My daughter sat in a chair in our living room the other day, squirming all the while, legs jutting not just downward to the floor, but also up it’s old spine, and over the arms. I was about to scold her for potentially damaging this practical and valuable, according to my own mother, piece of furniture, when a vision of my Great-Grandfather sitting in this chair circa 1918 shot into my head. I had seen the photo in family albums when I was younger, and said to my mother at that time, “there’s my chair!”. Yes, she informed me, there was my valuable chair. Made in Wales, constructed at about the time of England’s reprisal war on the United States in 1812. The chair had traveled the world; England, Chile, Boston, New York and finally San Francisco.
Value is a word that to most people usually implies monetary worth, but as I get older I am truly beginning to see other sorts of value in things. In the case of this chair, I remember sitting in it in my Great-Grandmothers home, also fidgeting and restless with youth, my mother saying to me, “that was Grandfather’s chair, he’d sit there and read and smoke in the evenings”. My Great-Grandfather had died before I was born, so I never knew him, but I did know his face because his large bald head would stare sympathetically down at me from an oil portrait that hung in the living room of their home. By all accounts he was a good man, with a kindly slight-smile, and being an Englishman a smile in a portrait was unusual, even a slight-smile.
This chair, which was also not actually his, but his Great-Grandfather’s as well, has a value that is greater than any monetary figure which an outsider could place on it. It is the same value that one gets when touching something in nature that you know may have been touched by settlers, Indians, or travelers. A connection to those who have gone before, and who enjoyed that which you now enjoy as well.
I hope that I will one day see this same chair in my daughter’s home with my own Grandchild, or Great-Grandchild messing about. This would be the greatest reward of all that this valuable chair could bring me.
Posted on March 8, 2010