"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16
As I walked into the shop at the antique center today, I saw a stranger sitting in my Dad's chair.
It was a fine, deep blue leather, wing-back recliner.
Wing-back to suit Mom's decor, recliner to suit my Dad's need for comfort in his castle.
That chair had been Dad's spot in the family room for as long as I could remember.
In every family room of every home we'd inhabited.
It was the last in a long line of recliners in our homes. Each of them giving their all in service to one of the hardest working men I knew. Giving comfort after long days, working sometimes three jobs to keep our family afloat.
And now it was being usurped by a stranger who knew nothing of my sweet memories.
Knew nothing of the raw emotion his presence there stirred in me.
The night my Dad died, I remember curling up in that chair, comforted by the smooth, cool leather, the faint smell of my Dad's shampoo and the sense that he was holding me still.
My Dad's hugs were always the best.
For a few brief moments, his arms wrapped around me, I was his little girl again, no matter how much I had grown up.
And today the little girl in me wanted to scream at that stranger to get up from my Dad's chair. Wanted to shout at him that he didn't belong there.
That he hadn't earned the right to sit in that place.
But the practical adult in me won out.
The practical adult with a furnished home of her own with no place for a chair whose memories were worth far more than the value of the chair itself.
And so went the minutes of my day.
Watching as strange hands unpacked carefully wrapped glassware and framed artwork and family heirlooms passed down from my Great-Grandmother.
Observing as strange eyes evaluated the worth of precious pieces not judging them by the rich memories each held, but by how much money could be earned by offering it up to someone willing to pay the right price.
It has been what seems a lifetime since I saw my Dad's cufflinks.
And my Mother's beautiful Japanese treasures sent to her from my then soldier Father.
I've never seen them being examined by a strangers hands.
It's just "stuff", a few of my friends said to me today.
Yes, yes it is.
The memories are what count, a few more said.
Yes, that is true.
And on a day like today, I'm glad I have the memories to strengthen my resolve.
To remind my heart that it is still beating.
That I will survive this chapter in the story.
Because today I felt violated.
Robbed of the intimacy of the connection I feel to my parents through the evidence of their life together. The proof of their existence displayed in every photograph that was uncovered.
I am an orphan now.
There is no one living anymore that completely shares my history.
No one but me who can recount the story of my Mom's white oval platter. The platter that held every batch of homemade fudge she lovingly cooked for me and my Dad.
No one is left that remembers how we would giggle together and share the pan scrapings and the fudge covered wooden spoon as my Dad sat in his recliner wondering what was taking us so long in the kitchen.
Yes, it's all just "stuff".
But its the stuff that was part of the life that made the memories that blessedly will never leave me.
Even if I am the only one left who remembers them.
With a Courageous Heart,