It was just a chair
As I recall, it was a rather non-descript, average, run-of-the-mill lift-chair used to help the elderly and/or ill patients more easily rise to a standing position. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very nice chair, and I felt blessed that a friend had passed it along to our family for Daddy (also known as Poppy or Popsaw) after her own dad had passed away.
It wasn’t until Mom passed it along to another family after Daddy died that I began to comprehend the significance of this non-descript, average, run-of-the-mill lift-chair.
My older sister, Kathy and I were attending a writers’ festival in Decatur, GA. As we were eating our lunch and discussing things we’d seen and done earlier that day, Kathy suggested I write a story about the chair.
“What chair?” I asked.
“You know, Poppy’s lift-chair. Mom has passed it onto another family now – the fourth family the chair has helped. There’s a story there, Deb.”
I must interject here that the fact that Kathy is the deep thinker and I am the writer just “ain’t right” as we say in the South, but I digress.
Being a deep-thinker wanna-be, I couldn’t get the story of the chair out of my head. I researched the manufacturing of lift-chairs. I even tried to arrange a tour at one of the plants. I finally realized that none of THAT was the story. It’s just a chair. The story isn’t how it was made, but what it has done and meant to those who have used it. I realized how those who have used it have become not just people, but vessels of the Living God.
Our journey with the chair
I do not know the name of the first lady who owned the chair, but the second lady was Ami, a dear friend of my niece, Julie, who has become a dear friend to all of us.
Ami’s dad had COPD, and the steroids he was on were having an adverse affect on his back. His back was literally crumbling into pieces as a result of the medications he required. Moving him at all became a challenge, never knowing if another bone would crack. Through all this he still wanted to be active.
Ami quit her job so she could care for him 24/7. As he worsened, she found herself straining her own back as she lifted him out of his chair. As he weakened, this became even more of a challenge because he could not help her at all and had become dead weight.
Ami finally came to the conclusion that in order to continue to be her dad’s caregiver, she needed a lift-chair to aid in getting him up. When she looked into purchasing one, she realized the staggering costs were beyond her means at that time. Prayer was never beyond her means. She knew God to be faithful to those who trust, and she knew God knew her dad needed a lift-chair.
A few days after placing this into God’s hands, one of Ami’s friends shared a Facebook post of someone selling a lift-chair for $350.00! That was considerably below market value, and even though Ami wasn’t quite sure how she would come up with the money, she knew God was in it and would make a way.
She contacted the lady selling the chair, told her she knew $350.00 was a great price, and she was very grateful to be able to get the chair. She never once mentioned her financial situation or anything of that nature to the woman. She just asked the lady to hold the chair until she could arrange for a truck to pick it up.
Two days later, when she called back for directions and a convenient time to pick it up, the lady responded that God had told her to give Ami the chair at no charge. Ami couldn’t believe it! She assured the lady that $350.00 was a very fair price, and she was glad to pay it. The lady responded that the only payment she required was that Ami pass it on at no charge once her dad no longer needed it.
That is how our family came to own the chair. Daddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in early 2010. Initially it was just a forgetful moment here or there, but as time went on, other areas of his life began to be affected. His balance was one of the first things to really go downhill. It seemed he fell all the time, even with the aid of his walker.
Julie mentioned this to Ami one day in passing. Ami suggested perhaps the lift-chair would give him time to establish his balance prior to taking his first step. Her dad had passed away, and she had been waiting for a family she could pass the chair along to. She told Julie that she and her husband would deliver the chair to my parents’ house.
The chair was a blessing to us, as it did help Daddy gather himself before actually taking the first step getting up to walk. It fit right in with the décor of my parents’ living room, and Daddy enjoyed many hours watching his beloved Braves and the University of Georgia Bulldogs play games from the chair. He also continued to hold his great-grands in the chair, and make memories for them, even as his continued to fade.
The chair accompanied him to the assisted living facility once it became apparent that Mom could no longer care for him at home. Daddy not only benefitted from the chair, but he enjoyed watching his grands and great-grands “play” in the chair. I suspect the chair enjoyed that, too. It was a very sad day for our family when Daddy no longer knew how to operate the chair. Alzheimer’s is a wicked disease…
The chair’s journey continued
Ami’s only request when she gave us the chair was the same as the lady who gave it to her – pass it on to another family who needs it, at no charge.
After Daddy died, the chair was moved back to Mom’s house and ultimately found a resting place on the enclosed back porch. Several family members tried to locate someone who might benefit from the chair, but to no avail. None of us knew anyone who needed the chair until one Sunday afternoon when Kathy went to visit an elderly couple from her church. Mrs. Betty suffered from COPD and Mr. Don had chronic back trouble that caused him to stoop over when he walked. He had fallen a few days earlier, causing additional damage to his back. Mrs. Betty told Kathy how difficult it was for her to get him out of his recliner and that both of them were exhausted. Immediately, Kathy thought of the chair. She assured Mrs. Betty the problem of getting Mr. Don out of the recliner would soon not be a problem.
When Mom heard the story of Mr. Don, she said “That’s who needs the chair now.” The following Saturday, the chair was loaded onto the back of a red pickup truck and traveled to its new home two blocks away. You can literally see Mrs. Betty and Mr. Don’s house from Mom’s back porch! Not only did the chair enable Mr. Don to stand up unaided, but it also allowed him to sleep comfortably at night until his back healed from the fall. Mr. Don continues to use the chair, and while he will always have back issues, the chair has improved his quality of life. On bad nights, he still sleeps in the chair. Mrs. Betty no longer strains herself caring for him.
In the end, the lift-chair is not just a chair, but rather a thread of God’s love, holding each and every one of us together. God wove together the tapestry of four families in a way only God can. Everyone touched by the chair has been changed.
I wonder if the workers who built the chair, and all lift-chairs, ever stop to think of how their talents have been used by God. I wonder if any of us stop to think about how the mundane things we do every day can be used by God in a meaningful way. After all, it was not just a chair, and we are not just workers, or just people. We are sons and daughters of a mighty God who uses not only us, but also the work of our hands to His glory. Amen!
See you next time…