Monday, July 12, 2010

Obsessive Compulsive Chair Disorder

Who there is who doesn't love a chair?

Dear Mom:

It is about all those chairs you left behind when you died. I know you loved collecting them, but I had no idea until you went to your Great Reward what a large quantity of them you had saved to "eventually re-do." When we started tidying up the house for your funeral reception we found them all over the place. Wow.

In your honor, I vowed to keep the prettiest and most interesting ones. The ecclesiastical one, for example, which we dragged home in the back of the Oldsmobile from our summer vacation in Spokane long ago and looks like it belongs next to the pulpit in a church? I'm doing a needlepoint cover for it. But that's a pretty big project, so the chair remains an unfinished beauty.

The ecclesiastical chair.

The carved baroque revival chair? Now that is something special. Unfortunately when you found it at that garage sale, it was covered in pea green velour. I'm casting about for some fabric to cover it with. Another project for me!

The pretty carved chair with some fill-in fabric draped over it to cover the green velour.

And the heart-shaped upholstered chair (without the upholstery) escaped its fate at our garage sale when I spotted how cute it was and weakened--deciding it would be a shame to let it go blah blah blah, and that it was worth the work and time and money it would take to transform it. Another project to add to my list. And so far, alas, nothing yet for people who come to visit me to actually sit down on.

A sweetheart of a chair. Use your imagination.

Then there is the ladylike side chair. What a patina! It would make the Keno brothers swoon. It is covered in a light green silk which is a little stained and which I notice from the tag underneath was put on there in 1934. But it doesn't look truly awful so I thought I might leave it as is for now, because, what with all the other chairs I have to re-do, and all the other things on my list, I'm not sure I'll get this chair reupholstered before the family has to tidy up the house for my funeral reception.

Not perfect but to remain as is for now.

And then Sis and I climbed up in the crawl space above the cars in the garage and to our horror found another stash o' bedraggled chairs and chair parts. What were you storing them up there for, I wonder? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. One was a piano stool that I immediately found use for as a plant stand.

It goes without saying.

One pair of chairs wasn't too bad looking after I dusted them off and swabbed them in furniture oil. "Gosh, I'll bet those had cane seats," said Sis. "They would look great if you could get someone to re-cane them." And I agreed. She was right.

And then I thought: re-cane these old chairs? What am I thinking? In what, my spare time? I already have a half-dozen half-wit chairs to "re-do" that Mom didn't get done in her entire eighty-eight-year lifetime! And now I'm imagining I will re-cane a couple of old chairs I don't need?

Mom, it was one of those special moments of clairity we all get down here from time to time. I mean, you took your journey into the Undiscovered Country and left behind at least three dozen wobbly old chairs that needed complete rehabilitation. Rehabilitation that took place in your imagination only! We discuss from time to time--and forgive us for this--if this is evidence that you were slightly off your rocker. If you ever had a rocker and if it didn't need refinishing.

But if I pick up where you left off, what does that make me?

Your daughter, I guess.

Hope things are fine where you are. Down here I'm up to my elbows in furniture polish and upholstery fabric.

Much love,


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Laura said...

Ha! When our house was being built, we opted for a two-car garage and made the 3rd space into "Mom's Room", or, as I call it, "The Pigpen".

It's filled with papers and fabric and art supplies and old family photographs, plus books and loads of scrapbooking supplies that I'll get to ... one of these days.

This September I'll have ❖TWO ❖ kids off to college and just one at home. I am hopeful I'll get to it then. Otherwise, when I die, they can just have a huge bonfire in my memory.

Robin Chapman said...

Or you can make them go through it and they can write about you on their blog! Nice to know I'm not alone...

Florida Beach Basics said...

good story - great chairs! enjoy your new hobby :) marge

Robin Chapman said...

Wait! Wait! This is not my new hobby! I least I don't think so ... DNA. What a terrible thing that is.

Libby said...

You obviously also inherited her sense of humor. I just found your post while searching for images of old chairs. Wonderfully written, bittersweet. I found I was laughing and crying at the same time.

Robin Chapman said...

I am glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps it is time for an "Obsessive Compulsive Chair Disorder" update. I gave one chair to my friend Leslie and the upholsterer went ga ga over it and told her it was worth $2500. I said "Leslie, I don't think so. But God bless you and enjoy yourself. It isn't worth that to me!"