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The Crochet Chair

by Sindy Leah Fitz about a month ago in family
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Family Chain Uncovered

An old chair sits quietly alone separated from anything that seems familiar in a darkened attic room put away for safekeeping, or perhaps just forgotten. The golden fabric left dull with a light coating of dust and a faint scent of musty wood, nestled in a corner pushed against the slanted walls of the roof line even though the bare plywood was in harsh contrast to the polished wooden accents this chair became lost. The raised floral patterns worn to smoothness as this chair found purpose and great use once in its lifetime. A bit scuffed, tattered and worn but obviously having some importance to be stored away for such a long amount of time.

Pushing the door open with a bit of a shove as the resistance of the swollen wood creaked as the breaking of a seal. Nervous jitters in my stomach every time so I rarely enter the attic; it always feels like an adventure in an ominous way. Light shines over a small corner of this old chair just enough to catch my eye as I scan the room waiting for my eyes to focus and clear. Dust swirling around the room begins to settle gracefully on broken boxes, crumpled papers, and mismatched holiday decorations. Carefully tucked into corners and stacked precariously with no particular order other than thick black words hardly legible, well perhaps with a tilted head and some imagination words appear; x-mas, halloween, kitchen and misc. Which hardly ever actually contains what it denotes.

With an inhale and a quick tuck of my stomach as I squeeze through rows of boxes to the furthest lengths of the attic I finally reach this misplaced misfit of a chair. Not really knowing where it had even come from obviously an antique but unrecognizable as far as decor. I had never seen anything like it before. Looking back towards the doorway and the small opening I shimmied through to get to this point. Pondering on how I would bring this chair into the light to get a better look at it and maybe bring it back into a living space with a little tlc. I am always trying to find ways to start new projects and this seems like a worthy candidate to practice my procrastination it is a skill I am well versed in one of few I have mastered.

So with much effort and lost time I found myself in the hallway with this odd little chair staring back at me as to remind me that I hadn't even finished the task that brought me to the attic in the first place. A distant thought that I can’t even consider attempting right now it will just be for another day. I truly don't even want to be bothered with looking for some book I thought I had packed away. This was far more intriguing so with a resonant slam I shut the door and the mystery began. Looking back at this moment I maybe should have chosen to forgo this journey for this was about to unravel in ways I would never have expected.

Looking at this neglected piece of furniture it almost seemed to have a sense of personality. It appears happier if that can even be so, the sadness that drew me over in that dark corner has washed away with the bright light of day shining on it through the nearby window. Gently cleaning the fabric uncovering the delicate patterns and the shiny glimmer of threads that were less worn in areas left fairly untouched. But my favorite areas are where you can see arms had rested and fingers traced the designs on the edges of petals and leaves like a master artist willed into being. The worn wood had been rubbed to a lighter color with a shine and a softness different than that of the rigid arms. Rubbed with nervous fingers maybe even held tightly in arguments, slammed by open hands and pushed off in urgency to escape the confines of a restriction that held back emotions of happiness, or great fear. Oh, secrets of this chair are limitless and innumerable. Excitement was building in me as I hurriedly tried to find markings, clues, anything that may give me the tiniest insight to my dreams that I am letting run wild in my helplessness I felt towards this chair to find its answers and give it the respect it deserved.

Deep creases of the chair finally reveal a small but significant clue. Pulling at what could have been anything really. it slid gently from the darkness that must have held it captive for years. Yellowed, folded, but so soft almost fabric like as my fingers poured over what turns out to be a slip of paper a pattern for sewing perhaps, not being exactly skilled with sewing knitting or the such I truly wasn't sure what I was looking at as I carefully moved the paper back to its natural state it began to crack and fall apart as if the light was destroying the fragility of what I'm sure was made at one point to be tossed into drawers or placed with needles and thread in an old can with buttons falling in and out of its folds. In the light I glimpsed at the words that were falling to the floor and trying to hold on to every delicate scrap so I can piece it together like that of a jigsaw puzzle.

The words were printed with a font so blurry and hard to decipher I strained with much excitement to be able to master the text and its meaning. The wording was odd and clearly in a foreign language I wasn't privy too but still investigating the artwork that was printed showed what could have been a hat of some sort a bonnet to be more precise, I think anyway. The faded color seemed gray but I am certain at one point it was pitch black the fading due to the aging forced me to lean in a bit closer. I squinted to search for something recognizable to my eye. Lavender and an odd scent of tobacco was present as I closed my eyes to recall a memory of a scent I was accustomed to as I grew up with the smell lingering down the hallway to my bedroom as a child no matter how many times my father attempted to quit smoking I found him leaning against the framed opening of the backdoor which was cracked open no matter the weather, his calloused fingers clasped the hot end of his hand rolled cigarettes that took precise making until it was so easily discarded with a tight pinch and swift flick into the air like fireworks burning to ash as it fell to the ground. Greedily I found myself pressing this broken paper to my lips so I could draw it in like a drag from a antiquated cigarette hoping to find a deeper meaning possibly by some form of osmosis, as my eyes opened and I was transported back to this time and place I began to form an analytical plan to translate the wordage that had baffled me.

Blindly selecting phrases which seemed to have importance, clumsily I typed each letter as I searched through results offered up by this machine that is clearly more intelligent than I could ever be. I found some vague references to Italian crocheted baby bonnets in an antique pattern library that miraculously match and as far as I can figure it seems to have been printed from 1860 to 1909. Finally, I have something to go by, yes, of course Italian. Now, at least I have narrowed it down to one side of my family. Noticing the time, 10:27pm so much of my day and night has been spent pouring over miniscule details of a chair, well that is truly not fair to its distinction since it seems to be a living breathing husk of memories waiting to be stripped away no matter how exhaustive. The excitement of it all has halted time and space for me at least however it's far too late to be calling on family members to make inquiries so it will have to wait till morning.

As I lie in my bed waiting on my mind to stop describing scenarios and pitching new ideas. Hoping for some divine intervention maybe in the form of a relative reaching from beyond to give me a hint I managed to fall asleep. As I awoke in the early morning hours the sun just gleaming in casting its light on that beautifully haunting chair in a mocking way I found myself speaking with it like a child or a pet. Come on let's find out what you've been up to I taunted the chair I have become very fond of in such a short period of time even though it had been waiting endlessly in a dark corner of our shared home. Gathering everything I knew I made my way to the kitchen table. Notebook in hand and pen at the ready for what I was sure was going to be an informative and eye opening session once it was late enough in the morning to phone my mother as I wanted her to be sharp and not groggy from having just woke up. I doodled a bit sketching leaves and petals I had memorized from the fabric intoxicating me with the giddiness of a child I finally dialed my mother's number waiting with every ring for her to answer hoping to hear her voice awake and as eager for the day as I am to share stories of this mystery chair.

Hello she muttered clearing her voice, Hey mom I found something I need your help with. In true mom fashion concern and eagerness filled her voice. Realizing I was speaking so fast and hardly stopping to breathe I had laid out all the information I had in a matter of seconds, I'm sure mom's head was swirling but she took it in stride and paused a moment to try and sort the facts out in her mind before she could explain them to me. It felt like forever before her first words echoed through me like I was a hollow, filling me as I held on to her every word like nuts tucked away by a squirrel. Then I fumbled with my pen and began to write down what she had told me even at some points I was so caught up and enthralled that my imagination animated whole scenes in my head as if I were at a picture show finding that I haven't wrote any of it down which I would rectify later while it was still fresh.

In my minds eye I could picture my great great grandmother sitting in this chair crocheting baby bonnets for her nine children her delicate fingers moving the needles and string in a pattern that seemed to be orchestrated by complex notes and scales to keep her in a rhythm to sustain her while she cleared her mind from the anticipation of birthing a beautiful new baby and found peace sitting in this chair.

During unimaginable sadness I saw her crying dwelling and anguishing over the loss of three of her children numbing herself in the emptiness of calculated movements as she crocheted for hours at night when no one noticed she was gaining her strength to care for her remaining children and afford them the life of a mother with the appearance of sanity although I imagine it was quite impossible at times.

In this chair she sat having meaningful conversations with her children at her feet, uncomfortable ones as well. I saw them using their fingers tracing those raised gold leaves and petals that shined much brighter then, allowing them to feel at ease as they confessed to some wrongdoing that she had already forgiven them for. On occasion my great grandmother being the baby of the family would crawl onto her lap and get tangled in the yarn while she nuzzled her and playfully measured her feet for some new slippers to keep her toes warm on a cool night.

Listening to her children making life plans and knowing some were mistakes but listened intently and offered comfort and advice whether or not it would be taken is a constant in every generation. Hearing her sons presentation accompanied by a bouquet of lavender he picked from the garden to soften the blow on why he wants to join the military and the fear that caused her to grab tight to the arms of this chair as she wished she could have held him in her arms to never allow him to leave and be in harm's way.

On holidays she would find everyone singing and practicing skits for the school play while homework still had to be done and math questions being asked she secretly counted on her fingers to come up with the sum pretending to be crocheting. I saw her smiling when her daughters blushed while talking about their sweethearts and the way her sons watched over them as great protectors. Especially when they threatened to tell mom even though she had already known about their first kiss.

This chair shared uncertainty as she sat discussing with her husband how they would be able to move to another country to start over as he nervously had one cigarette after the next. Planning how she would follow him after he had settled in America. The worry for her family as her hands would shake as she steadied them on the back rest as she paced back and forth behind this chair. The anxiety that caused her to crochet the knots too tight as she waited for five years to be reunited with him.

I was shaken to my very core. It resonated with me in a place so deep inside I rarely even knew it well enough to navigate through all the emotions I had to find it, even more so to try and find it again to recall everything. So I diligently made notes, lots of notes and by the end of our conversation I could hear the weariness in mom's voice. I had tired her out before she was able to even have her breakfast. For that I was truly sorry, but like every family story we laughed about antidotes and crazy situations and mourned for more tragic tales as these were all our stories each one of us belonged to, just as if they happened directly to us. They formed us who we are, what we've done where we live, how we love, why we cry and on occasion how we hate. It's all ours the good the horrid the amazing the devastating and with that it makes it more bearable knowing that your family your ancestors live in you with you through you and for you. You are never alone, not even in the darkest rooms, the forgotten corners or with or without air in your lungs you are never alone.

family

About the author

Sindy Leah Fitz

"Everyone is different and that is what makes everyone special." However, change through curiosity is the true mark of character. Let's explore all that is to be uncovered. Join me to look at life through as many lenses as possible.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (3)

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  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    Such beautiful and descriptive writing. You have expressed so many emotions in this really lovely story.

  • Nash Ryderabout a month ago

    Great writing, honestly inspiring

  • Kelvin Athena about a month ago

    Somehow makes me want to hug my mom and tell her all my emotional burdens in life😔

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