Once upon a time, there was an elderly lady who lived in utter poverty. She purchased everything she owned from second hand shops where people often leave surprising things. A beautiful antique chair she’d found stood in a corner of her home for years. She knew nothing of its history, but she loved it, and sat in it often to read. But there came even harder times in her life. She was forced to move to such a small house, there was no room for her beautiful chair.
The chair went to her daughter’s house where it sat unappreciated and in the way. The daughter had a young boy who did all kinds of mischief and one day, in his mischief, he knocked over the antique corner chair that belonged to his grandmother and broke it into pieces. To hide his terrible crime, he attempted to glue the pieces together with school glue, only damaging it further. So the boy was referred to his grandmother to be punished for his irresponsibility and for his deceit. His grandmother, chose for his punishment to give the chair to the boy as a gift, making him promise he would one day fix what he had done. In her wisdom, she knew that what she was giving was not the gift of a broken chair.
Bound together by the promise, for years and years, everywhere the boy went, so went the chair. His grandmother passed away. The chair was damaged many more times, suffering unspeakable horrors and atrocities, until eventually, it was retired to an attic – nothing more than a box of worthless scraps – and forgotten there.
The boy became an old man himself. Reading a book on the Elizabethan period one day, he stared long at one of the pages in surprise. It was a picture of his grandmother’s chair! He closed the book with new found resolve. He took down the pieces and studied the wreckage in awe. Little by little he cleaned and sanded. One by one he hand-crafted the missing broken-off pieces. And where the wood was still missing, he created a putty from the sawdust to fill in the cracks.
The man finished the chair and after a time, he gave it as a gift to his granddaughter, because she loves it and she often sits in it to read. She knows a little of its history. The chair belonged once to her great-great-grandmother, and it bears permanent golden scars of homemade putty. A collector might think the chair ruined by those scars, but to the girl, they make it more beautiful. To her, those golden scars tell a story her grandfather shared with her, of a wise old woman who gave the gift of responsibility, and a boy who finally kept his promise.
© 2013 Anne Schilde
Author’s note: This piece was inspired by a post of the same name at Ermilia blog.