We are now the proud owners of a recliner.
A gen-u-ine La-Z-Boy, dark brown microfiber.
This is our new normal. Along with blood glucose screenings, heart monitors and endless trips to the clinic.
Our family had a life-changing moment a month or so ago, when my husband was hospitalized after a heart attack and assorted complications.
He is adapting well. He has transitioned to a new diet without complaint. A cheerful sort, he has amazed his doctors and nurses with his positive attitude. We are banking on that.
But for the time being he is most comfortable sleeping in a semi-upright position. Hence the recliner.
Generally, I am not a big fan of this mode of furniture.
When we walked into the store, it was as if my grandmother’s living room had appeared before me. “Do you have any that aren’t quite so ... puffy?” I asked.
I asked if there were any other styles available, and she said that was the only one that fit his frame: 6 foot 1, 200 pounds.
I’m no expert, but I think that’s a fairly standard size for today’s American male.
“You have 500 recliners, and this is the only one that fits him?” I asked.
Well, she explained, the store has quite a few models for your 300-pound male, and even a row for the 500-pounders, but they’re much bigger. (There’s a big demand for those?)
Meanwhile, my son was test-driving the $1,500 model with remote-control massage and tilt action that practically lifts you out of the chair. Not to mention a pull-out desk and cupholder. He looked up at me hopefully.
No, I answered silently with that raised eyebrow he knows means business. (My husband didn’t even bother.)
OK, I asked the saleswoman, how about a different fabric?
Eight weeks for a custom-order.
But he needed to sleep NOW. So she gave us the standard fabric swatches, which we took home to compare with our other furniture and returned the next day with our selection.
No go. They didn’t have a chair in that particular fabric in stock.
So we wound up with the chocolate brown fake suede, sight-unseen, because the store had no sample to show us.
This is not typical for me. For any large purchase I tend to study the options, research quality, comparison-shop prices, the works.
But life-changing moments have a way of ... well, changing your priorities.
He needed that chair. And that’s that.
As it turns out, it’s fine. Big, but fine. I haven’t decided what to do with the cute little slipper chair it replaced, which no one liked sitting in anyway.
My husband is more comfortable — when he’s not shooing a certain 12-year-old out of the chair.
“When can I get a recliner?” my son asked the other day.
I gave him the raised eyebrow.
In the meantime, we are making other changes, like trying not to stress over the little things that drove up my worry-meter before: unintended slights I might have dwelled on, slow drivers (OK, I haven’t let go of that one), careless comments from teachers. They’re just not as important.
One day, while my husband was still in the hospital, I raced out to the parking garage to run some errands before we had to meet with one of his doctors. I just missed the elevator up to the skydeck (usually the only level with open spaces), so I paced back and forth waiting for the next one. I’d been a little anxious that week, and walking calmed my nerves.
A woman nearby watched me for a minute and then said, “Not fast enough for you, huh?”
I stopped, not sure how to take that, but replied with a smile, “Yes, I have a lot to do in an hour before I have to get back here.”
“And that coffee’s gonna help with that?” she asked, gesturing to my cup of iced tea.
I gaped at her, and she quickly added, “Whatever works, right?”
But the “judgyness” had come through loud and clear. Which was astonishing to me, knowing we were in a hospital environment where at any moment a person might be grieving for a loved one.
At the other end of the spectrum are all the people who have jumped in to help us these last few weeks, some from unexpected quarters. We’ve been stunned and gratified by the cards, messages, gifts, food, lawn mowing, rides for our children and more. I realize now how many times I failed to adequately help others in crisis.
So be kind, because you never know why someone might be having a bad day. Help out when you can. And don’t rule out a recliner. They’re pretty comfortable.
Julie Wurth writes blogs about kids and families and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below or contact her at 351-5226, email@example.com or follow her at Twitter.com/jawurth.
Photo: I suppose fake brown suede is better than orange and blue leather (at least this season). News-Gazette file photo