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U3A Writing: The Chair

A chair can mean a lot to a family, as Rose Perry's story reveals.

The chair had been in my husband's family for three generations, and I can honestly claim that many important people have sat in it.

The frame was made of top quality oak, the seat, arms and back were upholstered with burgundy leather, complementing the expensive timber furniture in vogue at that time.

A local craftsman, whose specialty was designing and manufacturing custom-built furniture, was commissioned by Grandmother to make the chair for Grandfather's 40th birthday, and what a surprise it was for him when it was delivered to him on his special day.

He loved the carved frame and the richly coloured, quality leather finish, and was puzzled to know that his beloved wife had organized this project without his knowledge, as they had always vowed that they would not keep secrets from each other.

"Goodness me, wherever did she find the money?" he thought, because, in those days, women never handled the finances, as that was the man's responsibility.

Grandfather was an accountant, and at times he travelled to other areas to meet with clients, and often was away for several days. He wasn't aware that Grandma had been taking in sewing and mending at home and was able to earn wages without him knowing, because she realized how proud he was in this area of their lives, as he was the breadwinner in their family.

Years passed and the chair was one of the highlights of his life. At home, he relaxed in its softness, although he wouldn't accept that he actually slept during the day. Fancy his family even considering this; they must have been imagining things!

Their three children, Herbert, Alice and Julie matured to adulthood, and each pursued individual professions.

The time arrived when one by one they married and the grandchildren began to arrive. Grandfather loved the little ones, and, as he was a great storyteller, hours were spent sitting on his knee in the chair, listening to unbelievable tales, when he was the hero, and Uncle Harry was the villain. The children loved Uncle Harry, as he was their favourite relative, and they delighted in these tales of adventure and mystery.

After Grandfather retired from his business, he occupied himself with many activities, his garden being foremost. He also loved to help disabled people, designing and building equipment to enable them to function more productively.
When he relaxed each evening after his day of challenges, and a tasty evening meal, the chair was always there, inviting him to rest in its warmth and comfort.

When Grandfather died, Grandmother decided to give the chair to their son Herbert, as she couldn't bear to see it in her house without Grandfather there to use it.

Herbert had admired the chair for many years. He was overwhelmed when his mother told him he could have it. So the chair changed homes, and Herbert had many restful evenings, and naps, in its depth, memories flooding back, with special thoughts of his father and the valuable times spent with him in and around the chair when he learnt so much.

Herbert's son, William, who was 7 years old when the chair came into his home, would come from school and leap into the chair, and disappear into its depths. He loved to curl up in the softness of its leather with a book to read and some cookies.

This was to be his favourite place for many years. It was a place to dream, to pretend, to plan, and to hide. He took advantage of this, as there were times when his mother couldn't see him hidden in the chair, and he wouldn't answer when she called, so he avoided many tasks when he chose to.

The chair became a conversation piece. When relatives and friends would visit, many stories were shared about Grandfather and his chair.

The leather became worn, the filling began to emerge, and it looked old and threadbare, but the family still treasured this favourite piece of history.

The chair remained in their home until William married. William's mother told him he could take the chair with him, but his wife Anna refused to have THAT thing in her house.
William didn't want to part with it. As a compromise, his wife allowed it to have a place on the back veranda, where it stayed for many years

William and Anna reared two children, David and Eloise, who during their early childhood, acquired a puppy, called Charlie, who was welcomed with enthusiasm by the children. Charlie would play for hours with the little ones, and there were times when Anna thought no-one was looking, she would even stoop to pat his silken hair.

When Charlie was a few months old, he discovered that he could jump up onto the seat of the chair, and what a wonderful place for him to be. He could view the activity around him. If the cat appeared, he would pounce off the chair and the chase would begin. The cat had even dared to sit in the chair once, but never tried again. Charlie gave it such a hard time that from then on it avoided that part of the veranda.

The chair's timber frame now had began to look quite shabby, especially since Charlie began to sharpen his claws on it, and the covering was so worn, so Anne decided that it had to go as it was ruining her image.

Elsie, a new neighbour, called one day to introduce herself. When she saw the chair, she couldn't believe what she saw. This was the type of chair she had always loved. She sensed that this particular piece of furniture had quite a history.

Anna noticed her looking at the chair, and after Elsie asked about it, Anne told her how long it had been in her husband's family, and that now she considered it was time for it to go to the tip as it had passed its usefulness.

Elsie cried out, "Please don't do that. I think it is a special chair. I would love to have it. I have been looking for a special piece of furniture like that for years. I will pay you well. Please have a heart."

Anna told her she could take it. She was relieved that she would never have to look at it again. When she asked what she would do with it, Elsie said, "I will clean it up, re-upholster it and use it in my living room."

Anne couldn't believe what she was hearing. Fancy wanting that ugly old thing!

So Elsie organized someone to collect the chair, and soon it was hers. This beautiful chair, just what she had dreamed about for years, and now it was right here, in her possession. It was certainly worth waiting for.

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