The Rocking Chair

Johnny helps his father clean out his home and is instructed to bring his fathers favorite rocking chair to his nursing home warning him, “Not a scratch on it!”

On a Sunday afternoon, I found myself packing my father’s possessions after he moved into a nursing home. The dust gave me a bad cough, but I promised I’d take care of it today. He wanted everything in storage, except an old oak rocking chair he built in the fifties, he wanted that with him in his room. “Johnny, bring it today!” he said. He added specifically, “and not a scratch on it!” I can’t count how many times I heard that. I got it, not a scratch on it.

I parted and packed everything I could reasonably touch without having to rinse and wash my hands profusely. An ancient odor filled the air and stuffed my lungs making it difficult to breathe. I packed my car to the windows leaving the trunk for the rocking chair. I spied the chair in the living room, sitting in front of the television. Loving memories filled my mind of my father proudly sitting in that chair while we gathered around.

The chair sat still. As it should. Many years that chair rocked back and forth, never making a sound. I picked it up, carrying it out of the house. The door frame was thirty-six inches. I twisted the chair and turned it through the door, it smacked the frame. I sat it down, sweat poured down my face as I inspected it, but it was fine. Picking it back up I flipped it around on its diagonal axis finally getting it through the door without another bump. My heart pounded. The shirt I wore felt soaked from nervous sweat.

Carrying the chair across the lawn I struggled to grasp my car keys to pop my trunk. I nearly dropped the chair. Turning the chair on its side I placed it inside my car. Finally, I could relax. I slammed my trunk.

My father’s nursing home was only a short ten-minute drive. Bittersweet memories flashed through my mind again. Memories of him on that rocking chair watching his two daughters and son open Christmas presents while he rocked back and forth. Memories I’ll never forget. He loved watching us from that chair. He was the mountain and king in the house.

At the intersection of Shady Grove and Parkway, I forgot about the pothole that the city neglected. My car bounced over the bump. The kind of bump that made you say out loud, “that sounded expensive.” The chair was in a tight fit, I’m sure it was fine. I hoped.

I parked my car at his nursing home and popped open my trunk. The chair appeared fine. Grabbing it by its legs, I pulled it out, turning it around to rest. Upon sitting on the black pavement I heard a scathing sound of wood and rock. I picked it up and sure enough, there was a scrape down the backend of the leg with chipped wood. My father may not notice the back. He could barely stand, much less bend his back to inspect his favorite chair.

I carried his chair to his room. Thankfully, the door frames were forty-eight inches and I could safely bring it inside. He was sitting on the bed, inspecting me, and thanking me for bringing it. I placed the chair down on the soft carpet. There was no denying it, his eyes saw the chipped wood. He became irate as I’ve never seen him before. “Not a scratch on it!” he said. He was suddenly decrepit and deranged. My father collapsed to the floor and never rocked in his rocking chair again.

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