They Bought Two Chairs: The Glory of Growing Older

They bought two chairs.

Not just accent chairs to compliment the large glass doors that overlook my mom’s flower beds. They bought two chairs for themselves. Recliners, no doubt. Slanted ever so slightly around a little round table and facing the television.

They struck me when I walked in…those two chairs sitting there. I had been home before. Home for holidays and home for funerals and home for family. But there had never been two recliners. And there had never been that feeling of passing time quite so intensely as there was in that moment.

They Bought Two Chairs

The last time I saw two recliners like that was at my Grandparents’ house. Just before everything they owned was pulled into the garage and sold…and not long before they both reclined together in a field across the highway.

For thirteen years, my mom and dad have been among the most amazing of grandparents. But they had never been like my grandparents. Never the white hair or the thick-soled shoes or the polyester pants with that perfect crease down the middle. Heck, even their reading glasses are disguised behind designer brands and seamless transition lenses.

But there is no denying those two chairs and what they symbolize for me.

Time is not slowing down anytime soon.

Family (2)

The trees I helped plant in my childhood are towering over the house. The words “decades” and “twenty years ago” fall easily from my lips. And I am in disbelief at the little faces in the box of ‘old’ photographs that look strikingly similar to the little faces that now call me Mommy.

When I’m in the muck and mire of motherhood I don’t notice time. I notice the dishes piling up in the sink. And I notice the laundry turning over surprisingly fast. But I don’t see my boy’s hair growing longer and thicker until he wakes up with matted bed-head. And I don’t realize just how long my girl’s legs have gotten until I watch her wash her hands in the sink without standing on tippy toes. And frankly, my parents’ aging happens at a safe unseen distance of 800 miles. Out of sight, out of mind.

Family (3)

But when I come home. When things slow down. When I sit in the new recliner and watch the ghosts of my childhood run out in the field and bike down the driveway and jump off the landing, something gets caught in my throat and I realize that we are all part of this slow decline of age.

Or recline, if you will.

We scurry now. From activity to activity. From school year to school year. From season to season. But one day, sooner than we think, the pitter patters will gradually lessen. The “Mommy” will turn to “Mom.” The school bus will transform into a car. And the bedroom that once held a crib will move into an apartment across town. And the life we now think is wrapped carefully in a 5-point-harness in our hands will slip through our fingers into a weedy overgrown sandbox.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just not sure how to feel about it all.

In one sense, I am terrified. I am terrified at the thought of growing old or losing my parents or watching my kids leave. I panic at the thought that I only have thirteen summers left with my Pirate Princess or that my boy will one day tower over me and give his hugs and kisses to someone else.

But…

Family Photos

In another sense I look forward to the days of the two chairs. Sitting back with my feet up next to the one I love, looking out over a lifetime of memories and smiling at a life well-lived. The panic subsides when I think of that day. It’s replaced with a deep, calming joy that I can’t even imagine yet.

Yes. There will be heartache along the way. There will be absences. There will be failures. But as time rolls on, so do the incredible memories. Filling up that shoebox with photographs.

They bought two chairs. But those chairs represent six decades and nine people with beautiful lives and experiences and stories all their own. Stories past and stories to come.

I have no desire to freeze time. But I do hope that one day in many (many, many, many) years, my children will come to my house and sit in my recliners and think fondly of their lives. And our lives. And their grandparents’ lives. And I hope they will not fear the future. Or growing older. Or facing death. Rather, I hope they will embrace each season and make it beautiful so that one day they too will have a shoebox overflowing with wonderful memories…Growing Older

and two chairs to enjoy them in.

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2 Responses to They Bought Two Chairs: The Glory of Growing Older

  1. Beth S July 2, 2016 at 9:25 am #

    I remember the two chairs my grandparents had sitting just like those described. I remember taking grandma to the store when they moved out of the family home and buying a new sofa and two chairs- for their next journey and new home. We picked each out very specifically. The size, shape, color, material. And they couldn’t have been more perfect for who they were.

    Grand’s chair was petite like her, especially sitting next to Pop’s chair. It was wing backed with velvety fabric, soft and sweet like her. With a blanket over the back to wrap up in just like her hugs. And a soft flowery pillow to rest on, just like her shoulders for your head when you were tired or needed a friend. And it sat in the sunshine- which warmed your soul when you say their. It was perfectly her. And like her, I was devastated to see it go, although it remained for many years after she passed. And I sat in it often when she was gone. It’s been 10 years coming this August 1.?

    By the Grace of God, one chair still remains. The BIG puffy PopPop chair. The one that used to feel like a cloud to sit on and hugged you just like PopPop’s hugs before he was so much tinier like now. It is the chair he sits in when we arrive and the kids leap into his arms for hugs. The. chair he reads them stories in, and watches them play when they are in town, that we always take a picture of them with him in. And the one that the morning we leave, they sit for as long as they possibly can, and snuggle while tears trickle til they have to say good bye again.

    They aren’t just chairs. Not at all. They are some of the best memories of time spent together. The two of them. Of us with them.

  2. Jaclyn Levy July 2, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    This is beautiful. I’ve also stuggled with my parents aging, which happens in spurts for me as I also live far from them. The first time my mom emailed me a picture of my dad in his glasses I cried. All my life he had perfect vision until one day in his 50s he didn’t. Your post really captured the emotions and uncertainty and even acceptance of experiencing this slow recline of time in all of its beauty and mystery.

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