A Life’s Work.
I have a pair of my Great Grandmother Chamberlain’s chairs that I do use and pull up a seat in all of the time. They were in her home, and I remember them as a kid visiting her. My Great Aunt Jacquie was physically challenged. She lived at home with her mother her whole life until her mother, herself, became an invalid. She stitched the seats of these two chairs with her two beautiful hands and many other items. I was lucky enough to be in my late teens when G Grandma passed so I got to know her and my Aunts a good bit.
I inherited the chairs after my mother passed and they are now in my home. I am one that uses furniture from the past preferably. I do take great care of them because they are my history and precious to my past, so enjoying them in the present day in my home is lovely. It was once said to me “life is for the living, use it”… and so I do.
My Aunt Jacquie had Cerebral Palsy her whole life. Her walk, stance, hands and voice were all affected by it. She used chairs to walk around the house. G Grandmother thought she needed to move the body so the use of a wheelchair was rare although she had one. She would crop herself up behind the chair as straight as she could and then push it sliding her feet to get from point A to point B. She seemed to manage and that was just the way it was for her. As a kid I didn’t think much about it, stared a bit at first until she stared back and then laughter came and everything was normal again. She had a huge smile.
Her physical being really wasn’t a big deal to me, but I wanted to hear what she had to say when she did speak just because I did not understand the physical challenge. She spoke with a blur and the self concentration on words exhausted her. I could understand her but it was hard and as a child I was only permitted to ask so many questions. Most times, I thought it was more stress on my parents seeing me wanting to be with her so much asking questions as I do, but back in those days of my youth it was considered impolite to bother the adults. Old and new times are so different now.
Aunt Jacquie was brilliant in her writings and did type up and translate many old speeches and letters of ancestors from the past so they could be read and legible for present eyes. I could only imagine the lonely life she had and sitting there typing word by word letters and scripts. She also helped with the accounting with the family business. But she is one dear person I do remember who really taught me to do things I really like. She was brilliant in seeing that I was bored and took me under her broken little wings to pick me up during those dinners in her San Francisco home. So, one day she told me to sit and proceeded to teach me how to work the needles. She told my mother to go into the other room and I there I was, all by myself, with my Aunt Jacquie learning how to knit and crochet. Knitting didn’t pan out for me, but crochet was easy enough to do and I even made some money from selling patches and blankets when I first moved out of the house at 17.
Today, I use these chairs under my desks. I have a few desks at home, and there is no special reason why I have a few desks other than I like work spaces and I like the chairs under them.
I find that having those memories and the chairs are priceless remembrances of love being passed down to me. At one time I wanted to re purpose them, but I just can’t muster the guts up to do that. Ironically, she would have done just that because every year she would update these with new seats along with the settees in the home too. So they went from old and new yearly with her little hands.
So here is some advice from Mrs. Shecky: Put your best loved items in front of your face. Find a spot in the house and settle them in. Make new memories and use them with love. If you have kids I would like to say put the items out and let them see it all so you can tell the tales. I am one of 6 kids and my house was full of items from the past hanging on the walls and on the tables as vignettes. That is why and how I learned about past members of family and of those times in my history. Connect them to your daily lives. Use them. What are you waiting for? Use them.
Til Next Time,