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Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Rocking Chair

My most valuable piece of furniture is an almost 19-year-old rocking chair. The fabric is faded, the wood is dinged and scratched, and it's missing a dowel or two. But this chair means more to me than anything I own. This chair is where I sat, during my third trimester, and talked to my son. This rocking chair soothed my aching back, relaxed my worried mind, and gave me a chance to start teaching my son I was a safe place.

After he was born, the rocking chair became something even more magical. He would nurse, his head supported by a pillow, and I would sing to him, or speak gently of the world. When he awoke in the middle of the night, the rocking chair provided us both somewhere to sleep: he in my arms, me, exhausted, head resting on the pillowed back. I would rock him when he was fussy, or when he just wanted me to.

As he grew, the rocking chair was a book nook. Many nights were spent perched on my lap as I read "Goodnight Moon," or "Guess How Much I Love You." He would giggle at Dr. Seuss, not necessarily understanding all the words, but falling in love with pictures. The rocking chair was where he learned the beginnings of the alphabet. And the rocking chair was where, when nightmares disturbed his sleep, we would sit quietly as I made the monsters go away.

I have other pieces of furniture that are more valuable, at least monetarily. My great-grandmother's couch, my mother's Chinese silk chair and ottoman. Nothing compares to the rocking chair.

Now, as our son looks to the start of the next phase of his life, I look at the rocking chair, and smile a slightly sad smile. I remember holding his hand in the park, the joy on his face when he met Mickey Mouse and Goofy at Walt Disney World, the first time he swam on his own. I remember his first Halloween, dressed as a puppy from "101 Dalmatians," struggling to hold his candy-filled pumpkin. I remember he and my mom having wheelchair races around my parents' condo. I remember when I was able to pick him up and hold him if the world got too big or scary.

I remember sitting in the rocking chair, with those huge blue eyes looking up at me, as I taught my son the wonders of life. I wish the world could stay that way; innocent, filled with belly laughs and Thomas the Tank Engine. We all have to grow up, though, we all change and move on.

So I will sit in the rocking chair, content that we have raised a truly remarkable man. I will daydream about one day holding a grandchild in my lap, rocking in the rocking chair, and reading "Goodnight Moon," while their little eyelids slowly close. And my smile will be less sad.