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Ode to the Orange Chairs – by Mary Rohrer-Dann

Ode to the Orange Chairs

A sister texts the family: Last call. 
The orange chairs go to the dumpster today.

Side by side in their orange chairs, my parents 
watched Carol BurnettEverybody Loves Raymond
Dad dozing, Mom mending or knitting. 

In winter’s hush, they listened to Handel and Brahms, 
watched snow fall beyond the glass, swirl round 
the Dickens Village houses aglow on the wide sill.

Dad’s last Thanksgiving, we gathered for a photo.
Mom leaned against him in his orange chair, 
kissed his cheek. Grandkids sat at his feet.

New Year’s, in his chair, his heart stopped.
Revived, he returned to us for one more month.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the hospice nurse said

Soon. Maybe a few days. A day. Tomorrow.
Two of us knelt beside our mother in her chair.
We held her hands, held her, told her 

what she knew but refused to know.

Later, she moved to a small one-bedroom. 
The orange chairs, cupping memories 
of home, helped make a new home

where we sat together watching old shows
mit Kaffee undKuchen, or red wine and brie.
We paged old photo albums that kindled stories.

Her stories grew darker. Bitter. Jumbled. 

Another move, another winnowing. We crammed 
the orange chairs into Assisted Living.
When she was found pushing her walker
in the street three blocks away, heading 
to Germany, the facility kicked her out.

We searched for another nursing home.
She shuttled between our houses.
The orange chairs moved to storage.

Now she lives in a narrow room. Narrow bed, 
narrow closet. A few family photos, her stuffed dog, 
a comforter she knit in another life.

The orange chairs go to the dumpster.

About the author:

Mary Rohrer-Dann is a writer and painter living in State College, PA. These poems are part of a work-in-progress, Taking the Long Way Home, which chronicles her mother’s life and long fall into dementia.  Most recent publications include Vita Brevis and Literary Yard.  Two earlier collections, La Scaffetta: Poems from the Foundling Drawer, and Accidents of Being, were adapted to stage by Tempest Productions, Inc. and produced in NYC; State College, PA; and Philadelphia.

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