There are things and then there are things. You know, you may own a rare one-of-a-kind something or other, but it doesn’t come close to meaning as much as, say, that first love letter from your kids’ mama so long ago. I guess you could say these things may have no dollar value, but they are priceless when it comes to heart value.
I should know. I keep an old box full of ticket stubs, photos, hospital bracelets, rodeo posters, old passports, baby blankets, Valentine’s Day cards, and a letter from Iraq. You get the idea: all junk to anyone else, but not to me. They are my tangible links to the past.
So while we’re taking this tour of the heart treasures, let me direct your attention over here to this corner of the room. Yes, I know, you’d have missed it if I hadn’t pointed it out. It don’t look like much, but if this house caught on fire, it would be one of the first things I’d grab to save from the flames.
I grew up playing in this old rocker. It always sat in the corner, and when I’d climb into it and get a little wild with my rocking, someone invariably would say something like, “Pull that confounded thing out away from the wall, it ain’t no carnival ride.”
My guess is that my Dad and Grandpa got the same scolding.
The first owner of this chair was my great grandfather, Calvin Wade Hampton. He was born in the 1870s, and although I’ve got a picture of me and ol’ Calvin from when I was a baby, I never knew him. It may sound funny, but although I never really knew him, I’ve always sorta missed him, so this old rocking chair is my tangible link to him.
Calvin, or C.W., was a horse and mule trader and we both share Wade as our middle name. Family legend says he was a good part Cherokee and he looked it. It’s also told that he and an older son drove some decommissioned cavalry ponies to Alberta to sell to the Mounties up there! Did he plan this adventure while sitting in this chair?
This piece of furniture is stained dark brown – almost black – but the arm rests are worn to a light natural color. The ends of the arm rests are polished smooth and bare from the fists that have clutched them over the years. Come to think of it, I do that, too, when I’m stewing over something. Is this an inherited trait?
When I take a seat in this rocking chair, I take comfort in knowing I’m sitting in a place where three generations of Hampton men before me have sat, read newspapers, and thought. It’s one of my favorite places to take my first swig of morning coffee. Right now, I’m writing this by pencil on a yellow legal pad and sitting – you guessed it! – in my old rocking chair. As soon as I’m done, I know my 3 year old son, Ethan, will want to climb up here and rock. When he does, I will say, without even thinking, “Son, pull that confounded thing out from the wall, it ain’t no carnival ride.”
Ah, some things never change. Maybe someday, in the dim and distant tomorrow, future generations of Hamptons will use this old rocking chair as their “tangible link to the past,” and it will remain as something of great heart value.
What are your things of great heart value?