Saturday, September 29, 2012


About three or four years before he died, my father started writing down his life story at my request.
He wrote in pencil and filled one wire-bound notebook completely and another partially.
He also talked more about his life during that time, and I asked more questions, about his childhood and his life in general.
I treasure the stories he left behind.
This is a poem based in part on stories he told me. It’s not completely biographical. But I have a little chair that was used similarly to the way it’s depicted in the poem.
I wrote it years ago, but I recently rewrote part of it.

By Tina Fariss Barbour

His great-grandmother held him all one winter
by the woodstove fire.
She held him all winter,
pressing his face against her chest
dressed in soft, black cotton,
clasping him gently as if he were
a newborn with a pliant head.

He was three, sick with rheumatic fever,
too fretful for his trundle bed.

She didn’t sit in a rocking chair,
but a straight, low, handmade chair.
She crossed her thin ankles,
rising only for dinner
or water from a wooden bucket.

The hours made an imprint,
Oval sink in the pine,
Smooth as if sanded for splinters.

When the fever left him,
she turned over the chair,
seat’s edge against the floor,
and he crawled, shaking
then walked again,
pushing the chair
until its edges were rounded.

  Do you have a piece of furniture or other item that’s been passed down to you that holds a special meaning?


  1. You are so fortunate (and wise to have asked) to have your fathers stories written down, a treasure indeed.
    I have my mothers "hope chest" which my father bought my mother when they got engaged so that has special meaning. Also a portrait of my grandfather that was painted by a pretty famous local artist and has hung in museums - my father gave it to me and asked me to take care of the painting for him just before he died. And I have a rocking chair that was one of the only items my great grandmother was able to bring with her to the US from Germany. These things I hold dear to my heart since they have so much meaning behind them to me.

    1. Krystal Lynn, how wonderful that you have those items! I agree that it's the meaning behind the object that is so important.

  2. That is so beautiful! I love how you brought out the warmth and love and tied it to the chair.

  3. Oh, how beautiful!!

    I'm trying to think, but I can't come up with any treasured item that's been passed down. This makes me want to come up with something to pass down to my future generations.

    1. Sunny, That's great to consider your future generations. It doesn't have to be anything big. It's the meaning and history behind it that makes it special, I think.

  4. What a sweet poem and nicely done.

  5. What a beautiful poem Tina!
    I have a ring I got from my first husband. It's silver with zirconia's. Nothing expensive, but with a huge emotional value.
    From my mother in law I got all her embroidery tread that my father in law bought for her, and it feels so special to use it in memory of them.
    My own parents are still alive, from them I haven't really got anything special. (yet)

    1. Thank you, Klaaske! You have some meaningful items. I love that you are using the embroidery thread to make things in memory of your in-laws. That is a beautiful thing to do.

  6. Beautiful poem, Tina. I have a handmade down comforter and some candlesticks that belonged to my grandmother. I was her only granddaughter and she would often take out her jewelry box to show me the necklace that used to belong to her mother that she was saving for me. But then her home was burglarized and the necklace was stolen. She was devastated, but I cherish the memories of that time spent with her.

    1. Janet, Thank you!

      That is terrible that the necklace was stolen. But how wonderful that you have good memories to cherish. Those are so important.

  7. What an incredible thing to have! I have some of my grandfather's memoirs. I have posted some of them on my blog, back when I used to host a meme called Memory Lane Friday.

    1. How wonderful, Lisa, to have those memoirs! They are treasures, I'm sure.


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