01 May 2018

Life's Leftovers

Jim and I started the clean-out of Dad’s house when he entered the Veteran’s Home two years before, but we knew it would take a while. Now the situation was serious. The realtor told us that it needed to be completely empty to sell. Dad had taken up new residence in the Veteran’s Cemetery. His spirit had traveled off, completely shedding all his earthly possessions.

The family had gone through the old home, selecting keepsake items. We had carefully boxed up letters, documents, and family histories. It was time for the estate sale. We walked through the rooms once more. Maybe we could fit one more piece of furniture into the back of our car. Our children had already loaded their cars with the extra “stuff” we thought valuable when they had traveled home from the funeral.

A knock at the door interrupted our conversation. It was an older sister, a long-time friend of both our families, Sister Snow. She said she wanted to see the house one more time, and maybe she would select something to take home, just for remembrance. Her eyes took in the red, white and blue wallpaper in John’s old bedroom. “I helped put that paper up,” she told us. She picked up a spoon from the worn silver in the dining area. “I think I want this,” she said.

I had considered the old chair in the master bedroom. It had pink upholstery, my color. But the paint was worn out on the arms, and the chair’s seat sagged a bit. I passed it by. But Sister Snow didn’t. “The Relief Society chair!” she exclaimed. “This chair came from the Boulder City Ward Relief Society room where both your mothers’ attended every Tuesday morning.” She examined the chair more closely, smiling at her memories. “There were only three with arms like this,” she told us. “Your mother, Rose, got this one when they replaced the chairs in the room with the standard Church Relief Society chairs,” she said to Jim.

“I absolutely insist that you take this home with you,” she said. Her insistence was unnecessary. I, too, was remembering. I remembered how nice the Relief Society room in the Boulder City Ward church was. There was even a small bathroom immediately adjacent to the room. Nothing but the best for the Relief Society sisters. I’m sure those were the thoughts of both bishops involved in the building of that chapel, Jim’s dad first and then my father. As youth, we were forbidden to take food or drink into the room, and we treated it with reverence.

Suddenly the chair looked wonderful to me. The saggy seat and imperfectly preserved paint on its arms seemed to hug me as sat in it once more. I remembered our mothers’ faithful attendance in Relief Society, and our fathers’ respect for the valiant women of our ward. The Relief Society chair has a treasured place in my own bedroom now. I think I’ll sit there and reminisce a bit on Mother’s Day this year.