by Ernie Dawson from Saskatoon, SK
It sits quietly now, not often used, I expect, except when I visit the cottage at Emma Lake. It is my choice among all the good, soft, welcoming furniture in that place, built on the same land where our parents’ little cottage used to sit. It is also my choice when I think about all of the chairs in which I have sat throughout my life.
I first recall seeing it when I was just a little guy; four years old, somewhat envious of all the attention being lavished on my new baby brother. My mother sat in that chair and rocked him to sleep, comforted him after his feedings and sang to him in a loving voice that was almost a hum, and always the same song. More than forty years later, just after her death in 1986, I learned the name of the love song she sang to all nine of her children: O Sanctissima.
To me it seemed as if the rocker was a part of our home forever.
It came, in the early 1930’s, after our grandfather had died of tuberculosis and his wife, our nana, Nana Watson, came to live with my parents, I’m told that Nana rocked all the grandchildren too, singing the same song as my mother.
The chair is stout and sturdy. As a kid I recall running my hands up and down the turned spiral uprights that run from the seat to the broad arm rests. I remember the brown leather seat, replete with small hairline cracks that became larger over the years. Today, the leather seat is gone -- it wore out thousands of rocks ago and has been replaced with cloth -- but the horsehair stuffing remains.
Some of us were wondering about how many children have been rocked in Nana’s chair, and then we tried to guess how many rocks back and forth those sturdy oak rockers have counted. Millions, we think.
I can recall holding each of our three children on my knee and rocking them back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Seven of us have rocked our children in that chair, and some of them have even rocked their own children. The awesome realization is that generation after generation after generation has rocked in that chair. I can count five generations of my family members I saw in that chair. Just imagine the stories it could tell. Think of the people it has seen, the good news and the bad it has heard.
And there it sits, still. Sturdy, still. Handsome, still. Waiting for more.