In the final direction of the elementary town

Sometime in the early 1970s my mother decided to reupholster a chair in red velvet.  I can still see her tucking and tacking away out in the driveway of our suburban ranch house.  She was never a particularly handy woman, but she managed well enough.  My dad, however, was not impressed by the finished product.  He laughed and said it looked like something that belonged in a bordello.  Perhaps in response to this slight, she placed the chair in a prominent spot in their bedroom.

When my mother left my father a few years later, she took the chair with her.  It eventually followed her into a new marriage, a move to California and later to Tennessee.  It was an incongruous part of the decor in four different houses.  And last March I hauled it back to Iowa when I moved my mother into an assisted living home.  Four months later I had to move her and the chair again when she had to go into a different unit in the facility for advanced memory care.

Last Wednesday we moved once more: this time into a single room at a nursing home.  My mother has reached stage six on a seven-point degradation scale.  She can still recognize me but very likely won't in a month or so.  It took me about eight hours to clean out her apartment.  I boxed up pictures and donated her lamps, dishes, books and bed to the DAV.

By 6 pm it was already dark outside and snowing a little.  The only thing left to dispose of was that red chair.  I stood there for a moment looking at it.  In the 40 years since my parents divorced, I have seen them in the same room twice and then they shared only a few cursory words.  Two years ago my father died and now my mother's memory has so deteriorated that she can barely recognize her siblings (let alone ex-husbands).

Standing there in the snow last Wednesday, it occurred to me that there is almost nothing left in this universe of their marriage.  Just me and that red velvet chair. 

I asked the maintenance guy at the assisted living place if he wanted it.  He laughed and said, "Nah, it looks like something out of a cat house.  I'll throw it in the dumpster if you like."

"Thanks," I said.

So I watched as he loaded it into the back of his truck and drove away.


Anonymous said…
Hey, congrats on your 500th post.

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