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The Empty Chair

When I was little, my dad had bought an old dump truck and tractor, ready to start his next adventure of hauling sand and gravel to unknown destinations. The truck was old and bounced around more than any roller coaster I had ever been on. But oh did it have some power behind it, or maybe that was just the man behind the wheel that I am remembering, my father. Dad soon added some decal lettering onto the side of the truck using stencil and some spray paint to emphasize his name and contact information. My mother then went and took the next step to have business cards made up with my father’s name, adding to the bottom of the cards “and daughter Riley.” Even though it was my father’s new adventure, it soon became my own also. I would eagerly jump into that old truck and head down the to gravel pit with him, and then quickly mount onto the old tractor to start loading up our haul.

When dad had bought the truck, there was only the driver seat. Where a passenger seat would normally go, there sat a void, the seat had long since been removed before the sell of the truck. My father thought the most logical answer to this issue would be to throw an old folding lawn chair into its place. This chair was the kind that had two inch strips of the colors green and white, that were woven in and out of one another, and often had loose strings that would poke into you and make you feel that you were sitting on a pin cushion rather than a chair. I loved this chair, that is until dad would turn a corner or hit a large bump in the road, then the chair would get a mind of its own and travel around the cab of the truck. I suppose a seat belt would have helped this issue, but dad never mentioned wearing one. Come to think of it, I am not sure the old truck even had one. It is amazing how in some circumstances that could have put you in danger, you felt so safe just because of the person you sat next to.

That old truck and tractor would eventually be sold, but not before my father had time to give all of his grand-kids rides in the truck and then in the bucket of the old tractor. I am not sure who those cherished moments meant more to, the kids, or to dad. I often think back to that old chair and the memories that it held, and also to the old recliner that had become a favorite of my fathers. Empty chairs. I lost my father when I was eleven, so there were not a lot of years that I could hold on to. But the few that I had, they were my everything.

Sometimes in life we find ourselves surrounded by empty chairs. The chairs may even still be occupied, maybe by someone that we once loved, or even someone we are still trying to find reasons to love. The chair, however, is empty. There sits a void, you can feel it in the air and the distance between you. Sometimes, the ride even feels a little bit bumpy, but you still search for that little bit of happiness in the travel. Other times, you look at that empty chair and long for what is gone, what you can never get back again, and you know it is time to just let it go.

When you get to the end of your journey and look back on your life, are you going to mourn for the empty chair? Or are you going to look at the chair next to you and feel comfort, security, companionship, growth, and most importantly-love. Sometimes your empty chair might be the exact chair someone else needs to complete their set. And maybe, just maybe, your next chair is out there searching for its match but you only have one spot, and it is already taken by the piece you are trying so hard not to let go of….

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tod Sorensen #

    Isn’t it curious how some of our most cherished memories are made from events that don’t involve expensive trips to exotic places, but rather simple things that in the grand scheme of time will go unrecorded, but in our book of life will marked with a bookmark of love.


    December 22, 2019
  2. Beautiful.
    I had my dad for a lot longer, though the relationship was very fraught.
    It struck me, reading this, that there is an empty chair I need to put down on the basis that, well, I did the best I could with what I had. I’ve been told that a few times, but today was the clearest it hit me.
    I wrote a lot of this out in a piece that spilled out after dad’s funeral last year… and new roads lie ahead… but a few things today reminded me that the ghosts in empty chairs often have their own agendas.


    May 25, 2021

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