Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Story of a Chair

Thirty years ago, we purchased a house with an unusually small living room. It had to fit the piano, a harp, and provide seating for small formal gatherings of no more than five people. I searched for furniture that would fit, but the search was futile. The room also had lush, rose colored carpet. I was stuck with specific decorating parameters.

I ended up ordering custom furniture: a love seat and two small-sized wing back chairs.

Ten years later, we sold the house and purchased a home with regular-sized rooms. The love seat moved into the master bedroom and one of the wing back chairs went into a daughter's bedroom. When she had to furnish her first apartment, she took the wing backs, and I gave up my bedroom love seat. Eventually those pieces moved to Northern Illinois and later found their way to Chicago. By now they were thirty-years-old. The couch had ripped, but my daughter kept it alive with a cover.

 Over the years, as she and her husband finished graduate school, she added to her apartment furnishings with cast offs from an affluent Chicago neighborhood where residents give away almost-brand new furniture. On a designated day of each week, the sidewalks are stacked with tables, couches, chairs, for the taking.

Graduate school ended, regular salaries were the new normal, raises were earned. Finally, the day came when the last wing back chair from her childhood had served its purpose. She almost put the chair up for sale on an online garage sale, because it was still a sturdy chair. She had picked up ten dollars here or twenty dollars there for selling clothing or household goods. There was always someone in need of a bargain.

But she had a new thought, Over the years, I've received so many pieces of free furniture, I've been blessed by others' generosity, it's my turn to give. 

In another neighborhood, people were looking out for an eighty-six year old widower who could no longer rise from his low, soft,  couch without knee pain. He needed a sturdy chair and they found it in the online garage sale. Best of all it was free. Three different neighbors worked together to bring the chair to its new home.

The caring neighbors were so fulfilled by their effort and care, they sent my daughter a photo of the happy elderly man.

My daughter received so much joy from acting on a new idea, that when it was time to replace two ten dollar plastic floor lamps from Target, still in good shape, she photographed the lamps and placed them on the online-garage-sale. For free. This time the couple who wanted them were immigrants without a car, who lived only a twenty minute walk away. The woman planned to pick them up with her child's stroller, but the winds were fifty miles per hour. She sent her husband the next night, but when my daughter learned he was walking and would be carrying both lamps, she sent her own husband to pick him up and help deliver the lamps.

My daughter's appreciation is renewed by her encounters with people in need. I am touched and want to be a part of her experiences. I'm only here for the weekend, but I still ask, "What else can we give away?"

 Who would have thought a decorating decision made years ago would have crossed paths with the kind neighbors of an eighty-six year old man.