I found this book “Grandfather’s Chair” by Nathaniel Hawthorne tossed on the floor of my grandparents’ basement. Not too far away sat this old green chair that was probably used on my grandfather’s farm or in his little country store. I thought that it was so fitting to find the two together in the same space, yet the story itself was not the perfect description of my relationship with my grandfather. Based on looking through the book, the chair of the story seemed to be much more luxurious. The grandchild’s relationship also seemed very formal.
I had spent a lot of time with my Papa growing up, because my Memaw kept my brother and I after school. Yet we did not have engaging conversations like the people in the book. I was a little afraid of his stern look and the heavy shuffle of his feet. His recliner chair was the much sought-after space to watch TV each day after school. When he returned home from the farm, we spent the rest of the evening lying on the floor, inadvertently aggravating him by rocking the green leather bar stools with our feet. I am sure that the sight of my mother’s car was a relief to him.
In 1985, my grandfather suffered from a stroke while working on the farm. His health declined until he eventually died of Parkinson’s disease in 1988.
The collage of the book on the chair is representative of the stories that were shared with me from my grandfather. None were direct and thorough. Many came in bits and pieces torn and tied to shared memories of time, place, family and tradition.