Monday, August 24, 2020

New Memories on an Old, Tattered Cushion




Rich oak with its lovely wood grain pattern, carved spindles in back, plush blue seat cushion with flecks of white stars, the rocking chair has occupied a prominent space in three different homes.  We had just moved cross-country and were renting a temporary place. I bought the chair for a corner in the family room with good light for reading and knitting.   Two years later we purchased our own home and the chair fit beautifully in the master bedroom. I placed it right by the sliding glass doors with a clear view of slender madrone trees and the booming pink bougainvillea along the fence.   Eventually, we relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.   We’ve been here twenty-five years.  The rocking chair’s current spot is in my writing studio with a window view of tall green pines, blue sky and cottony clouds.   The wood remains in good shape, but the blue seat pad is a bit ragged.  I bought a new cushion a while ago, but have resisted making the change.  The frayed, worn seat pillow holds old memories to hang onto and fresh relationships to cultivate.

The core of the chair’s importance began when it was new and so was my granddaughter.  Seeing me warm her bottle, she’d toddle straight to the rocker, look up at me with those glorious brown eyes and tap her little hand on the cushion.  When I approached, she would reach her arms up and I’d scoop her in settling us both into the chair cozy and safe.  Bottle empty and baby asleep in her crib Sunny, my cherished Cocker Spaniel, would jump onto the rocking chair and look at me with his endless love eyes.  Unable to resist, I’d sidle in beside him and share time and warm feelings with the sweetest dog in the world.   Lovely granddaughter is grown now and Sunny’s ashes enhance a flowering shrub in a pot on the deck.  I hold dear the cherished memories of years gone by and revel in the latest joys gifted me sitting in a rocking chair with  threadbare cushion.  

Today I watch the nightly news from my rocker.  The news being so depressing, I wonder why I allow my psyche to be assaulted, but halfway through my inner lamenting I’m saved.  Rescue kitty, Abner, rescues me.  Abner loves to rock.  He has two approaches.  He plops in my lap from nowhere, or he rubs back and forth on my feet until I pick him up.  When he plops, I stroke his head and back.  When I pick him up he allows cradling (like a baby) and rubbing of chest and tummy.  Often he has a lot to say, purring and mewing while I pet and chat back and the drudge of the news fades in the background.   Cat William wants no part of this rocking nonsense (I tried, he hissed), so I meet him where he’s willing to meet – in my lap on the couch and beside me in bed, but little pup Dusty Quinn is all in.  Dusty, with so many issues to conquer, has been comfortable from the get go hopping on my lap for rocking chair sessions.   His body relaxing with the gentle movement he leans in close, his trust easing my mind, his sweet presence touching my soul, the connection of gentle strokes comforting two spirits.   I’m sure there are some who’d say this behavior on my part takes away the superior role we humans are supposed to play with pets, but I don’t feel superior, don’t always see man as the higher animal.   Yes, I have rules and schedules I expect my critters to follow, but I also believe there is a sameness that links living beings.  We all respond to and deserve love and respect.  And so I interact with William in ways he allows and sway back and forth with Abner and Dusty creating new rocking chair memories on an old, tattered cushion.   

William and Abner


Dusty Quinn