By Kevin Hughes
The rocker waited patiently. It had been through this before, although the last time was over fifty years ago. For more than a hundred years, it had rocked: men, women, and children, along with more than a few cats and the occasional dog. It was made of wood; a real craftsman’s work. Even after more than century of constant use, it didn’t creak, just offered a kind of subliminal shudder at each end of the rock. A reassuring, calming shudder—warm, loving , and no strings attached.
It had been in this family for three generations. The current generation didn’t think it looked “good enough” to be surrounded by modern expensive furniture, but that was okay with the rocker. Those new chairs filled the rocker with sorrow anyhow. Sure, they looked pretty, but they were far too uncomfortable to actually sit in. “What good is a name without a purpose?” thought the rocker. Its heart went out to furniture like that, all flash and no substance. One cross-country move, rambunctious preteen, or even a slightly overweight grandmother and it was all over. Form over function, that was the thing now.
The rocker felt the price tag hanging around it. $100 dollars. If you could put a price on the times it had solaced a grief-stricken widow or heard the joy of a parent cooing to a brand new baby, $100 would be peanuts compared to that. Peanuts compared to the weight of late-night decisions made in that rocker, with the lights off and the darkness drawn close like a blanket.
The rocker never failed, no matter the moment. It had guided sick babies to health and worried mothers to sleep, waiting for a blurry-eyed husband to find them in the morning. Both sleeping, yet strangely, still gently rocking. The rocker never told.
“Mom rocked in that for more than fifty years! Heck, you did too. And I did. ” He hugged his young wife closer as he glared angrily at his older sister. “Remember the first time you held my baby girls? It was in that rocker. You remember when your prom date got drunk and you had to come home early from your prom? You sat there with your gown still on until Dad found you the next morning. You can’t sell it.”
He stormed off into the old house, empty now without Mom or Dad to fill it. Most of the things had been given away or sold already. His older sister collapsed into the rocker in a fit of self righteous pity, furiously pushing back and forth. The rocker didn’t care. It had held this same sister many times, and it did what rockers do: soothed the mind and the body with its calming motion. Her brother was right, the girl realized. The rocker shouldn’t be sold. It should be given, and given with love.
Inside, she found her brother staring blankly into the backyard. She smiled tentatively at her sister-in-law, who smiled back and left them to some privacy. The elder sister placed her hand on her brother’s shoulder. He reached up and patted her hand, still looking at the backyard and not her. “Sis, I am so sorry for yelling at you. It is just that rocker is so…well, you know, Mom. ”
Her hand tightened on his shoulder—she knew exactly what he meant.
” I know. I was thinking, that the rocker is really family. Remember how Dad had it brought to the hospital when mom was sick? And how Dad would only sit in it to dispense Christmas gifts? And when we put all three of your triplets in it at the same time, and Cindy in the middle would push both her sisters since she couldn’t reach the arms?”
“Yeah. What about Princess the cat? Who would curl up to nap in the rocker and only move for mom, and no one else?” At this they both smiled again. That cat only loved mom; everyone else was simply tolerated.
Another few moments of quiet reverie went by. The elder sister cleared her throat.
“I want that rocker to go you. Your girls and your wife already know how to use it, and mom would know it was safe and loved with you.” A few unshed tears lingered in her eyes.
He hugged her, and without a word, swept her body up into his young and strong arms. Carried her past his wife, who gave him a thumbs-up and a smile.
The rocker knew what was coming and braced for the weight of two adults—no problem. After all, it had been hand-crafted by a Master. The younger brother started to rock, eyes closed, as his sister’s head fell on his shoulder and words crept quietly away.
The only sounds were that reassuring shudder and the brother’s gentle humming. The rocker was pleased. It was headed to a new but familiar home, and secretly, it was hoping they had a cat. With triplet girls, they had to, didn’t they?
Kevin is from a large family (he’s number 10 of 11). Later in life, he learned his name, and stopped using the number. In his youth he had long red curly hair; now the remaining curly hair is not red, and it is mostly on his back. Kevin married his hero Kathy back in 1980, and she is still here. As she said on their wedding night, “You will either die in my arms, or at the end of them.”
Kevin has been a Soldier, a Scholar (well after he flunked out and went back to school on his own money, he got his GPA to the left of the decimal, and with a whole number to boot), a Comedian, a Speaker, and a Member of the Huffiness Scholars at Texas A&M University. He is an online MOOC junkie, with eight certificates from Harvard and MIT, and even one from Australia, mostly in Brain Science, or Behavioral Science, or Neuroscience—oh, and History too. He is fat, old, and active: hiking, biking, reading, swimming, and thinking, are his primary activities, along with writing a bit. Kevin Hughes is 63 and 1/2 years old, but with the body of a 62-year-old. You can find him online at www.brainboomers.com.