By Nancy Lou Henderson
Did that fire happen, or am I dreaming? Now I need to check myself out. My back feels solid and straight, both of my arms feel attached, my seat not burned, all four legs are still there, but I only feel one foot. I feel blistered and scorched on one side, but most importantly, I need my other foot. Without two feet, I am useless. Maybe, I am at the end of my journey, but what a good rocking time I have had.
My journey started in a barn, which is where my creator built me. You know what? My creator hand-carved the wooden spooled slats that make up my back and legs, and then he carefully attached them to my seat, headrest, and feet. As my creator worked on me, he talked about how happy his gift would make his wife.
Did I tell you yet, how unique my feet are? My two feet have two legs attached to each of them. These feet are called rockers and have everything to do with my name. I am a loved rocking chair, and I would not want to be anything else. You will understand why as you read my story.
After my creator finished making me, I was taken inside his home and had a special place beside the fireplace. Within moments of my placement, I met my creator’s wife. Wow! She was happy! She sat down on my seat, then rocked back and forth, rubbing her hands on my arms and telling my creator how much she loved me. I tried my best to hug her back, but I could not hug her, although my armrests bend slightly towards my seat.
Soon while sitting by the fireplace, I learned that my creator’s name is Jake, and his wife’s name is Elsa. Jake and Elsa took turns sitting in my seat and rocking. Sometimes, Elsa would rub me with what she called a soft cloth with orange oil. Dang, that stuff smelled good, and the rubbing was terrific!
One day, I heard a terrible noise in the house. Elsa came into my room carrying something in her arms, and the noise got louder and louder. Then as she sat down on my seat, rocking while singing, “Hush, little baby, don’t you cry,” the noise stopped. Oh, my goodness! I was so rocking happy because there for a moment; I thought the loud noise would crack my wood. Jake and Elsa would spend a lot of time rocking and singing in my chair with the baby in their arms. They called the baby Justina. Sometimes, I would hear the baby cooing, which, of course, endeared the tiny being to my slatted covered heart.
As time passed, Justina began to crawl, then walk, and to my surprise, one day, she tried to climb into my seat. I tried to help by rocking forward, but she was too small, but then Elsa set Justina into my curved arms. As Justina rocked, my rockers moved smoothly back and forth. It is funny how somebody who had nearly cracked my wood with her shrieks was now the glue that held me together.
The days went by, and, sure enough, there would be many more shrieking times as Justina was calmed by my rocking feet as her parents sang and rocked. The baby loved me, and I loved her. As Justina grew, she nearly rocked my rockers off, and sometimes I thought she might rock me plumb over, spilling her onto the floor, but soon she grew up and left my home. Periodically, Jake and Elsa would sit on my seat and slowly rock, then sometimes Justina would visit and rock too, but it was not the same, and I missed my rowdy rocker.
One day, Jake picked me up then carried me to the barn. My mind went rocking trying to figure out what was going on. Jake placed me on a table then began scratching me with some stiff cloth. I am reasonably sure that Jake did not miss one small crevice of my body. Not sure why I deserved such treatment, but soon after Jake finished scratching me, he rubbed me down all over with a soft cloth, then again with a cloth dipped in some dark liquid. Once Jake finished, he left the barn leaving me all alone. The next day, Jake returned and rubbed me with another soft cloth dipped in the marvelous orange oil, then carried me back into the house. Once again, I sat in my place by the fireplace, feeling refreshed and renewed.
Soon Justina and her husband, Jed, came for a visit and brought surprises for me with them. Justina laid a folded, beautiful big cloth, called an afghan, across my arm, but that was not the best surprise they had for me. Jed entered the room with a shrieking baby in his arms then handed the baby to Justina. Justina sat down on my seat then began singing, “Hush, little baby, don’t you cry,” as she rocked back and forth. I knew my baby and Jed had a baby of their own without being told, and I was overwhelmed with love for them all.
Since it was a cold evening, Jake fueled the fire with some big logs. After a few hours, Justina got up from my seat, excused herself, and took the sleeping baby to another room. Soon, Jake, Elsa, and Jed turned off the lights and left the room too. I felt so content and warm as the logs burned, and the flames flickered in the fireplace. Suddenly, I noticed that the afghan had slipped off my arm and laid on the floor near the fire, then the fire popped, sending embers flying onto the afghan. There was nothing that I could do as the blanket began to flame and smoke began filling the room.
Things got pretty confusing after that, and I felt my foot get hot, then my side felt hot too. Next, I heard Jake screaming for Elsa, Jed, Justina, and the precious baby to get out of the house. Then I heard loud noises as something cool was raining down on me, and the room went dark.
Now, the night has turned into daylight, and here I sit, taking inventory of my parts, feeling useless but thankful for the rocking I have done. But wait, Jake’s strong hands are picking me up, and he is talking to me, saying, “Don’t worry, my rocking friend. I promise you; I will make you a new foot, and you will rock again.”
Jake did restore me as he promised, and my journey continues. Many years have passed by, and Dawn, Jed and Justina’s baby, is now a teenager. Elsa became very sick then left this home, and she has not returned to rock since. The house feels very solemn now, except when Justina, Jed, and Dawn visit. Otherwise, Jake sits on my seat, rocking slowly, full of sadness until he falls asleep, snores, waking himself up then goes to bed.
Jake taught Dawn how to put the orange oil on a soft cloth then rub me all over. Each time she rubs me with the oil, Dawn always asks Jake about the fire. Jake retells her the story each time while pointing out which of my rockers he replaced after the fire, and then Dawn tells her Grandpa, Jake, how much she loves him and me. Jake hugs her then tells her that I will be hers one day. Of course, I wish I could hug them both, but all I can do is rock them smoothly.
Jed, Dawn, and Justina just left my house, and Jake just sat down in my seat to rock. For some reason, Jake does not seem sad, and he is singing, “Hush, little baby, don’t you cry.” As we smoothly rock, I feel a peacefulness in Jake’s body. Soon, he began to snore softly and then the snoring stopped. Slowly, my rockers came to a slow stop, but Jake did not move or stand up. I tried to make my bent wooden arms wrap around him in a hug, but I could not. Suddenly, I felt Elsa in the room then I slowly began to rock while hearing her sing the words of the song, “Hush, little baby, don’t you cry.