Monday, September 16, 2013

Grandma's Table

Growing up, the dining room table was the gathering place at my Grandma's house.

It didn't matter that there normally was delicious food of some kind she wanted to feed you, it's just where we lingered.  Where family was.  Sometimes the room would be so full, there'd be two to a chair, elbows rubbing, laughter overflowing.

Often, as young kids we'd get booted from the chairs to sit under the strong oak table and play amongst the legs of adults, or we'd crawl to the nearby hall. At times we would "spy" on their conversations, as if swapping fishing stories or the ribbings during a Rook game were anything for us to hear.

As an adult, I treasured visits with my grandparents and savored their undivided attention.  We'd chat about everything and sit in silence watching the birds over a glass of sweet tea.  As they aged and health problems grew, I'd bring them treats and even meals to keep Grandma from having to cook.  And they'd enjoy them with me at the table.

But in her better days, could she ever cook.  Home-grown, fried with love, good Grandma cooking.  The kind I've never been able to duplicate, even with the help of her hand written recipes.  How I long to sit at Grandma's table and savor fresh bass dipped in ketchup, her famous wine chicken, or ooey-gooey eggplant Parmesan.  The only dish I've somewhat mastered is Grandpa stew and this cooler weather certainly has me longing for a steamy bowl!

All these memories are stirring within my stomach - and my soul - after lunch with family today.  Grandma's sister, Mary, and Grandpa's sister's children, whom we rarely see, along with my mom and her siblings took up the back half of a local diner.  Plates of meat and three passed around, with room saved for a homemade Italian cream cake, brought with permission.  Watching these familiar but aged faces, comfort of family falling so easily into place, I was reminded of days gone by. 

More than the meals of my childhood, I miss the familiar.  I miss the regular gathering of that side of the family, as our grandparents were the central magnet that brought and kept us all together.  I miss Grandma and Grandpa and all that they were.  But I'm thankful for the moments and memories I can now hold dear.

And I'll joyfully await our next family gathering, already planned before we parted. Until October...


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