Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Person's Trash

Daddy's getting a new chair this week. Maybe as early as today. It's a geri chair, short for geriatrics. Pictures I've seen on the Web remind me of hospital patient chairs – the ones on wheels with a tray attached. Our hospice nurse recommended it.
We're hoping it will give Daddy a comfortable place to sit. Lately, as Alzheimer's progresses, he's having more and more trouble sitting up. He tends to lean. In fact, sometimes I'm afraid he's going to lean so far that he'll fall off the couch he sits on with Mama most of the day.
But to make room for the geri chair, we had to do some furniture moving. Mama and Daddy's main sitting area is their very small den. The most logical piece of furniture to move was an ugly blue upholstered rocker. It looks like a recliner, but it isn't. I don't put Daddy in it because it's a low piece of furniture, and it's too unsteady for him to stand up from.
I talked to my sister yesterday about the blue chair's future. I told her we could put it at the curbside, move it into the already crowded living room or throw away another chair from the living room and replace it with the blue chair. She suggested we talk to the sitters and see which chair they'd rather keep in the living room, where they often sit. The sitters preferred the chair they already use in the living room because the rocker is just too low and unsteady for them as well. So, it looked like the ugly rocker was on its way out the door. It seemed like the easy, sensible thing to do. I certainly didn't want it at my house, and neither did Susan.
I planned to have my husband move it out last night, thinking someone would probably pick it up from the curbside and take it home with them. I might even call the Red Cross, I thought, to see if they wanted it.
I happened to mention all of this to my daughter, Anna.
"Grandpa's getting a new chair," I said. I told her about the geri chair and how nice it would be to have somewhere that Grandpa could sit upright.
"But we'll have to get rid of that ugly old blue rocking chair," I said. "I'm going to have your dad move it to the curb tonight."
She looked at me with wide-open eyes.
"You can't get rid of that chair," she cried. "That's the chair they rocked us in!"
I looked at her, seeing not the 14-year-old she is now but the blond-headed toddler, clutching a blanket and sucking on a pacifier, sitting contentedly in her beloved grandmother's lap. I remembered a favorite photo of her brother on his first birthday, sitting in the chair in his Uncle Mike's lap. Robert's cheeks are flushed with fever from an ear infection and his eyes look weak.
I shake off the memories and look at Anna's concerned face.
"You're right," I told her. "We can't get rid of the chair."
The ugly blue rocker is not at the curb this morning. It's in the over-crowded living room where it will stay. As it turns out, it didn't need a new home after all.