Hand Me Downs…

A wooden rocking chair: old, a hand-me-down, stained to bring out the grain of the wood, armrests worn soft at the edges.  An old, wooden rocking chair, held together with glue and nails, some strategically placed screws—repaired more than once.

Nanny had the rocking chair in her bedroom; our family legend, Nanny.  Her bedroom was always darkened, shades partially closed in the shabby apartment in a tired, run down part of an old, tired city.  It was boring to visit Nanny: no toys, nothing to do; we could not go outside to explore the huge garage, wedged between other tired buildings, so full of promise.  But Nanny…Nanny held court, sat in her chair and never moved, cigarette in one hand, beer in the other, laughing and talking and laughing more—this is what I remember.  Sometimes we were chased from the room, her stories not suited for “little ears;” stories of past adventures, stories of neighbor troubles and troubled neighbors, stories of family—always stories, always loud, always cigarettes and beer.

Nanny came to live in our house and brought Poppy with her.  Poppy: old, stooped—smoking, hacking, and smoking some more.  The rocking chair lived in our house now.  On our large, suburban front porch, Nanny sat in that rocking chair and taught me to crochet.  Books were read in that rocking chair.  Crocheting, reading, watching the world go by, I rocked in the summer heat.

Nanny and Poppy moved to their own home, but they left the chair behind on our porch and it became Mom’s.  One day, the porch and the house attached to it were sold to another family with their own, less legendary Nanny. The rocking chair became mine, came to my house and my own, much smaller porch.

Babies came and spent long nights getting rocked in that rocking chair. That house became too small and was sold. The rocking chair journeyed to another house in another state—another baby, more rocking. When that house was lost, the rocking chair was exiled to storage—no room in the much smaller, crowded row home. Another house freed the chair from storage; it lived in a new living room with more stories, more people, my friends, kids’ friends, family friends—more laughter, no more cigarettes but sometimes a beer; from it, I watched TV, played games, opened presents on Christmas mornings—made a full life.

Now, another state, yet another house, likely my last; the babies are grown and all have their own houses now. The constant rocking chair sits in the living room, enjoying the sunshine, waiting for the next reader, the next rocker, the next story, the next house.

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.  Proverbs 90:12

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