What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

wing chair

on September 8, 2014

day four of the WIST chair shed-a-thon

This chair takes me back to the long-ago-time when I was one of five students renting an old house and nearly everything I owned fit in one room. So I was careful about acquiring anything much thicker than, say, the LPs I bought at the used record store. But I didn’t have a comfortable chair to read in, nor a lamp other than the harsh fixture in the center of the ceiling. I felt those lacks.

And then Grandma and Grandpa moved to a “home” (they needed some level of assisted or skilled care). They gave their children and grandchildren anything that any of us were truly sentimental about. Dad and I took a number of Grandpa’s tools. My brother accepted his camera.

An auction was scheduled for what remained of their belongings. I went to the sale to help out as I could and because I felt I ought to stand as a witness to the transfers. I didn’t plan to bid. But at the very end of the day, after the auctioneer said, “That’s all, folks,” a wing chair and floor lamp were carried out of the house. “We found these in the basement!” an assistant cried. Grandpa finished and furnished a room down there, I recalled, which never got used—in temperate weather we visited on the screen porch, and when it was cold crowded into the living room. Really I think the basement was where Grandpa and Grandma put what they didn’t want but couldn’t part with. They were of a generation that began with very little and made do with it for a very long time.

“Well, there’s a reading chair and lamp,” I thought, and shouted, “Five dollars!” “Sold!” the auctioneer said.

Stuffing was coming out of a rip in the chair’s fabric, and I had to rewire the lamp and find a “mogul base” bulb for it. But I went through a few shelves of books in their company and comfort. And when family friends re-upholstered the chair for me, it looked fantastic. I was a poor grad student, but I had one amazing piece of furniture.

Years passed, though … decades … and sunlight faded dyes. Cats scratched. Fabric wore. The chair needs to be recovered again. Doing it right will cost a lot of money. And it’s a formal piece, meant for a room in a life Nimue and I neither live nor want to live. (A no-cats-allowed room, to boot.) Though the chair belonged to my grandparents, that’s not really my connection. They’d banished it to the basement. I may have owned it longer than they. No, my connection through the chair is to the earnest young man who hoped, some days desperately, that he’d find some wisdom in those books he read.


I did, in some of them. I’ve found some more through paying attention to living. Not enough to keep me from being a fool still sometimes, but enough to know that meaning is in memory, experience, and their expression, not in any object of itself. I’ve searched my heart, and am fairly sure it’s time to let the wing chair go. Since it did, once, belong to our grandparents, I’ll check with my brothers and sister to see if they want to form a connection to it. I may reach out to my cousins as well. It they don’t, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I don’t need to know at this point. That’s some wisdom I’ve accepted, too.

shedding style: give away (?)
destination: family (?)

Comments welcome … anyone have any wisdom for me?


4 responses to “wing chair

  1. I think you need no more wisdom as regards this chair… what a poignant post

  2. It’s those type pieces that are hard to part with. Proud of you!

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