare!
The world then, as it is now, is full of instability and moments of crisis. As nations, we often work toward peace and stability by sitting in chairs and talking. In the world of the four walls and roof we called home, it was no different. The path to peace went through a chair.
The first few years of my life were full of crises; sudden loud noises, stumbles, and unfamiliar faces. Peace came in the form of a short, wooden rocker with a rattan seat. That “rocking” chair did not start its life as such, but as a tall Shaker chair with four legs; the type of well-made minimalist design you’d expect to find in a country church. This chair was handed down through the family…one generation to the next. Over the years, its constant use wore down its four legs; tired from the movement back and forth along the floors of every home it supported. At some point, growing ever shorter, but still providing utility, it was fitted with its current “rockers,” which added a sense of warmth to its character. Simplicity, utility, honesty, and warmth is what you’d expect to get from this chair and, through the years, it was true to its structure.
My first memories of life are from this chair, in my mother’s arms, rocking back and forth, the tears drying from my face. Words were seldom spoken, as it was the chair that spoke volumes that all was well; no worries…I am here; you are not alone. My mom and I both found peace in that chair.
In the years that followed, that chair remained in our home; it remains there now to be passed to the next generation. It conveys a sense of peace just to see it.
There were other chairs that passed through our home; short-timers that were discarded when their usefulness as a chair had passed. It requires a heart to make a chair special and enduring.
Chairs in antiquity were often symbols of authority and dignity. Our home was blessed to have such a chair…another special chair with a heart, which often sat in our living room…we called it my father’s chair. It was unremarkable; another sturdy rocker made from a wood frame covered in robust fabric…but special nonetheless.
Growing up is not about growing old, but about learning and being nurtured. During the years my father sat in that chair while he lovingly and unselfishly dispensed his wisdom and guidance. Thank God I had the forethought to listen; even as my mouth sometimes spoke to the contrary. My dad and I both found peace in that chair.
In the years that followed, that chair remained in our home; it remains there now. It also conveys a sense of peace just to see it.
A few years ago, one of my daughters wrote a few poems. Reading what she wrote gave me pause…for the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I was her age, I had also put pen to paper. We worked together to unite the poems into one book, which we called “Not Far From The Tree!” We ended our book with the following poem.
From My Father’s Chair
My Father’s Chair is big and sturdy
My Father’s Chair is warm and comforting
My Father’s Chair is stable and dependable
Its arms will embrace you
Its legs will support you
Crafted from the finest wood
Designed for utility and use
Its grain guides you
Its color invites you
My Father’s Chair has purpose
My Father’s Chair is accessible
My Father’s Chair is essential
A place to rest
A place to learn
A place to look and listen
My Father’s Chair is a place to grow
My Father’s Chair was a gift
Passed from one generation to the next
My Father’s Chair is never empty
When I was ready, I climbed into my Father’s Chair
And what I saw
My Father’s Chair is big and sturdy…