… the chair

I absolutely love chairs! From the kids bedrooms to our kitchen, every corner is graced with a chair.  My favorite chairs came from my father-in-law several years ago.  They are high back, beautiful colors of greens and reds.  They are hidden away in the corners of my bedroom in hopes that my children will leave them alone and I can preserve them as long as I can!  Our house is a hodge podge of chairs that we have collected over the years in a variety of ways and range from every shape, size and color and all have purpose.  The chairs in the younger kids rooms are used for time out.  They are strategically placed in a corner far from any toy or distraction.  Alex has a fun plaid high wingback that he sits on the edge of and pouts for his 2 minutes of time out.  Caroline has a beautiful baby blue low back, over stuffed rocker that allows her to curl up and rock to help pass her time of 4 minutes.  Nathan has a tapestry hunting chair that has lately been well used as that I have determined that teenagers baracade themselves in their rooms for hours to hide out from the irritating younger siblings and the parents that seem to just not understand them!  There are chairs in the dinning room that once belonged to my grandmother that no one else wanted.  I love a chair in our kitchen … not at the table that we sit in when we eat, but one nestled in a corner that my children can fall down in after a long day of school and play and talk to me while I cook.

There is one particular chair that the house has become centered around.  It is not like any other we have.  We had a limited color selection and it would have to be more practical and functional than any other chair we had.  It was a special order chair that we had made according to exact height and weight measurements.  We knew that the chair would determine what type of house we lived in and how easily the chair could be moved from room to room.  The chair would need to be able to fit in the car, therefore determining not only the type of house we lived in, but what type of car we drove as well. The chair would be noticed by many, some with stares of uncertainty, some with the look of compassion and sympathy and yes, even some with no compassion, no sympathy, no understanding …. the look of annoyance.

The chair was not an easy purchase as that I felt all hope was lost.  The vivid memory of watching my little girl being placed in her pink wheelchair for the first time was bittersweet.  I had to accept that she would never walk.  I had to allow myself to become the mom of a disabled child.  Even now, writing these words there is a flood of emotional pain that I have been told will sometimes appear without warning and you have to allow yourself to let it out.  Elizabeth was now being diagnosed as a hypertonic quadriplegic who would never have the use of her arms or legs.  However, having the chair meant that Elizabeth could have the freedom to be moved easily, be eye level with her siblings and peers and begin to explore her world which consisted of so much more than the living room floor.

Each morning I wake Elizabeth up, dress her and lift her into her chair.  It takes time to buckle her in ensuring that each strap from her toes to her shoulders are carefully buckled.  Most of Elizabeth’s day is spent in the chair.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are fed to her in the chair as well as play time being centered around the chair.  Of course when there are errands to run and the chair must go with us.  Elizabeth is wheeled out to the car and placed in a car seat that was designed just for her.  The wheelchair does not fold or collapse so I lift the 50 pound chair into the back of the surbuban and buckle it down so it does not roll.  People often stare at Elizabeth and the chair when we are out.  There have even been times when people offer to help put the chair in the car when they walk by but I always say no thank you as that it has been a part of my daily life for the past 10 years.

It takes my breath away when I think about my little girl being forever bound to the chair.  I guess it is like our house, chairs come and go …. we find ourselves wanting and needing new ones.  You always need chairs, right?  But will she always need this chair?  Every night when I close my eyes I try to picture Elizabeth standing by my bed in the morning, touching my arm … saying “Mama I can walk!”  My reality when I do wake up in the morning is that I go to Elizabeth’s room, touch her arm and say “Let me help you up.”

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