When a Chair is More than a Chair


Mom’s Wing Back Chair

by Brenda J. Archer

As the decision was finally made to remove my mom’s old, fading wingback chair out of my home after nearly 17 years, I felt somehow at peace and now I know why…because it was finding its way to a very special person that I didn’t yet know, named Pat.

The chair never had a “job” in my home. It earned its retirement and sat quietly in the corner of a small guest room seeing nearly no one day after day. I kept it all these years, of course, because it reminded me of my mom, who gave it to me when I moved into my country home.

As the roadside became its new interim home, I’d occasionally look out my window and see the silhouette of the wings sitting there, pricking me with a feeling of remorse. What did the chair ever do but offer me both emotional and physical comfort? It was a strong upright soldier and offered great lady-like support. How could I just discard it like that? Was I wrong? Would some passer-bye even want it? But then something happened.

It sat there on the roadside confidently as if it knew “Pat” was coming! Even as I wrestled with whether or not I should change my mind and rescue the chair from the curb and probable destruction, something held me back. It was as if the chair was speaking to me and saying, “It’s okay. I’m going to be fine.” Not even a smelly dump truck stopping by to pick up the nearby trash can seemed to make the chair seem less confident. A few days passed, filled with numerous cars and horse and buggies driving by, hardly glancing at the wingback chair stoically sitting by the road ... until a lady named Pat drove her school bus by and knew she must have it! Later on, Pat, herself, admitted she worried the wingback chair would probably never still be there by the time she had a chance to come back pick it up. Surely someone would snatch up this treasure!

Little did I know, but He already laid out the pathway … the instance for Pat and I to meet was paved by my mom’s old wingback. There was more at work here, something bigger than just coincidence.

And then it happened … A large black dually rumbled up and out of the driver’s seat came a beautiful petite woman with the prettiest of grey hair and wire rimmed glasses which showcased the wisest of eyes seemingly whispering her story. She was dressed in a button up mauve work shirt, jeans, and slip-on muck-style shoes. Just looking at her for the first time, I felt her energy, the energy of all her life’s lessons. I could feel her soul! That drew me to her, to linger and learn from her…

When we greeted each other, I got the immediate sense of, “Oh, this is someone I want to spend some time with.” The peaceful sensation washed over me and I trusted it. Pat described her now farm of 61 acres as a little drop in the bucket, making a motion with her fingers, compared to the Texas farms she knew of that were thousands of acres. She had fascinating stories that painted pictures of a life well lived and a hard strong work ethic that, with her husband, raised two successful daughters. A family accomplished and contributing to society … her eyes, if possible, got brighter when speaking of them. I was so drawn to this woman whom I had just met.

We easily chattered back and forth. I wanted to listen. I wanted to ask questions. I wanted to hear more stories of the ranch she worked on in Texas where she moved cattle into dry lots when it rained, fixed fences, and wore out chaps and saddles from the rain. We spoke of stock trailers and how horses were transported all saddled up with reins wrapped around the saddle horns ready to work cattle when off-loaded. Horses were transported as teams to meet their human counterparts at the day’s destination! 

Pat shared her excitement of actually seeing our home and property, as she had admired it from a distance on her school bus driver route. A quick tour of the inside was offered and she gladly accepted! Pat marveled at the décor and feeling of the home, stating it should be in a magazine and I should be a decorator! I chose to accept those compliments and still cherish the gift of her words to our little homestead. Someone admiring another’s passion is a great conversation with nothing more than the truth exchanged. What a reward! Thank you, Father.

Comfortable and genuine invitations were exchanged to see each other again. I would visit her farm where she raises goats and makes soap. Pat shared her dreams of owning a small retail business to showcase her soaps, an extensive line of animal care products, and might I add that this is where my mom’s wingback will find its new home.

When I do visit, I will anticipate nothing. I will look forward to meeting her family of goats, the Haflinger horses she described as driving work horses (now companions) and her border collie.

Pat was so happy to learn that the chair from the side of the road she had to have, had belonged to my mom. Very unexpected, but I was so pleased that my mom’s wingback chair was going to this woman’s farm, to Pat’s.

As we parted I knew I would see her again.

Ah, the lessons I learned from a chair, a woman, and a few moments in time.

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