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The Mom Stop column: Restored chair bring back memories of dad

Lydia Seabol Avant
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Savannah Morning News

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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My dad found a mid-century modern swivel chair at the local thrift store by his house in the early 1990s - he had a knack for finding things for free or almost free.

Low to the ground with an ottoman and thin, needle-like legs, the 1950s piece was quintessentially mid-century. While the style wasn’t, and still isn’t, my favorite, my dad was obsessed. If it was sleek in design with a hint of mid-century - he wanted it.

My dad took ivory colored fabric he also got for free and upholstered the chair himself, deeming the chair the “Jetsons” chair, after the cartoon about a futuristic family.

And in my pre-teen mind, that made the chair even better. So low to the ground, the chair seemingly was perfect for my 12-year-old self. The fact that it glided from side to side and had a place to prop your feet, it soon became my favorite chair on our weekends at dad’s house.

A few years later, while re-decorating my room at my mom’s, I asked dad if I could have the Jetsons chair. He said no. But I was surprised when he said he would loan it to me. And so, I moved it to my mom’s house, and it soon became my favorite writing chair. That chair followed me from my teenage bedroom to my freshman dorm in college, to the sorority house bedroom to my first apartment and grad school.

The Jetsons chair has always reminded me of my dad.

When we moved into our first home shortly before we got married, the Jetsons chair went to the attic. Over the years, the cream-colored fabric had become worn and stained and I didn’t really have a place where the chair matched with the rest of my furniture.

Dad asked if I still had the chair during his first visit to our home. I told him I did, but it was just stored away until we found the right place for it. He reminded me, numerous times, that the chair was only on loan, that if I weren’t going to keep it, I had to give it back.

I assured him that I was keeping the chair.

And the chair sat in the attic for 14 years. In that time, we had three kids, who grew to elementary and middle school age. And I forgot about the Jetsons chair, which got buried among boxes of kids clothes, a stored-away crib and containers of Christmas decorations. My dad died unexpectedly last year.

We moved to a new home in August and during the move I was in the sweltering, 100-plus degree heat of the attic of our old house, dripping with sweat, handing items down to the movers. It was then that I saw the Jetsons chair, sitting under the rafters where we put it when we moved to that house in 2006. The upholstery was even in worse shape after years in the hot attic. But there it sat, waiting.

I remembered my promise to my dad.

Earlier this week, I carried the newly-upholstered “Jetsons” chair clumsily up the stairs of our new home and placed it in my son’s room. Now with navy fabric, the chair perfectly matches his new red, white and blue themed bedroom.

“Is that for me?” my son asked excitedly.

I told him it was, and told him it’s the Jetsons chair, and it’s very special because it belonged to his Grandpap. I placed the chair in the corner by the window, remarking how much smaller it seemed to be than it did when I was a kid.

The next morning, I walked into my son’s room to get him up for the day, only he was already awake and dressed, sitting in that Jetsons chair with his laptop, happily swiveling side to side with his crossed legs propped up on the ottoman.

“I love this new chair, mommy,” he said.

I smiled back. I imagine my dad was smiling somewhere, too.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.