The Green Chair w/Rounded Armrests

When I look at my 5 year old, I see my dad.  Her mannerisms, her sense of humor, the way her mind works, are entirely my dad (the poor kid even looks like his side of the family).  I make sure to tell her all about the things her Pop Pop did and how much she reminds me of him.  She gives me an awkward smile but doesn’t quite understand.  She wasn’t even 6 months old when my dad died (My oldest was fortunate enough to spend a few years with my dad and have a boarderline photographic memory).  Her memories of him are a mixture of what I have told her and pictures in photo albums. She has no memory of him otherwise.

I have been told, by relatives that knew him, I remind them of my Pop Pop.

I give them the same awkward smile Emma gives me, because I was 5 when my Pop Pop died. My memories of him are a mixture of stories told by my parents and pictures of him in photo albums. In my 5 years with him, I only have limited memories of him.

I can remember him talking to me but I can’t hear his voice.  I remember how tall he was and that his hair was the same color as the black frames of his glasses but can’t remember his smile without looking at a picture.  I don’t know what he called me but I know I ran when he did.  I don’t remember the last time he said “I love you” or the day he died.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t remember him at all.

There is one vivid memory I have.  A memory I keep close to me, because I am afraid if I don’t, I might forget it and in turn forget him.

My Pop Pop had a green chair.  A green chair he sat in regularly.  A green chair with rounded armrests.  When he would sit in the chair regularly and regularly, my cousin Joey and I would crouch behind the green chair with the rounded armrests.  Giggling and full of toddler energy, my cousin and I would reach around the chair and nip, pick, and grab at our Pop Pop then quickly retreat behind the chair again.  In a booming voice dripping with over exaggeration, Pop Pop said, “Who’s behind my chair?” To which my cousin and I would respond in high pitched, half giggling, “No one.”  With that, my grandfather would reach behind his green chair with the rounded armrests with arms that seemed longer than garden hoses.  We would try to fight off his hands only to lose and run in front of his chair and him.  He would scoop us both up in his arms.  Sometimes I think I remember his green chair with rounded armrests more than him?  But without that chair, I may not remember him at all so I hold on to it as tightly as my grandfather held on to my cousin and I.

Emma doesn’t have that with her Pop Pop.  She will have to look at pictures in photo albums and rely on my memories of my dad, her grandfather, to fill her thoughts.  No matter how many times she hears how she is like her Pop Pop, she’ll only be able to smile awkwardly or ask,

“Daddy, is that what Pop Pop would have done?”

“He sure would have Em.”

“I’m just like him aren’t I Daddy?”

“You sure are sweetheart.”

Maybe that’s why I am so eager to fill her memories with my dad.  Because I’m hoping, even though she may have not made the memories, as she gets older, one day she’ll be able to tell her own green chair with rounded armrests stories.

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8 responses to “The Green Chair w/Rounded Armrests

  1. This was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Eerily, my 6 yr old daughter today just started crying out of nowhere because she missed her Pop Pop. This was a beautiful story.

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  2. Sorry your dad is no longer here. Mine passed when I was 22…I often feel sad my kids never met him. I take comfort in how much my #2 reminds me of him. He is a mini Joe T…and a mini-me. No matter who on the T side of my family meets my Spencer, it automatically turns into talking about my dad. It is fun and scary all the same. My dad was a joker, a 52 yo kid, everyone loved him and I see that in my son…let’s me have a little piece of him even though he’s gone.

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    • I feel the same way about Emma. Its fantastic and a little sad and like you said, it lets me have a little piece of my dad even though he’s gone. Thanks.

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  3. It’s a little pathetic and narcissistic of me, but if and when I go, it will be my time to go. I just wish it happens at an age my kids will be able to remember me. One boy is three and the girl is one. I need just a few more years…

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    • I felt the same way for a while when my kids were very young. I almost made a video of myself in case I would have died so they could “see” me. Not pathetic or narcissistic, just very human and very much parent. I’m sure you’ll be good though.

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  4. “arms that seemed longer than garden hoses…” Thank you for taking me into a compelling scene that lives in your memory. My oldest is 5, and he’s just beginning to realize that people die and he’s asking a lot of questions. Your post reminds me of a child’s ability to remember… even if it’s just small scenes and flashes. When I’m in the day-to-day minutia, I’ll try to remember how all those seemingly very small things are really big things to a child.

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  5. Darn you for making me cry on a Monday morning!! That was beautiful. I’m lucky enough that I was 14 when I lost my 1st grandpa. So I have many memories. Recently, the farm my grandparents lived on sold. I wanted to visit their old home while I still could & show my kids. As my husband drove us around the farm, I cried. I could see my grandpa sitting in his metal chair under the huge oak tree, wearing his pinstripe overalls. I could see him in the barn, kicking a tractor tire. In the hayfield, cussing a hay bailer. Sadly, my kids will never remember their great-grandfathers, but they have their Papa, my dad, to supply a lifetime’s worth of memories.
    Thanks for sharing.

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