Antique high chair reminder of circle of life
Guess what my husband gave me for my 81st birthday. An antique high chair. I must admit I did point it out at the Corydon Extravaganza and suggested it would make a wonderful birthday present. When I see it now, sitting proudly in my old log cabin, I think it is a perfect gift for an old lady.
As I admire the worn, beautiful wood on the tall but diminutive chair, I can just see a baby sitting up at the dinner table with its admiring parents. Not just one baby but a succession of babies.
This high chair must have been used and passed down several generations. The marks that show use have created such a fine patina. The legs on the chair still bear streaks of the original turquoise paint while the arms, seat and back are worn down to the natural wood. Yes, many tots starting out their lives sharing at a family dining table have sat in this chair.
My birthday is in the springtime, when the signs of renewal are all around. The dormancy of winter is being masked by fresh green leaves and budding flowers. Blue skies and white clouds replace the solid winter gray so often riding above an Indiana day.
Yes, spring enters our lives with all variety of promises of growth and new possibilities on the horizon. Babies born into our lives bring the same promises of wonderful things to come. Placed in a high chair, a baby moves from total dependence on others to the first steps of taking in their own nourishment. They are assisted in this giant undertaking by the love of older generations and the specialized chairs they provide. Babies signify that life is not over but starting again with no limits to what might develop.
Recently, a television series, titled ‘The Story of God,’ ran on the National Geographic channel. I hope you were able to catch some of the six Sunday night programs featuring actor Morgan Freeman. If not, keep an eye open for it as a rerun.
During the programs, Freeman explores differing faiths and discovers the common threads that run through the diverse beliefs and practices. He presents a discussion of man’s constant quest to understand our place in the universe.
It seems mankind has always questioned how life started, what is our purpose on this earth and what happens when we leave this life. It appears we want to feel there is more than just today with the here and now. We want to think we are all part of the eternal web of life. Babies who carry our DNA give us one assurance that we go on into the future in some form or another. The influence we have on a younger generation will stick with them into their adulthood and manifest in their behavior and thinking. The socialization of a baby by including it in a family meal is no small thing.
One of the issues that hit me as I aged was the shift in my way of thinking of the motivation for doing things. When I was young, all my actions and thoughts appeared to me as building for a better future. All of a sudden, I was being told that the goal for my aging self was to downsize and find security and comfort. That wasn’t very stimulating to me.
Instead, I now understand why people make plans or buy things that others think will never be used by an aging person. When my first husband, Frank, died, I got a call from a friend who had planned to sell us a large antique walnut staircase. We really hadn’t known where we would use it but dreamed of building something new some day. She said she did not imagine I would want to buy it under the circumstances. I thought for a minute and responded that I still not only wanted the staircase but needed it. It was a statement to myself that I had not died with my husband but was alive and still growing and evolving.
To this day, I have not built this staircase into a building, but it reminds me I have a future of some nature and something to look forward to and responsibilities to take.
The antique high chair furnishes the same type of symbolism for me. By today’s safety standards, it is not appropriate to be used by a small child. Instead, it is usable as a thing of beauty, a reminder of the chain of life out of which I come and the truth that I, at the age of 81, can still think, feel and appreciate living life to its fullest.
That is a pretty good birthday present in my eyes.