Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Empty Chair

It was always his chair, the deep-cushioned recliner with the pop-up foot rest that dominated one corner of the room. He did everything in that chair. Well, not quite everything. But it was his reading chair, his talking chair, his TV-watching chair, his snacking chair, and his snoozing chair. The recliner followed Mom and Dad from house to house, from living room to living room. It shed its upholstery periodically and grew a new covering, like a reptile shedding its skin and emerging glistening and freshly clad. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always a part of home. A part of him.

The chair didn’t empty suddenly. The process was a gradual one - a subtle stealing away. Nor did the chair empty in any physical sense. Dad still sat in it; he just didn’t inhabit it anymore. The conversations faded first as Alzheimer’s insinuated itself into and through his brain. Reading was next to go; although he kept up the habit of holding a newspaper or book, he never turned the pages. As the months and years marked the infiltration of the leading edge of his illness, he would stare blankly at the TV screen, his book or magazine held forgotten - often upside down - in his hands. Eventually, even the pretense of reading vanished along with his memories, his laughter, his love of life and his awareness of his wife and family.

The chair is gone now. It broke down soon after Dad died. He and it had grown old together, had grown tired together. The chair mourned the loss of the familiar contours of his body and refused to form a relationship with anyone else. Mom had the chair removed, and the corner where it once stood remained empty for a long time. 

When Mom moved to her new apartment, she purchased a new chair - one without Dad’s imprint. Mom’s chair was her throne. She sat in it to watch TV, to nap, to snack on her tea and muffin, and to bask in the joy of receiving visitors. Especially family. She would sit proudly, the center of attention, trading quips, puns and jokes with anyone who would listen. But not any more. Mom’s chair is empty now. We lost her last month, just six weeks after she celebrated her 93rd birthday surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She and Dad are back together again, sitting peacefully side-by-side as they used to do. Holding hands, trading stories, and basking in their mutual love.


  1. Oh Cuzzie.. how I love this. It's hard to believe that she's gone. That they're all gone, really. We are now the oldest generation.

    Your wrote a beautiful tribute to your Mom and Dad.. to my Auntie Gertie and Uncle Lou.

    Hugs to you.

  2. What a lovely tribute you wrote. I could almost see Mom and Dad in your prose.

  3. simple and beautiful...good one, Phyllis

  4. I read this with tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a lovely and poignant remembrance.

    Here via Hilary's POTW.

  5. Thanks to all of you - and those of you who contacted me privately by email - for your support and your kind comments.