Recently, I purchased a red chair from Wayfair.com to spruce up my house, which I’ve had repainted and re-carpeted (upstairs) after years of shabby flooring and aging wall paint. The chair is a faux leather red. It’s inexpensive as I have two cats, one of whom likes to scratch his way through the furniture.
We had a red chair in my childhood home in the room we called “the den.” In that chair, I would color with crayons and coloring books filled with animal outlines, forest trees and fields of flowers. I watched The Lucy Show and Simba the White Lion, played with a Lite Brite, Legos, and Colorforms. I read my first books in that chair. When I was a young child, my mother spent time in the room, too, sitting in the red chair herself or on the couch, as we watched The Ed Sullivan Show or Red Skelton.
This is the red chair from the den of my childhood home. One of my favorite photos because my mom and I are in it together.
It’s easy to idealize one’s childhood when five decades have passed since you were a kid. Of course the truth is things weren’t always easy in that house. My parents separated when I was four years old and eventually divorced, and my parents argued, especially after the separation. My father came to visit on Sundays and sometimes roared his anger. It could be frightening. My mother went to work and was out late most nights. She drank too much on those nights. That could be frightening, too.
It is equally easy to forget that growing up wasn’t always bad. There were those red chair moments, for example, the great food my mother cooked for us, her generosity with buying us clothes and toys, her gentle demeanor and her sense of humor. And my father, he took us out for rides on his boat from Quincy to Cape Cod. I enjoyed those afternoons. I remember one day in particular when I was perhaps 10 years old. It was just he and I walking into a marina store so he could look at the latest line of new boats. He could be great company when he wasn’t angry. He could be funny and engaging. I felt happy to be out with him on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
My brother and me in the den. If you look to the far left, although it’s dark, you can see part of the red chair. This looks like a good day.
Childhood was a mix of good and bad, which perhaps it is for many people. In my fifties, I choose to focus on the good that my parents provided.
The red chair of my youth represented happiness, so I purchased the new red chair to link it to the past. Sometimes when I sit in my red chair, childhood memories rush back, and it’s almost as if I am a child again. It’s almost as if my mother and father are young again.