The colors kept peeling–grain by grain as the tiny sander hummed the only song it knows how to sing. The colors–the darkest of scarlet, ocean blue, and white.
This old rocking chair, it’s been in my family for years, a staple on the small front porch at my Grandparents’ home. The plan for the rocking chair on this day–a sanding of the old away and a fresh coat of paint–black to match the porch railing–black to compliment the new beehive yellow paint on the doors.
And the more the sander sang, layers of stories ingrained in that old rocker fell to the concrete–dust particles of memories covered the floor of a garage where I used to ride my bicycle as a child–hours upon hours, round and round, and me, singing Jesus loves me.
Brand new the rocking chair was red and I really don’t know whether my Grandpa Lackey bought the rocker or if it was a gift from someone. It was always on the porch for anyone who wanted to sit for a spell. And several years ago, the week I laid on the couch sick from anemia, my Daddy decided the old rocker needed a new paint job. It’s funny now as I look back on that week. I do believe Daddy and Mama thought I was near death–Mama went to her sewing machine, creating a new bed covering with ruffles with the smallest of blue flowers for me. And Daddy, painting the rocking chair white.
My Grandma Lackey, she had these cherry trees planted in the back yard and every season she fought tooth and nail with the birds for enough cherries to make one pie–just one pie was all she wanted. And she would hang rubber hoses in the tree, disguised them as snakes, hung aluminum pie pans among the limbs and there was this one time my AM/FM red battery operated radio went to missing. And there it was among the ripening cherries and the birds–music blaring as loud as that old radio would play–trying to scare the birds away.
Grandma hadn’t been out of the hospital long and she wanted to check on her cherries so she and myself, my children–her great grandchildren, my Mama, and our neighbor walked with her to see her beloved trees–her body still frail and weak. And my neighbor said, ‘I just don’t think Ruby’s going to pull out of this, do you?’, talking to my Mom. And I was so hurt and angry at her–her words cruel at the time, I thought. Words my heart didn’t want to hear.
The following month my Grandma passed away.
The Sunday after my Grandma’s funeral I saw my Grandpa sitting on the front porch–all alone in the red rocker. And I went to sit with him for a while. I asked him if he wanted to go into the house and rest and he said no. He was going to sit there. All day. He was expecting company, he said. Family and friends. No one ever came that day.
And the last color on the rocker, painted several years ago–ocean blue. The color was to be a reminder of the vibrant blues of the ocean and change. The roar of the waves–the sun glistening on the water, God’s breath in the winds, His mighty creation. Every time I experience this peace, this beauty, it changes me. Every. Single. Time.
It’s funny how simple things such as colors woven in an old piece of furniture can jolt memories–some hard to remember and some you never want to forget.
And the porch rocker–there won’t be any covering of the memories with black paint or any other color. Not today.