My Grandfather’s Chair

Growing up, I spent every Friday night at my grandparents’ home, only a few blocks away from my own.  And we were often in and out of their house during the week as well.  Like as not, when I walked in, I’d find my grandfather sitting in the living room in his favorite chair.

My grandfather wasn’t what you’d call a smiley man.  His resting face was grim.  But he’d beam when I entered the room.  “Hi, Granddaughter!” he’d say.

Always I remember him in that chair, his ash tray stand to one side, the table with the reading lamp and the clock with the numbers that flipped on the other, his feet propped on the ottoman while he watched the nightly national news, or Lawrence Welk, or his soap operas, or as he read Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.

Sometimes I’d watch t.v. too, with him cautioning me not to sit too close to the big cabinet television with the record player in one end of it. “You won’t be able to have children when you grow up,” he’d warn me.  Sometimes we’d play checkers on the ottoman.

Granddaddy died on September 24, 1980.  It was my first encounter with death.  I remember entering the house for the first time and dreading the sight of that empty chair.

Granddaddy's Chair 2

When my grandmother decided to relocate to a retirement community, my mother moved into the house, and the furniture Mima couldn’t take was given away.  My little sister got the chair.  I took the Naugahyde recliner from the basement (which I believe was the predecessor of the chair I’m writing about).  It didn’t last long–my kids have always been hard on furniture.

I love old things and I love family things, and over time I had filled my house with items from my grandparents’ house.  I was the one who took that cabinet t.v., even though it didn’t work anymore.  I had the oil pastel portraits of my grandmother and great-grandmother, the Seth Thomas clock that used to hang in the living room, and so many other treasures that I took because I appreciated them and had room for them.  When our house burned down almost five years ago, I lost it all.  And felt guilty for being such a poor steward of family heirlooms and memories.

We’ve lived for five years in a house furnished by the love of friends and family.  We’ve even added a few heirlooms from John’s grandmother’s house.  Over time, the furniture has become ours, safe and familiar.

My sister moved at Christmastime.  She decided she didn’t have room for Granddaddy’s chair and she asked me if I wanted it.  She knew how much it would mean to me to have it.  It found a new home in our family room.

I had visions of spending time sitting in it, but honestly it isn’t a very comfortable chair, at least not for me.  Emily sits in it sometimes, but more often than not it’s inhabited by cats.  Still, it makes me happy whenever I see it.

 

Graddaddy's Chair 1

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  1. What nice memories granddaughter.

  2. Roshni says:

    I love that you got the chair! I also collected a few items from my grandparents’ house this time when I visited and seeing them there just brings back so many good memories!

  3. Crystal says:

    I just caught a glimpse of a cup in my cupboard this morning. I am sure my grandma sent some unfinished pop home with one of the kids in it. It is just a lidded cup with a farm store logo on it, but I can still see my grandpa drinking out of that very cup as we drove down the road.
    I am so glad you got to have one heirloom after losing so many. That would be so hard!

  4. Michele says:

    Leslie I am so happy that you have your grandfathers chair. it does indeed sometimes help just have their things around. My grandfather also had a special chair, and he also read the paper and watch Lawrence Welk. He used to let me wear his felt hat, and it was always fun. Remember when men wore hats? i wanted to have it after he died but my grandma kept it hanging on a hook and I was afraid to ask for it. .

  5. mamawolfeto2 says:

    Such a beautiful tribute. I love having items from my ancestors in my home- it brings us together through time and space.

  6. Jim says:

    Great story Leslie, thanks for sharing

  7. Agatha says:

    That’s such a treasure to have as it holds memories and stories to share. Beautiful!

  8. Mary Geisen says:

    Beautiful story! Having just lost my dad, my sons’ grandfather, I understand the process of keeping things to keep them close.

  9. I have my grandpa’s chair too! It is not comfortable at all, but it is his chair, so I have kept it. He used to sit in it and smoke his pipe. It was the only place he was allowed to smoke in the house. I loved the smell of his pipe! I hope you enjoy your grandpa’s chair, just as much as I love mine. Thanks for sharing your story.

  1. January 2, 2017

    […] My Grandfather’s Chair […]

  2. October 24, 2017

    […] My grandfather died when I was 13, and his was the first funeral I ever attended.  For years I was uncomfortable with the whole idea of “viewing” the body, and dreaded going to funerals.  But forcing myself to attend many out of a sense of duty and obligation over the past several years changed my attitude.  In one tragic week several summers ago, a high school friend’s son committed suicide, the father of one of Teddy’s football teammates died in an accident, and the father of one of his classmates committed suicide.  I took Teddy to the funeral of one father, and he accompanied me to take food to the family of the other one.  Set an example for your children with your actions when death touches you, and encourage their participation, and they will internalize the value of these rituals and will not fear them. […]

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