Monday, August 31, 2009


My head is so full today, I can scarcely concentrate on the matters at hand. Preoccupation with the Twilight of the Gods is the reason.

Not only did I survive the final episode of The Ring, but I sat enraptured for most of its five-and-a-half hours. The first time around for this year’s Seattle Opera’s production had mixed reviews—some bungled horn work (unforgivable when it happens in Wagner), several scene-changing delays due to technical snafus, and a Siegfried, who carries the third and most of the fourth opera, suffering from a virus that affected his vocal chords. By the time I saw the third iteration of the production, those problems had been ironed out.

In the auditorium, I was transported into another time and place, caught up in the demise of the gods. The imagery of the world ash tree, broken and poised for destruction by fire, is heartbreaking, and the unraveling of the skein of fate ominous. I let the opera pull me into the world of Valhalla and Nibelung and sat there spellbound as the twilight descended.

In the lobby, however, I was in the moment. Nowhere but Seattle could you see the mix of getups worn by Ringheads and newbies. From souvenir Ring tee-shirts worn cockily with Dockers to crown jewels topping gold lamé, I saw everything imaginable in the way of clothing. The shoes were particularly amazing, from drugstore flip flops, athletic shoes, hiking boots and Crocs to dainty sandals, bejeweled pumps and five-inch heels. There was even a pair of oxfords with orange desert-sunset scenes painted on them, worn by a man wearing a sunset-orange shirt to match. Trained not to stare, my only double take was when I saw three-inch platform saddle-shoes worn by a twenty-something woman in bright yellow tights.

Handbags ranged from canvas totes filled with dinner snacks (the woman next to me even gave me the menu of her purse-feast) and binoculars, to sequined clutches big enough to hold one breath mint and a tissue. Men wore everything from tuxedos to jeans, while the variety of women’s wear was astonishing, especially the fabrics: Thai silk, denim, corduroy, satin, ribbon knits, cotton knits, gold and silver lamé taffeta, jersey, and spandex. Styles ranged from bridesmaid dresses to clothing suitable for grocery shopping—from strapless to turtlenecks, leather to gossamer. Clearly some women had dug deep into their closets to find that one fancy dress—right out of the 70s or 80s, judging from the look.

But designer clothing abounded, too, peppered throughout all lobby levels. One gorgeous outfit stands out in the kaleidoscope. Made of chocolate brown silk, it was a two-piece dressy suit with a floor-length, slender skirt made in a layered petal pattern. Stunning—and the more so because there were two such outfits—identical—worn by two gorgeous women standing together who could have been sisters, or mother and daughter. The younger one was pushing seventy.

Lots of people needed mobility assistance, but apparatuses were plentiful: trekking sticks, walkers, canes, crutches, bunion boots, more canes, and even a seeing-eye dog that—miracle of miracles—successfully guided her mistress to an available toilet stall at intermission.

We all came to the opera house hoping for a memorable experience, and some of us probably had more transformative experiences than others. But even the man who sat behind me and audibly yawned through several prolonged sequences throughout all four evenings, loudly announced to his companion that he’d learned a lot by enduring seventeen hours of opera.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


The experience of attending Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungen at Seattle Opera—a commitment of no small measure—is proving to be something of an immovable feast for me. Not that I’ve attended it before, at least in its entirety. In past decades I’ve attended, at most, just one opera from a given cycle, believing I didn’t have the stamina to go four consecutive performances and hold down a job at the same time. Nor was I going to squander an entire vacation week on something as selfish as Wagner.

August 2005 was the last time the full cycle was produced in Seattle. I retired in July 2005. By the time it occurred to me I could attend all four operas from a fatigue-management standpoint, all the tickets were gone. So this time around, I made the commitment early. In March I purchased one good (and expensive) seat for the full cycle. Now I join 2,899 others for the opera marathon, four operas, three of which last between five and six-and-a-half hours apiece.

Why an immovable feast? The operas seem to be a way for me to measure my own journey—to notice things about myself in the same way the celebration of an immovable feast affords. As I let the music and stage magic flood my senses, my mind busies itself on many levels. I watch the stage action, read the supra-titles, listen to the music, follow the story. Throughout, I’m aware of my body. My feet go to sleep. I get twitchy. A twang in my leg, a cramp in my shoulder (of all places!), my derriere fatigued—all of which make me conscious of how old I’m getting. I don’t remember such physical discomfort in past performances.

It’s easy to drift mentally sideways a little bit, too, to find myself considering where I was the last time I heard the specific opera—what was I doing in my career, who was my boss, co-workers—did I share the experience with any of them (would they understand and should I bother)? Where was I in my wife-and-mother cycle?

Then I drift sideways in the other direction for the inevitable “contrast and compare” opportunity of Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring stories. Their themes, each with a ring symbolizing lust for power and the corruption that ensues, are similar in both works. It seems like yesterday when I read The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time as I nursed my third baby, sitting in the rocker with him and my book in the middle of the night. Reading The Hobbit aloud to my kids is a treasured parent-memory—as well as the subsequent pleasure the kids derived in delving into the next three books themselves. Now I'm thinking about each of my children, considering whether they would enjoy this opera experience.

My mind travels over to my first opera with my parents (don’t even remember which one it was but I remember being bored), and consider my theory about one needing to be fully mature (late thirties? forties?) to enjoy opera. Then I think about the same slow fade-in of appreciation for certain literature, such as The Great Gatsby. (I was thirty-eight before I ‘got’ Gatsby’s greatness.) I begin to wonder if a person eventually fades down onto the other side, out of opera appreciation. Can a person get too old for opera? Is the slow fade on the other side happening to me?

The music is, of course, utterly astonishing in its depth and richness. It’s unending nuance and brilliant orchestrations are what fuel my imaginings. No wonder the Romantic period ended with Wagner. How could anyone top him? The story of the Nibelungen, however, is often dopey and sometimes creepy. Why, the most exquisite music about love is sung by twins fresh from their experience of carnal knowledge—with each other!

Somehow, through the work's greatness, we get into the heads of the characters and empathize with all of them, even the darkest villains, consumed by their preoccupation with achieving power. I ache for Fricka who is starving for fidelity and bound by moral decency. I grieve for Brünnhilde who looses her apple-of-her-father’s-eye status. I yearn for my own personal visit from Erda who rises from the forest floor to transfigure the listener with wise counsel for humankind.

And in empathizing with all these gods and humans, searching my life peripherally in a stream-of-consciousness way—I myself become more aware of my frailties and flaws, more able to assess the meaningful moments. Wagner’s Ring plops into my life’s moment and triggers circle after circle of concentric rings, allowing me to consider my life. And all this in a mere nineteen hours of gorgeous musical entertainment! What a deal!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As I Lay Ranting . . .

Language adapts over time. Usage and spelling can be expected to change as we march through the centuries. I love the advent of new words, such as blog and Internet, because they represent such a wonderful new world. And I’m happy inflammable became flammable. But usage changing because people are in too much of a hurry to learn how to use correct grammar makes me feel sad . . . and mad.

Take LAY vs. LIE, for instance. It’s not as if one word is easier than the other to use.

Twenty years ago people said: “I’m going to lie down for a few minutes—will you take the cake out of the oven when the timer rings?” Now almost everyone says: "I’m going to lay down for a few minutes—will you get the door when the pizza arrives?"

Back then, if you had a dog, you’d say: Lie down! Now, most dog owners say: Lay down! I wonder how a dog who’s learned it the right way reacts when the command is given the wrong way. (Is that why Fido doesn’t mind anymore?)

When I began to hear TV commercials, sitcoms, and movies scripts substituting lay for lie, I knew this sloppiness of grammar was here to stay. I can take a deep breath and ignore it. But when I hear scripted dialogue written for period characters, such as FDR, Thomas Jefferson, or JP Morgan, this grammatical misuse drives me crazy! John Adams would never have said, “Lay down until dinner is ready.” Even Nixon knew better. Of course, if the story were about King James, the script could read, “Layeth thee down,” but I digress.

From Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style, this example: “The hen lays an egg; the llama lies down.” Lovely and simple.

TO LAY always takes an object (noun or pronoun)
Lay (present), laid (past), laid (past perfect), laying (participle/gerund)—simple conjugation for the transitive verb that ALWAYS takes an object.
Example present tense: “Please lay your coat on the guestroom bed.”
Example past tense: “By the time he laid his head on the pillow, he was asleep.”

TO LIE never takes an object (but frequently requires an adverb or adverbial phrase)
Lie (present), lay (past), lain (past perfect), lying (participle/gerund)—simple conjugation of intransitive verb that never takes an object.
Example present tense: “Your baby can lie here.”
Example past tense: “While your baby lay watching the mobile, she fell asleep.”

I know this rant puts me into the ‘fuddy duddy’ category of old women. So be it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Birthday Inspiration

Anticipating his milestone birthday, Hubby was adamant about not having a celebration. "Not even dinner with a couple of friends?” I asked.


“How about just you and I dining in a fancy restaurant?”

“Nah,” he answered, “let’s just go to the local Chinese place.”

I wanted to honor his wishes, but damn it! This was an occasion to be marked. As one of our friends said later, “Millions of people are denied the privilege of making it to this age.” I continued to think about some kind of celebration, which wouldn’t be big or splashy, that would do justice to the occasion.

Three weeks before his birthday, Hubby received a solicitation for a summer donation from one of his favorite charities, a local feeding program for homeless people called OPERATION: Sack Lunch. He set the plea-letter down. “I wish I could give her (referring OSL’s founder, Beverly Graham) an additional donation now—but she’ll just have to wait until later in the year,” he said sadly.

Eureka! An idea came to me. Bev Graham is a wonderful singer/entertainer, as well as the executive director of OSL. Could I get her to sing Happy Birthday to him? He’s been a consistent and generous donor to OSL for almost twenty years. What if I made a donation to OSL instead of buying him a big gift? Would Bev come to a small party in our home?

The thought intrigued me, but I was reluctant to ask. What if she said no? Wouldn’t I be embarrassed? I ran my idea past a friend. "It's a fabulous idea," she said. So . . . I suppressed my feelings of presumptuousness, screwed my courage to the sticking place (thanks, Lady Macbeth), and e-mailed Beverly Graham through the OSL Web site.

Bev's response came almost immediately. “Yes, in a heartbeat . . . but I’m going to be in town that weekend. How about this though... Send me his favorite songs... I will video a special birthday concert and send it over to where you can grab it for his birthday."

Suddenly the suprise party plans were underway! I invited a few friends, family and neighbors for cake and ice cream on the afternoon of Hubby’s actual birthday, which this year fell conveniently on Sunday.

“No Gifts,” I wrote on the invitation. Then, in a flash of inspiration, I added: “If you're one of those people who insists on bringing a gift anyway, please consider making a small donation to OPERATION: Sack Lunch in Hubby’s honor. OSL is a non-profit organization he has generously supported since its inception. You can read about it at I'll have a bowl out to accept OSL gifts.”

The party was fun and the fund-raising results were astonishing! Between the donation I made in his honor to thank Bev for her lovely hour-plus concert sung just for him (and videoed on DVD to be played at the party ) and the generosity of hubby's friends and family, more than $1,000 was raised for OSL.

Best of all, Hubby is still smiling about how his dreaded milestone-birthday brought some much needed cash to OPERATION: Sack Lunch.

And . . . I’m breathing a sigh of relief. The celebration was a huge success.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009



As I struggled with three hefty boxes at the post office in mid January, a fellow customer caught my eye and jested, “Hope that’s not a late Christmas for someone.”

“I’m just early for next year,” I replied, and immediately felt smug and clever, despite it being a bald-faced lie. What I was holding were the earthly remains of a thirty-five-year love affair with a beach house.

After much agonizing, my sister and I had put up for sale the cozy ocean-side house we inherited from our parents. Owning it had become a burden, and six of our seven (combined) offspring did not live close enough either to use or help maintain it. After two years on the market, we accepted an offer with a short closing date. Not only were we given just ten days to vacate thirty-five-years of seasonal habitation, but those ten days happened within the octave of Christmas. My sister and I, both middle-aged matrons, sacrificed our traditional holiday activities (and the stress accompanying them) to weed out and pack up the house. Dragging along our good-natured husbands, we rented a U-haul and began to clean and sort.

What do a box of fortune sticks, a hand-held fog horn, a bullet-proof glass brick, and a floral-chintz apron from the 1950s have in common? All were items requested by our grown-up kids, favorite things they remembered from their summers at the ocean. As soon as the house sale was finalized, I had called my four kids to break the news. They’d all been hoping, not so secretly, that the beach house would never sell, even though everyone knew it was too lovely not to catch someone’s eye eventually. To ease the sting of the cabin’s dissolution, I asked each of them, “If you could have three things from the house, what would they be?” My sister asked the same question of her three grown children.

So there we were a couple of days after Christmas, my sister and I, cleaning and pulling things from closets and shelves—making decisions about what to dispose of, move, or leave for the new owners, as well as what to pack up for our kids. While our husbands scrubbed down storage sheds and made innumerable trips to the dump, we sorted through accumulated stuff to determine what would be salvaged.

Interestingly, there was little conflict among our kids about who got what, with the exception of a pair of wooden salt and pepper shakers painted to look like chefs, their pouring holes on the top of white hats. “Salty,” written in cursive, was inscribed under one dopey face and “Peppy” under the other. One kid from each of our families listed Salty and Peppy as their favorite thing, citing their fondness for the chirping sound that each emitted as it was shaken over the receiving food.

“Salty and Peppy were the essence of what we loved about the beach,” explained my Minneapolis-based son to me on the phone.

“Corny, comfortable, and fun,” said his cousin in San Francisco, who ended up drawing the long straw via surrogate, his mother and my sister.

Our offspring—who as little kids had blown bubbles in front of the house and watched them blow “all the way to Japan” when the wind prevailed from the east, staggered through sand on short chubby legs, got sunburned and bitten by sand flees, and developed itchy rashes from wading in salt-water—now were grown up.

Our children—who as grade-school kids had dreamed big dreams as they flew kites from the dunes, shared secrets in front of the crackling fireplace-fire, discovered carcasses of seals and held their noses while exploring with fascination the decaying flesh, and fought over Clue and Parcheesi and Rummy Royal—were living their own independent lives.

Our kids—who as teenagers sneaked beer and cigarettes to campfires, saw and comprehended the Milky Way for the first time, and set off fireworks purchased from the local reservation with their own money (as well as a few illegal bottle rockets)— would need to find ways to make summer-time memories for their own families.

Those “kids” were now merely the addressees of packages containing what the postal insurance forms described as “Miscellaneous household items.” Items inside the packages were as diverse and individual as the people who’d requested them, the grandchildren of the owners who, by the time the cabin was sold, lived in seven separate cities and several states. Everyone was touched differently by those summers judging from what was shipped to them: a circa 1950 Waring Blender, a sturdy stainless teakettle, rusty fishing tackle, coffee mugs in collectible fire-orange colored Fiestaware, two dainty handmade bowls from Denmark, a frayed but warm hunting jacket worn by the grandfather and all his progeny over fifty years. Each box contained the three requested items and whatever favorite knick knacks the mother could cram into the box—a set of dessert plates, a sea-themed trivet, a hand-blown glass ashtray.

We also shipped beloved furniture to the kids who had room for it, too—an heirloom army trunk from the Spanish-American War, a graceful Danish-modern chair, a drop-leaf coffee table. My sister and I also wanted things—tableware, deluxe kitchen utensils, stoneware, coasters, cookbooks—and the U-haul truck we’d rented had room for a few pieces of beloved furniture we were determined to keep for ourselves. Somehow we would make room for them in our already crowded homes—like assimilating forlorn children into a foster family.

How do you pack up memories and ship them to someone? For starters, try cramming a box with beach-house collectibles. These images will tumble out when it's opened: a bell buoy’s flash on the horizon line, the roar of the wind during a sou’ester, the lunge of the waves, the scent of moist and salty air, even a little bit of sand.

Maybe I wasn’t kidding when I told the stranger at the post office I was shipping next year’s Christmas gifts. I had packed up gifts to last a lifetime and for every occasion—the memories of happy times.

Copyright ©2009 Sara J. Glerum

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saggy Day

What kind of blogger lets things get so out of hand that a week goes by with no new post? (Don’t answer.)

Preoccupation is the name of the game—a friend whose mid-forties son is in emotional hell; weather that can’t make up its mind so I, too, don’t know whether I’m feeling chilly or just right; a stalled writing project; yard projects I don’t want to do, like weeding; domestic chores I don’t want to do (although I did iron a dozen hankies for hubby and pressed out some major closet-wrinkles from two blouses); and contemplating the visit of my favorite three-year-old who arrives tomorrow afternoon (yes, she’s bringing her parents with her) to stay a few days. Lots to think about but little impetus to do anything about any of it.

The doldrums will pass; the company will arrive. By Sunday afternoon things will be hopping around here—and it will be fun! Now, though, I feel saggy and ready for a nap.

Oh, did I mention that soon I’ll be married to an old man? Hubby turns seventy tomorrow! Maybe that’s the source of my melancholia. So . . . I’ll try to stop fretting and enjoy the last of my “collective youth.”

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Changing schools in January of sixth grade can’t be easy for anyone, so I don’t pretend to have been uniquely traumatized when our family relocated. I had always loved school (well, maybe not the third grade), so I expected to admire my teacher, enjoy my classmates, and be accepted by all. But it wasn’t quite that easy. Moving from a big city to a small town, in itself, was tough. Moving from a Seattle neighborhood school that drew from upper-middle class families, to an Aberdeen school that drew from the entire socio-economic stratification, was a bigger adjustment than I was prepared for. I felt like an alien.

Sixth-grade girls weren’t any different then from today’s sixth-grade girls in their (un)willingness to assimilate a new girl. Periodically I was laughed at, teased, and ignored in class. I wasn’t sure how to relate to my teacher, either. Not only was Mr. B. my first male teacher, but his swaggering style took some getting used to. And then, there was his grammar. He frequently used adjectives when adverbs were required, and dropped his “g’s” in “ing” words, both of which I found shocking. (Back in 1952 our presidents weren’t talkin’ that way yet.) Having been steeped in the use of proper grammar since kindergarten, I was horrified to consider that maybe my knowledge of well-spoken English was greater than his.

The Girl Scout troop I joined in February eased the pain of assimilation slightly. Mine was the ‘secondary’ troop, not the one the most popular girls belonged to, but these girls were kind (instructed to be so by the leader, Mrs. Hayes) in our meetings. Little by little I began to feel better about my new situation, but I wasn’t the self-confident girl who had lived in Seattle. I stayed around our rented house (we were waiting to move into our permanent house until it was remodeled) after school and on weekends, too—not having anyone to invite over or neighborhood children whose networks I could join.

One day in March, my dad asked me if I’d enjoy presenting a marionette show for my classmates, providing Mother could arrange it with the teacher. I was more than willing. Marionettes were one of my passions—I had written several plays and performed them for our family and its Seattle friends and neighbors any number of times. By the time Mother was done “arranging,” I was committed for entertaining at an assembly of fourth, fifth and sixth graders the following week.

On the day of my presentation, my dad drove me to school with the puppet theatre in the back of the station wagon, and my marionettes carefully packed in tissue paper, their strings twirled tightly so they wouldn’t tangle. The play, about a terrible rooster who disturbs the family so much they eventually boil him up for Sunday dinner (he gets in the last word by crowing from the pot), did not offend its audience, as it surely would today. My entire collection of puppets was required for its cast—parents and two children, a farmer and a rooster, as I recall. I was all the voices and the characters, the sole stagehand and string-puller, including the incessantly crowing rooster. The play lasted all of ten minutes and received enthusiastic applause.

Immediately after the assembly, we broke for recess. I took up my standard place on the playground, next to the wall by the jungle gym, watching others play. Recesses were the loneliest part of the day. A tall girl approached me, smiling. She was in the other classroom of sixth graders, and in the other Girl Scout troop. “Hi,” she said. “I really liked your puppet show. Would you like to jump rope with me?”

That was how I met Karen.

By seventh grade, she had become my best friend. She remained my dearest friend throughout high school, even after my family moved back to Seattle in 1956. We corresponded passionately during our college years, sharing our world views, hopes and dreams, and secrets of our romances. We managed in-person visits at my family's beach house every summer, which allowed us languorous sun-bathing during which we updated each other about everything that mattered. After college for a few years we both lived in Seattle, but after the late ‘60s, we never lived in proximity again.

But a deep friend is a friend forever—and because we were both writers, we wrote lovely, long letters to each other over the years. Eventually, as long distance rates became affordable, telephones replaced the post office as our primary means of keeping up. We didn’t talk often, but whenever we called, we immediately took up where we left off. That’s how true friends are together.

On August 5, 2009, Karen left this earth after a prolonged health decline. During the past two years we enjoyed a renewed closeness because of our frequent communication. In the last six months we talked almost daily. Her departure leaves a gap in my life that cannot be filled by anyone else. She was my longest-running friend and dearer to me than any other. Her friendship for fifty-seven years enormously affected who I am and enriched my life in myriad ways. I feel privileged to have known her and will miss her always.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


On Thursday night at ten o’clock, my husband helped Sue carry the chair to her car.

I stood on the porch in the drizzling rain, watching them cajole it into the back of Sue’s station wagon like a lost cow being pushed into her farmer’s pickup. Then Sue—whom we’d known for only ten minutes—backed her cargo down our driveway and disappeared around the corner. My husband put his arm around me and squeezed my shoulder.

“You did it! Congratulations!”

“There went fifty years of my history,” I replied, pushing my way into the front hall and wiping what I hoped he’d think was rain from my cheeks.

“I can’t believe how fast it sold,” he said. “And now we have room for the new chair when it arrives Saturday.”

We closed up the house and turned in for the night—both exhausted from the flurry of activity that occurred within five minutes of placing our ad on our local e-classifieds three hours earlier. I’d received so many inquiries about the chair, I felt like stock trader with a hot initial offering. Not only did I have Sue’s promise to get to our house by ten o’clock, but I had three back-up buyers—all of whom would have come to my house at midnight if I’d let them.

My husband went right to sleep. I lay under the heavy covers, feeling the way I imagine a mother dog must feel when her puppies are given up for adoption. Even though its seat had torn and its fatigued springs pulled butts into it like quicksand, the chair had been a great piece of furniture in its day. Listening to the deep, rhythmic breathing of my husband’s sound sleeping, I stared at the ceiling and remembered.

It was early August, 1956. My mother, sister, and I were living in our new summer house, and Dad drove 100 miles on weekends to join us. Mother was in charge of furnishing the house, since we moved in with the bare-bones minimum—beds, a makeshift table made from a door on sawhorses, and outdoor chairs and chaises for the patio that doubled as indoor furniture in the evening.

Mother, like any red-blooded, fifties-era housewife, savored the idea of outfitting a second home on a sensible budget and twice a week hauled her purse and her teenaged daughters to the local-area furniture stores. While she pored over fabric books and window coverings, my sister and I would relentlessly investigate the stores’ inventory. We sat in every chair and couch, opened every bureau drawer and wardrobe. We loved alerting Mother to items she should consider.

We were not looking for a leather chair. But there it was, the color of horse chestnuts when they first pop out of their green prickly shells. Its back reclined ever so gently, and the matching ottoman invitingly cozy-ing up to it like a dog at its owner’s feet. The chair was dainty compared to those we had seen in hotel lobbies, exactly the right size for a house.

“Mother,” I yelled across the showroom. “Here’s the perfect chair!” Fingering the cool and velvety leather, I was sure she’d she would succumb to its charm. She walked over and glanced at the tag.

“Not at that price! We’re furnishing a beach cabin, not a manor house.”

“But try it! The back reclines. It’s so-o-o comfortable.”

My sister, who found the chair as alluring as I did, joined the campaign.

“You’re always telling us it’s the quality that counts. You can see it’s well made, Mother,” and, as though he were in collusion with her daughters, the salesman took the cue to elaborate on its masterful design and craftsmanship.

Although our mother looked stern, we could see her beginning to weaken. Suddenly I was seized with inspiration—our parents’ wedding anniversary was coming up.

“It could be Dad’s anniversary present, his very own ‘papa chair’ to relax in when he comes to the cabin. Oh, please, Mother, please.”

She was reconsidering, melting at the idea of this deliciously luxurious chair welcoming her tired breadwinner at the end of his workweek, not to mention the compliments she’d get on her exquisite taste. My sister and I each offered to contribute allowance funds, but the salesman cinched the deal when he assured her the chair could be delivered by that Friday. On our way back to the cabin, we stopped at the Five & Dime to buy yards of wide gift-ribbon in which to tie it.

When the cabin was sold thirty years later, the leather chair was one of the few things I coveted. Sure, it had seen better days—beach sand had been ground into it, a family dog had nibbled on its legs, grandchildren had wet their pants on it, jumped off its back, and toppled it in sibling wars—but the chair was still elegant. In the last ten years, however, it had become wrinkled and saggy—not unlike its owners. The decision to get rid of it was painful but necessary.

I lay in bed, still wide awake. I have always remembered the look on my father’s face fifty years ago when he walked into our cabin and saw the chair. He couldn’t stop smiling and, in fact, he grinned from ear to ear each time he settled into it for the duration of his lifetime. I pictured Sue when she walked into our home and saw the chair. She couldn’t stop smiling, either. Sitting in it, she murmured a little “o-o-oh,” paid cash on the spot and mentioned that it reminded her of the furniture in her grandparents’ house. She was confident she could repair the torn seat, and after we completed our transaction, she murmured “I love it.”

What a great way for the chair to leave, I suddenly realized. How much better this way than a trip to the dump! Fifty years is long enough for a piece of furniture to be in one family. “Bon voyage, chair,” I whispered into the darkness. Then, conjuring a mental picture of the handsome new addition to be delivered Saturday, I turned onto my side and joined my hubby in the oblivion of sleep. 2007

Copyright ©2009 Sara J. Glerum