What Do You See?
An Empty Chair
What do you see? You see a chair; wallpaper you perhaps don’t like and a lamp that no longer shines and that is the symbol that matters for me. The image could be a million different houses in the country; personal knowledge gives me the edge….and the sadness that will ebb and flow until like the lamp my light goes out.
I have written before about the happy years spent at my mother in law’s house and the laughter and love that filled its rooms, but when I looked at her favourite chair, which in her later years she was forced to rest all too often I still remember the near-saint who occupied it. The photo I could not take is that of an empty room – nay, empty rooms. For this was house clearance day. How my wife survived it I do not know. We spent our time sat in Mum’s garden chalet unable to watch as the House Clearance men swiftly dismantled that which we could not preserve.
The firm had said they would deduct anything that was saleable from the bill and a tactful ‘not very much of value’ confirmed the tired fiscal worth of sixty years of residence. Yet the worth of living amounted to a fortune and her irrepressible laughter and love echoed in that room and in the house.
Mum’s husband John passed away in twenty fourteen and he was the careful one. He guided the family from austerity to comfort in their time together. The room was also the one in which he did the monthly accounts and whilst never mean, he was shall we say ‘careful’ and I once remember the unmistakable sound of a wastepaper bin being thrown by Mum in frustration, but the parent duality guided two daughters lovingly into comfortable and happy adulthood, leaving a virtual library of love in its wake.
That empty chair saw cheerful mourners at her funeral. Her wish being that the house be filled with laughter at her funeral. Next week a new owner begins her own chapter in that house….I went from room to room with a simple prayer…
“Lord, please bless this house and all who reside here. May they in turn share the joy of living as we did.”
An ordinary semi-detached house; an extraordinary chapter in our lives.