on empty chairs



It is an odd thing, this sandwich generation thing.

The kids are off on their new adventures, and my dictatorship is starting to crumble.

I never even had the time to embezzle money and jewels like other powerful despots. Dammit.

I’m not really sure what I’m going to do, you know, to fill this power void but I’m looking at Marshal Dillon Dingle and he doesn’t seem to get the whole idea of dictatorship (says he’s all about the monarchy thing and tilts his head in Blaze’s direction) so that’s not going to cut it for me.

My neighbors seem relatively independent and not really up for forking over all their freedoms and liberties (though some might be persuaded… I’m new here and still not sure).

But in the mean time, while I figure out who will yield to my hard-earned leadership expertise and desire for ultimate power and control, I’m busy absorbing that we are getting ready to sell a house and move and plan a wedding and and and…

But over the past few weeks, some tough news has sprinkled in among all the activity and the other day it reached critical mass, moving to the front of my brain… spending time there… demanding attention.

Sickness and death in the outer orbits of my life. Close enough for prayers and hope for strength and healing, but not near enough for a hug, or cup of coffee, or traveling the stages of grief.

Knowing there are good people out there hurting. Not close friends or family, yet not part of the anonymous cosmos.

We all know these times.

Word of the death of a former colleague, someone your age.

The sudden death of a close friend’s friend.

The return of cancer in someone you know only enough to know her first battle was hard won.

And then, something much much closer to home asked quietly for attention.

The empty chair at my family table, the place setting no longer needed… for my Old Yankee Man.

Granny and Grampa’s anniversary was on July 3rd.

It would have been 61 years.

I don’t know the exact date I met him.  I know it was in February… 1984, but I don’t remember the day.

Nothing about it, really.

I’m sure it was no big deal.  A smile and a hello from me, maybe a ‘Hey, how ya doin” and a wave of the hand from him.

And then ‘one thing led to another’ (the writer’s convenient catch-all phrase)

And now an empty chair.

And the elements of life happening now, in my own outer circle, remind me that – at some point and inevitably – there will be more empty chairs.  Not just around my own dinner table, but at Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, birthday celebration tables… dinners with friends, neighborhood get togethers.  Even, these days, by keyboards and monitors… online friends I may or may not have ever gotten the chance to hug in person.

And, to get completely lachrymose (ya, googled that one)…

One day my own chair will be empty.

And as sad and tragic as the circumstances leading to those empty chairs can often be…

And as beautiful and celebratory a life now gone, but well lived and loved, can be

None of this is a surprise.

Life happens.

And Death has its place, its role… its script…

Its message.

And I think its message to me is… “It’s the not the chair, you moron. Look at what you said above.”

Huh… look at that… death has my sense of humor.

‘Life happens?’


‘The thing about lachrymose? Because that was good, I think.’

Sigh. No.

”Dinner table… neighborhood… keyboards… monitors…”

No. No. No. No.

“Oh, wait… do you mean, ‘and… one thing led to another?”

Bingo. there you go.

And then, yes… I did see.

And one thing led to another

Not just the writer’s convenient catch-all phrase.

Not that at all.

We’re born and… one thing leads to another… then we leave this life.

And whether we are here for mere moments, or for more than a century…

It’s all about the one thing…

leading to another.

It’s not about the empty chair at all.

The empty chairs are just markers of love’s time given and spent with other humans.

So I thought a bit more.

And then I realized.

Lots of empty chairs in my life… means a lot of love has happened here.

How lucky am I… to worry about a lot of empty chairs?

And then I smiled.

Thanks for readin’.


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