Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Children and the Chair

I did a little furniture shopping last night with my two youngest children (6 and 8 years old).  They LOVE going to the furniture store.  I don't know why.  They also love open houses.  Maybe they'll be professional stagers someday?

Anyway, I was looking for a chair to replace the leather one I have in my TV room that has kept us comfortable for years, but is starting to look like it has kept us comfortable for years.  It has a hole in one arm, the piping is starting to rip, and the ottoman broke some time last winter.

So my two kids were running around, marveling at the new seating technology that's out there - apparently now you can not only get a recliner that has a heated seat, you can also press a button so that the foot part automatically comes up for you.  I find it sad that before you sit down with your potato chips and beer, you don't even have to exert the effort to recline.

But I digress (as always).

They were so busy that they didn't even think to ask what I was shopping for until we were leaving the store empty-handed.

"I'm trying to find a new leather chair because the old one is ripping," I said

"But you can't get rid of that chair," said my youngest, alarmed.  "That was Daddy's chair.  That's like throwing him away."

She was only a year old when he died and and too busy being a toddler to really comprehend all that we had already had to go through of my husband's - either throwing away, donating, or passing on to loved ones - to really know what was going on.  There are boxes of his things that I've kept, but through the last 5 years we have really whittled down the things that were his.

It's so strange to me that we are going through this 5 years later, but I guess it makes sense.  She didn't understand what was going on way back then, but she does now.  So getting rid of something that was her dad's is as fresh to her now,...because she "gets it" it was to me years ago.

"I know," I said, turning to her in the car.  "I know it was Dad's.  But it wasn't Dad.  We have lots of memories of Dad and we always have him with us.  The chair isn't him.  It was just something that he had."

It's hard to explain something like that to your kid when you don't entirely understand it yourself because you are incredibly sad to be giving away your husband's chair.  Who am I to convince her that she shouldn't be?

At that moment, my son (who was 3-years-old when his dad died) said, "Mom...where is dad?"

"What do you mean?" I asked him in surprise.  "You know where he is.  He's buried up in the mountains."

"Yeah, but what exactly did we bury?"

Now, I've explained cremation to my kids before but, as with the chair, with age and wisdom often comes confusion.  So even though we've already been through this, it was time to go through it again, this time in more detail explaining what cremation is (without completely scarring them) and what we buried.

"So we just stuck his ashes in a box?" he asked me, like we had just thrown his dad into what my newest pair of Adidas came in and dropped him in the ground.

"No...I got a pretty box that most people call an urn and that's what's in the mountains."

"Wait.  What are ashes?"  my youngest piped in from the backseat.

Oh, Lord.

I just wanted to buy a new chair.

Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014).  She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.


  1. Okay this may be obvious, but you could just reupholster the chair if your kids really want to keep it. Just a thought.:) And isn't it amazing how you can be doing something 'innocent' yet it triggers unexpected questions from the kids. Inquiring minds want to know! :)

    1. You know, I thought about that a while ago, but it was just because I was having a hard time letting it go. I didn't realize it would be so hard on my kids. My mom has now generously offered to store it in her basement, too. She understands how something that may not make any sense to anyone else might mean so much.

      I don't think I said that right! :>)

  2. It's amazing the "things" we deem "Dad's" when Dad passed away a year ago in June. I am about to go through that with replacing a TV that he was so excited to get when he bought it years ago. My sons are adults, and I know that some "things" really mattered to them and some didn't, it's weird. I tell you though, your book was recommended to me by a young widow that I met in a GriefShare class at our church and I loved it so much I am reading it a second time. You absolutely NAILED so many aspects of grief and being a widow it was crazy. I never thought I would laugh as much as I did reading it either - which was refreshing, you crack me up sista!! Thank you for writing it and being so incredibly transparent in your writing, it was so good to see that I am not the only one who had/has the thoughts you wrote about. Forever grateful!