A Single Chair Shining Immortal

When my Father sat in that dining room chair Sunday dinner after Sunday Mass, well it was just a chair. A large, thickly-carved walnut chair with curved armrests that gave it a kingly look. And yet, just a chair. You know how it is with the furniture in your parents home — it’s simply there. We accept it as a given, a part of the landscape, something you can do with or without.

Not anymore. Not now, 51 years since he gasped his last breath on that ugly white hospital bed. This dining room chair, now well over 100 years old, is the last fragment to the scattered mosaic that was my parents’ home. Many of those fragments now stand and serve proudly in homes as far away as Dublin.

Now saved that old chair and set it proudly among our furniture. And whether it fits in our not, it warrants a kingly place here. Until that undated time when our children will perhaps take up the fragments of our mosaic. The habit goes by many names: inheritance…sentimentality…. continuity.

The last one is the best one. Continuity….! When you think about it, isn’t this what we mortals have been doing these hundreds of millions of years? Continually passing on from one generation to another our furniture. our values. our fears. our dreams. Something like the alpine backpack the climber takes with him working up that mountain. It’s what you carry from what you learned from the last climbers.

Right now there are 7 billion of us climbers on this crowded mountainside. Some of us will make it to the top. Most of us will settle for something below. Either way, the climb will be easier if we bring along our loved ones’ lives somewhere inside that pack….

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