My apologies for my long absence from the blogosphere, but real life has been catching up and I haven’t found the necessary leisure to immortalise my thoughts here.
However, prompted by my daughter’s comment on my last post that I should update it, here’s a short sequel as testimony that our family furniture has lost none of its musicality or mobility.
My middle granddaughter and her husband have been living in the UK for almost 4 years, and although they are truly minimalist, a certain amount of furniture has proved essential. They are now moving to France, and being sensible young folk, are not taking much more than they brought with them from Switzerland, which fitted into two suitcases.
I have long coveted their armchair, called Sherlock because of its winged back, which I thought would look good in my mother’s house and be a respectable replacement for the old armchair that had been my father’s and was now much the worse for wear. However, since neither they nor I had any means of transporting it the couple of hundred miles between their home and my mother’s, and in view of my mother’s age, I had given up all thoughts of this ever coming to pass.
What a surprise, then, when one Sunday evening I received a text from my daughter who was visiting from Switzerland, and had hired a car for the occasion. She was at Middle Granddaughter’s house, and had room in the car for Sherlock, if we wanted him. Phone photo followed.
Now, my mother may be just a month short of her hundredth birthday, but this is still her house and she is still boss. She doesn’t make snap decisions. I’ve been reprimanded many a time and oft for my impulsive nature (“Just like your father!” – is there a more damning comment?) so although she liked the chair, she pointed out quite rightly that we already have a sofa and two armchairs as well as Dad’s chair in this small living room, and there’s no place for another large armchair however new, beautiful and comfortable it may be. I timorously suggested that the Salvation Army might like the old one, and she nodded. It has strong sentimental associations, and she didn’t like the thought of it going to the dump and being left out in the rain. The Salvation Army would find it a “good home”. So I gave my daughter the green light, and middle granddaughter heaved a sight of relief at the thought that some day she may get her favourite armchair back again, if family traditions don’t die out.
The fact that neither the Salvation Army nor any other charity will take a fifty-year-old chair that doesn’t have the requisite fire-proof certificate emerged the next morning. My mother’s house is not large, and she has lived in it since 1938, accumulating more and more things over the years. Actually, it’s amazing that you can move around here. I suppose much has been thrown out or passed on to other “good homes” but there isn’t really much free space.
Daughter and son-in-law duly arrived in the afternoon with the beautiful Sherlock, which looks brand new (thank you for taking such good care of it, kids!) and then came the dilemma. Could we simply dump Dad’s old chair and tell Mom it had gone to the Salvation Army? I am the world’s worst liar and the idea of lying to her stuck in my throat. “No,” said Daughter, as sentimental as the rest of us. “Isn’t there room upstairs?” We have three bedrooms, but they are all pretty full, including all the space under the beds. But wait! If we put the small chair from my bedroom – which originally came from a German relative – into my mother’s bedroom where there is a small space between the chest of drawers and the wardrobe, maybe we could squeeze it into my room? I had the forethought to measure the chairs and the available spaces before we started hauling the heavy armchair up the stairs (which are now encumbered with a stair lift, so not an easy manoeuvre) and found that the space in my room between the bookcase and bureau was a couple of inches too small. But the easy chair under the window – which originally came from my aunt to me, and was left behind when we emigrated 40-odd years ago – would fit in there, and that would leave enough space for Dad’s chair.
As Son-in-Law is a big strong man, he had no difficulty in re-arranging the chairs and bringing Dad’s chair upstairs to its new location. My bedroom, 12 feet x 12 feet, now contains a single bed, a wardrobe, 2 bookcases, a bureau, a small table, an easy chair and an armchair. All mismatched, but cosy. And each with its own little tale to tell.
My mother inspected the re-arranged rooms and gave them her seal of approval. “That teddy bear looks fed up,” she remarked with a whimsical smile, “sitting there squashed between those dolls. Let’s take him downstairs for a change.”
Sherlock now presides proudly in the living room. Who sits there? Why, Teddy of course!