The Rocker: by Kevin Hughes
The rocker waited patiently. It had been through this before, although, the last time was more than 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. The rocker was made of wood, by a real craftsman, even after more than a century of constant use, it did not creak, or squeak. There was a kind of subliminal shudder at the end of each rock, a reassuring shudder, a calming shudder, a soft shudder. Warm, loving, with no strings attached kind of rocking- that is what the rocker did best.
The rocker had ben one family for three generations, now a much younger generation didn’t think it looked “good enough” to be surrounded by more modern expensive furniture. That was okay with the rocker. It found most of the modern furniture to be so filled with their good looks, that they didn’t notice how badly crafted they were.
Sometimes, well, sometimes the rocker would look at a chair with sorrow. A chair to pretty to sit in, to uncomfortable to sit in, yet, given the name chair. “What good is a name without purpose?” Thought the rocker. It’s heart went out to furniture like that, with just flash and no substance. Why with one cross country move, or a rambunctious preteen, or even a slightly overweight grandmother, and these new fangled rockers or chairs would crumple under the strain and stress. Yes, those modern pretty little pieces of furniture chose beauty over function—and it made the rocker sad.
The rocker looked at the price tag hanging from it: $100. It snorted. The rocker new you couldn’t put a price on all the times it had solaced a grief stricken widow, or held the joy of listening to a new parent coo to an infant, or an elderly parent holding a newborn, and both of them singing and smiling toothles grins.
The rocker knew a $100 dollars was peanuts compared to the financial decisions reached while a loan adult rocked long into the night. Choices were made in that rocker, mostly at night, with the lights off, and the darkness used as a blanket- both to hide the thoughts and to warm up ideas. Oh, even proposals of Love, had been dreamed up while rocking in that rocker. The rocker, remembered them all.
The little red head, covered in jelly, who’s tiny legs didn’t even reach the front of the rocker’s seat, would perch on her. He had to reach up with his tiny (but quite strong arms – rocker would assure him through her wood) to get her to rock. Rocker would aid him, but never tell. The rocker remembered the young mother, afraid to put her child down while it had a fever. She would rock for hours, willing anything to give the baby back its health.
Rocker would never fail in moments like these. She would guide the baby to health, and the mother to sleep. And often, in the morning- a blurry eyed husband would find both mother and baby sleeping, yet still, gently rocking. Rocker never told.
Even today, now, as the younger brother and his new wife have angry words with the older sister for selling the rocker: “Mom rocked in that chair for more than fifty years! Heck you rocked in it too. I did. We all did. Even doggone Princess the cat did. ” He hugged his young wife. Took a breath and continued on:
” Remember the time you held my baby girls? It was in that rocker. You had never had twins, and you had to rock using your feet. Remember when your prom date got drunk and you had to come home early from your prom? You rocked in that rocker with your gown still on, and your corsage held in your hand, until Dad found you the next morning? You can’t sell it!”
He stormed off into Mom’s house. It was empty now, without Mom or Dad to people it. Most of their things given away or sold off. The angry older sister, in a fury of self righteous pity, sat in the rocker steaming. She was pumping the rocker like a wild machine, like a piston cut loose from a crank. The rocker did not care. She had held this same sister many times, the Irony was lost on the rocker. It was happy, for rocking is what it did, and rocking soothes a child, or a mind, with equal aplomb. It is what rockers do.
As the elder sister calmed down, she realized that her younger brother was right. She can’t sell this rocker. It wouldn’t be right. It shouldn’t be sold, but it should be given! It should be given the way Dad gave it to Mom, all those years ago; with love. He gave it to her to rock her firstborn child in. “I am that first born child.” She thought.
In the kitchen, she found her brother staring out into the back yard, with eyes that weren’t looking out, but in. She smiled tentatively at her sister-in-law and glanced at her brother. Her sister in law understood immediately, and backed away from her husband and gave a small encouraging gesture with her hand that said:
“I know. Go talk with your brother. He needs you now.”
The elder sister melted up to her brother, and put her hand on his shoulder. ” He sure had grown tall.” She thought to herself. She remembered rocking him the day he was cut from the little league Baseball team. And the day he cut his knee open on a bottle top, of all things. Of how he handed his two twin girls to her – in Mom’s rocker, the first person besides his wife and himself to hold the precious gifts. She didn’t speak, just rested her hand lightly on his young shoulders.
He reached up and patted her hand, letting his rest on top.
“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 , little brother. While I was rocking a moment ago, I was thinking, that rocker is really family. Remember how Dad had it brought to the hospital when Mom was sick? (they both nodded, fighting back smiles and tears at the same time: which is how grief behaves after enough time goes by).
How Dad would only sit in it to dispense gifts on Christmas Day? (They laughed, as memories of their Father had a gift handed to him and he would read out the name and give the gift as if he was Father Christmas himself!). Remember when we put both your twins in it, along with Princess the cat, all three wearing pink? ( He smiled, as that was still one of his favorite pictures. Indeed it hung over his fireplace, and how they got a pink tutu on Princess, and why she tolerated it was beyond his understanding. But, then again, that Cat loved Mom and the girls, and nobody else.)
“Yes, I do. ” Said the little brother, still holding his sisters hand:
” What about Princess the cat? She would curl up in that rocker and nap, and would only move for Mom, or my girls, and no one else.” At this, they both smiled again.That cat loved Mom and the twins, and nobody else. Everyone else, was simply tolerated or ignored.
Another few moments of quiet reverie went by. The Elder sister turned her brother towards her, a bit of a tear in her eye, and one waiting to be in his.
“I want that rocker to go to you. Your girls, and your wife. You already know how to use the rocker. Mom knows it will be safe and loved in your home. Please can you take her?” And there was more than a bit of tears in her eyes now.
He hugged his elder sister, and without a word, swept her up into his young and strong arms. He carried her past his wife, who gave him a thumbs up smile, and a soft pat on his back as he passed by her. The young wife followed her husband and his sister out into the garage.
The rocker knew what was coming, so she braced for the weight of two adults- no problem, after all, the rocker was hand crafted, by a Master. She snuggles both of them in her curved arms and rockers. As the young brother started to rock, his eyes closed, and his Elder sister’s head on his shoulder- her eyes closed: words crept quietly away.
The only sounds were the reassuring shudder that the rocker often used, and the sound of gentle humming coming from the throat of the brother. The rocker was pleased. A home she was familiar with, but hadn’t lived in, was now open to her. She was secretly hoping they had a cat, but with twin girls they had to have a cat, didn’t they?
Rocker rocked. Love locked in her lap. She would have another family, and she had one now.