It’s Just a Broken Red Chair

I suppose seasoned veterans of the sharpened pencil and crisp fresh paper might call it writers block. I think I called it beginners luck that ran out and now I have nothing more to write about, a dried up well of limited writing ideas. But then…the well found a drop of moisture!

Some time ago, The Husband and I ventured off to go hear a wildly popular money guru speak. The hope was that the wealth factor was contagious and we might catch it as easily as the common cold. After hours…..and I do mean hours….of sitting, I can recall one thing. Now, I am sure if I thought long and hard, I might be able to recall a second item, but at this moment it’s only one.

Are you ready for this one life altering statement???? Ready??? “What do you have? Use what is in your hand.” Seriously? I paid xxxxx dollars to come catch your wealth bug like the common cold, and you tell me to use what is in my hand!

But this one question/statement has echoed through the chambers of my mind since. It has forced me to rethink my thinking process and has caused me to become more creative. In all honesty, I used to think that way and live that way even as a child, up until a few years ago. That’s when I started feeling the need to buy new, rather than reuse what I already had, cherishing the old.

Now lest you think  HOARDER and run down the street yelling that dirty seven letter word (hehe…get it? dirty seven letter word!) Let me clarify. Is it in good shape? Could it be an antique? Does it carry a high sentimental value? Or is it junk? There is only one place for junk….that’s the garbage! But if what I have is in good condition, can I use it for another purpose?

I have always loved old stuff…ALWAYS. I would take old scraps of fabric or old clothes, flannel, fleece, and make sleeping bags and pillows for my barbies. I would make vests and booties out of old felt for my baby dolls. I would take old dishes and play tea party and pretend the Queen came to visit. The older the better. If it was old, I was in love with it. When my family was preparing to move to Florida, my husband looked up the demographics…he told me I would be right at home because the majority of the population was old.

Enter the broken red chair. My mom was always on a quest for old things to dispose of….GASP!!! I can recall multiple tisks that she and my dad would have over her eagerness to get rid of all of his old stuff, antique crystal, dishes and collectables. Things that had belonged to my grandmother. My poor dad, I remember one day, him accusing her that if he got old she was going to get rid of him as well. So began my mom’s journey of packing all things old and storing them out of sight, the old red shed, the attic, the white barn. On occasion I would dare to tip toe past fear, spiders and mice, to dig through the boxes of treasure. I felt like an archeologist. I loved bottles, crystal, frogs, blue willow, milk glass, all things old. My mom conveniently misplaced, at the back of a stack of boxes housing delightful treasures, an even greater treasure, almost equal to that of a pirates bootie. The broken red chair.


That broken red chair was something I would unearth, bring in, clean up…then my mom would “clean up” and my treasure would disappear. Time would go by and I would find its new hiding spot, and start the process all over again. The broken red chair belonged to my Grandma Grace, or as she was called in our house, Grandma Curtis. Grandma Curtis was born in 1899 to my Great Grandma Charlotte Annie, who was an only child, because her father was killed in the Civil War. Grandma Charlotte had a small herd of children and that broken red chair has the memory of many bottoms sitting in it. Grandma Grace was the youngest of the batch so the chair ended up in her keep. The chair has not always been red or broken. It once had been a child’s rocking chair. When I first discovered it on one of my archeological expeditions in the red shed….there it sat… in all of its oldness and glory, smelling of dust and mildew, one rocker was broken, the other completely missing. It was oaken in color and had a very worn brocade cream fabric with small pink and blue flowers, with a delicate braided trim. The bottom of the chair had horse hair falling out, along with the seat batting. I’m sure to the casual observer it was broken junk, but to me it was perfectly beautiful. At some point my mom went through a “lets paint everything red” phase, and so I stripped the chair of its broken rocker and removed the worn and ancient fabric.

That little red chair has such a rich history, broken or whole. It has lived in Ohio in the late 1800s, it has had many children sit and rock, read stories, a shush their baby dolls to sleep, gently rocked away the tears and worries of little hearts. It has lived in a farmhouse, a ranch house on five acres, in a shed, in an attic, in an old red shed. It has been carefully packed and traveled through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, resting in Texas. Made four moves in Texas, packed once again, traveling through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Left packed for over a year and then moved into an attic for the past four years.

But then the words echoing in my mind….”What do you have? Use what is in your hand” has given new life and a new look to the 125 year old broken red chair. If only it could talk…. Oh, the stories it could tell.


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