July 17, 2011
I had three rocking chairs, two upstairs and one downstairs. That’s how important rocking chairs are to me. Who else has three rocking chairs? Nobody I know of! And these weren’t the uncomfortable wooden ones. The kind that nobody wants to sit in. Oh no, these were the big comfy rocking chairs. The kind that one could curl right up in and rock a baby to sleep. Which is why I purchased them in the first place. That’s how long I’ve owned those rocking chairs. I have moved them from one house to the other, for 20 plus years. I would get rid of one rocking chair only if I had another newer one to replace it. And since that didn’t happen that often, those rocking chairs have been in my life, and in my children’s lives, for many years. I likely rocked my youngest to sleep in the ones that burnt in the fire. Perhaps even my two daughters, now both graduated from high school. In fact, I think I’ve had one of those rocking chairs since my oldest was a preschooler! And over the past 20 years, I’ve moved six times, into and out of four different communities.
Yes, those rocking chairs were important to me because out of everything that I’ve circulated through, I’ve kept those with me. From one house to the next, from one baby to the next. Rocking babies to sleep in the middle of the night. Rocking toddlers and preschoolers to soothe after a hurtful fall or disappointing event. Rocking young children home from school as they told me their tales of embarrassment, shame, pain. Rocking my children as they grow, helping them through another virus, bad dream, broken heart.
Those rocking chairs were used for more than just the sadness in our lives. In those comfy movable chairs, I rocked with my children as they shared exciting news of their day. We rocked together through the hundreds of books that we shared, excitedly living adventures through the many pages that we turned. I rocked in the chair as I listened to my children play me a song on the piano or violin. Or as they stood in the middle of the room to recite a prayer or sing a song.
There would often be an energetic tumble over the favourite chair whenever it was time for someone to open up presents on birthdays. One particular rocking chair was the token “special” chair that the birthday girl or boy was able to sit in as they made their way through the pile of presents spread out at their feet. This particular rocking chair was so special because it was considered mine. No matter who was sitting in that chair, when I walked into the living room, I would get the chair, except when it was a birthday celebration. It wasn’t the best chair, or the most comfortable one. It was simply the one placed in such a way that I could look out the window at what I considered important to look at. In our house in Slave Lake, this was in the direction of the high school, where I could watch my teens making their way to and from school, or watch a group of teens playing basketball in the courtyard. In our Moriniville house, my rocking chair faced the street where I could watch the street lights cast shadows on the darkened sidewalks as I sang a baby to sleep.
And now, I look around the living room where I’ve taken up residence after the evacuation, at all the wonderful furniture donated to me by my friends. The chairs in the living room look quite nice together, surprisingly since they came from different people. As the house comes together to create a new home for my children and I, I realize that for the first time in 25 years, I don’t have a rocking chair.