Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Editorials

November 26, 2013

The empty chair and memories

On the wall in our living room hangs a large painting that I bought at a small art show several years ago. It is a simple painting with rich, deep gold and burgundy oil colors that I enjoy. Just off center in this painting is a cozy, green arm chair that sits empty next to a side table where an old phonograph player rests. To the left of the chair is a door that stands slightly open with light seeping into the simple room. I have never been able to figure out if the door is open because someone has just left, or if they left it ajar because they were coming right back.

It was the empty chair that drew me in when I first saw the painting on a rainy night so many years ago. I hadn’t intended to buy a painting that evening, let alone one that takes two people to carry, but art has a way of finding you, not the other way around. At the time, I had recently gone through the passing of my dear, beloved, mother-in-law. She was a lover of all things musical, a shining spirit full of many kind words, whimsical conversation and the affection one so often wishes for in family. The chair seemed custom made for her, next to the music she so loved.

It is years later now, and in the family farm home where we live, that painting still hangs prominently on the wall. When all are asleep in my home, I sometimes sit in the living room at night and look at this painting and remember our times together. When my house is full of family and friends, food filling the tables and laughter spilling from room to room, I will often find myself looking, again, at this now-familiar painting and remembering those gatherings of years ago.

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