By Helen Gibbs Pohlot

When you look around your home and say this stuff has to go, it is time for a yard sale or a posting on craigslist.

Over the past weekend, I put a few items on Craigslist to satisfy my need to declutter and clean house.

The first things to sell were my husband’s Power Rack, Bench, Olympic weights and ten chairs that turned our finished basement into a gym.  The chairs and most of the weights are gone while the huge Power Rack and bench leave Saturday morning. With the considerable money my husband made from the sale, he joined a gym.

After more than 20 years in the house, it will be nice to use the basement for something other than working out.  Maybe a pool table or a home theater.

The other items we posted were a table, sewing machine, and antique rocking chair. The table and sewing machine got no response, but we received a call about the rocker.  A lovely couple showed up to look at the chair.

They instantly liked it and inquired about its age and history.

“The chair is probably 100 years old. It belonged to my brother-in-law’s grandmother. She used to rock him to sleep in that chair when he was a baby,” I told them.

“My mother had it and gave it to me when she downsized.  I like the chair but don’t have any more room for it.”

As the woman inquired about the chair’s dimensions while the man examined it, memories of my brother-in-law came rushing back. His name was Willard, but everyone called him Winky. In his late teens, he drove the hottest car in town, a green sleek looking charger. He met my sister and it was love at first sight.

I believe it was in his late twenties that Winky developed severe rheumatoid arthritis.  With both knees and both hips replaced as a young man, his level of physical challenge would have been insurmountable for most people.  I remember thinking that Winky was a true champion, despite tremendous pain and suffering he went to work every day running a construction company. He was an exceptional person that I truly admired for his courage and strength.

For some unknown reason, I don’t know what came over me; I told the woman and man looking at the chair about Winky.  I said that Winky was one of the best people I ever knew and he died a horrible death, way too young. In 2006 at the age of 56, Winky passed away from a devasting reaction to a drug meant to treat  RA.

“He was one of the good people who left this world much too soon,” I said. “Winky was a brother to me, and I miss him.”

On the verge of tears, I was ready to tell the people to leave and that I was keeping the chair.  As the words were about to come out of my mouth, the woman turned to me and said, “I know how you feel. I lost my daughter when she was 18.”

They shared their story, and my heart broke for these two strangers telling me about their child.

We talked for over an hour standing in my driveway.  The woman said she was happy I told her the history of the chair.

“Everything has a story, and this is Winky’s chair,” she said.

I felt much better letting them have the chair.  It found a good home as I realized it was not just another chair.

As we put the chair in the SUV, the woman turned to me and said, “How do you spell Winky’s name?”

“W I N K Y,” I said.

The woman replied, “I will make a little pillow with his name on it for the chair.”


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