By LAURA THOMAS
Oh the memories that come and sweetly rest in my heart, when I see a rocking chair in a room. My great-grandfather sat in that chair, oh so long ago. This chair belonged in my fraternal grandparents’ house, sitting in a corner of a brightly lit, neatly ordered living room. I loved all the windows; they let in so much sunshine. As a child I’d sit and play in the golden rays that splayed across the floor.
Being at my grandparents’ house was a special time. I can still see in my mind’s eye their faces and hear their voices. My grandmother would always have KFC chicken for us. It was a grand meal for us kids. We would eat this out on the porch while the grownups chattered in the background.
My favorite memories are of the chair. For in this chair sat my great-grandfather. I was 6, he was 101. Very old in my young eyes yet somehow I didn’t see the frailty. He had seen better days, but make no mistake, his tattered condition was no reflection on him, but a sign of true grace and wisdom. For he had seen the four seasons of life’s years. Through the years he had changed from the magnificent man, to the grizzled form I saw before me, the physical ailments, if you will, brought on by age. I believe this can affect our perception of what we see, or want to see, in a person.
I would sit and listen to the stories he told, of the yesteryears of his life on the railroad and of being an Indian agent. The great Indians he knew in Montana and Wyoming roamed the plains and hunted buffalo. As a young girl these stories captured my heart and imagination, a thrill to my young mind. I was enraptured by them; they took me far away from the life I knew. They encouraged a spirit I didn’t yet know I had.
Little did I know how much my great grandfather impacted my life, my spirit, changing the perceptions of a small girl’s world and imparting a wisdom that I still carry in my heart. While I sat there at his feet, he shared his wisdom of seasons past and present, of life’s storms and glorious days. He shared his life’s experience, so later in my life I could reflect on what was done during difficult times, or decisions made that did not feel good, but were the right ones to make. The chair reminds me of how my great-grandfather impacted my life. This great man has been gone from my life for a great number of years, but not from my heart. For in my mind’s eye I can still see that chair in a room.