Inheriting My Reading Spot: A Saga of an Armchair

Once upon a time, my dad's cat ran away. The cat had a tendency to do this and not return for days and days, so we trekked through the neighborhood with flashlights in hand, making absurd mewing noises and shaking bags of treats.

When this did not turn up one Very Sly and Sneaky Cat That I Thought Deserved to Spend the Night Out in the Cold, we checked our neighbors' houses. At one of these houses, a bundle of items for Purple Heart stood perched on the stoop, awaiting the next-day arrival of the truck. Amidst this bundle was buried one Very Ugly and Very Pink but Very Cozy Looking Armchair.

This wasn't just any armchair. This was my grandmother's armchair. Why, you ask, were my neighbors donating a family heirloom to the Purple Heart? In the smallest of small world stories, it turns out they had purchased it from a Goodwill nearly 20 miles away, intending to have it recovered in not-so-ugly fabric. When the re-upholstery proved to be too expensive, it sat in their basement. When no one bought it at their yard sale, it was destined for Purple Heart.

And how did it end up at Goodwill in the first place? My Very Helpful Uncle donated it, along with the rest of my grandmother's furniture, after she died. Little did he know that the chair, no matter how very ugly and very pink it was, was well-loved. My grandmother had sat in the overstuffed armchair everyday for as long as I could remember - first when she lived with us, then when she moved with my dad when my parents split up, and then when she moved in with my uncle later on. It was her center, her spot, her comfort zone. It gave her a wingback to lean on while she cried through Days of Our Lives, and it held her in its comfy cushions while she read romance novels plastered with Fabio covers.

It broke my heart when we lost that chair. Luckily, though, the chair never lost us.

Three families, two houses, and several NYC apartments later, the chair has returned to its rightful home in my living room. It has become my rock, my nook, my reading center. And until a week ago, it was still Very Pink and Very Ugly (though also Very Cozy):

Now it has left again, this time for a stint in a reupholstery shop. The chair will now be Very Khaki Colored and Very Plain and Still Very Cozy. It will always be my grandmother's chair, but in recovering it, it will continue in its journey to become my chair, too. The upcoming chairless weeks will be a trial. I'm not sure where to rest my feet when settling in with a new book. My library books have no cushion creases in which to lose themselves. My reading lamp shines on an empty corner. But when the chair returns to me, as I know it always will, I will curl into its oversized arms, open a book on my lap, and read with thoughts of my grandmother to keep me company.


  1. This is such a wonderful story and it's so awesome that you got the chair back! Please post a pic of it when it gets back from the upholsterers.

  2. Thanks! I will definitely get pictures of the final chair up. Hopefully it will only be another week or two. I miss my spot.

  3. Heavens! When you said, "very pink" I pictured "very [BRIGHT] pink." I rather like the pink upholstery. But then, I am a wee bit closer to your grandmother's age than you. And, I am not sure pink would work in our house (or my husband's idea of how a chair should look).
    Anyway, I can see your grandmother sitting in it!
    And, even though you didn't ask, my favorite reading place is a chair in our home, in a small, cozy room on the first floor. It is upholstered in a brown plaid. It's not a wing chair - has a shorter back. It's nice to have a favorite place to read.

  4. True, at least it isn't (or wasn't!) Very Bright Pink. The picture doesn't do it justice though - the color combined with the weird leafy texture and pattern was just odd. And you're right, I should have asked about others' favorite reading spots! It seems most bollworms have one - including you.

  5. Aw this is such a great story. Seriously. It sorta reminds me of the movie the Violin...except maybe less dramatic?!

    Can't wait to see the new pics. :D

  6. This is so lovely that now I wish I had a chair with this story too! Will you post a pic when you have it back?

  7. Definitely! I hope to have it back sometime in the next two weeks!

  8. Thank you for posting this Kerry. Your Grandmother would be proud.

  9. Wonderful story. I think you said you've got it back? When can I see it? Did he do a good job? I'm sending my not-so-traveled chairs soon. Just gotta decide on fabric - can't make up my mind. Miss you. Love you.


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