My mother has long since passed into the spirit world. The house with the formal dining room belongs to someone new; and the fancy furniture was sold when Dad moved to a small apartment a few years before his passing. Now the memories of family gathered around that table exist only in our hearts and mind, but if I shut my eyes I can still see it clearly...
Mom, wearing one of the cover-up terry cloth aprons I had made her over her church dress, standing in the kitchen checking on the turkey, beef roast, or ham; stirring gravy that was simmering on the stove, and forcing boiled potatoes through the ricer that turned them into a fluffy mound. A Jello salad of some kind was chilling in the refrigerator, and dessert was cooling on the counter, or had been made the day before and was waiting to be served.
Earlier we had helped Mom pull the two sides of the dining table apart, extending the space between them to expose the metal framework that supported the extra table leaves she kept stored in the closet in a quilted bag, waiting to be retrieved for such occasions. Once the leaves were safely locked in place, she covered the table with a liner and then a tablecloth made of lace. China and crystal goblets were retrieved from the hutch, and the good silverware was taken from it's chest. Mom was particular about how the table was set, so we learned to do it correctly when we were young; no haphazard placement would suffice, and napkins were to be folded just so. There was always candles and some sort of centerpiece for each occasion too.
In my mind I can see the table set and waiting, and I have to admit that once the candles were lit, and the light from her beloved chandelier (that I cursed when it came time for cleaning) sparkled from up above, it truly was a beautiful setting. My mother wanted celebrations of any kind to be special, and with her in charge they always were.
Those extra table leaves did their duty over the years, extending the table to it's full length for birthday dinners, holidays shared with relatives, and events like high school graduation. As time passed my sisters and I married, and before long there were highchairs and booster seats pulled up to the table too. Of course Dad always presided at the head of the table, and Mom sat opposite him at the far end near the dining room door, so that she could easily access the kitchen to refill serving bowls, meat platters, and drinks, and serve wonderful desserts when we all finished with the main course. Dinner wasn't over until everyone was stuffed! Conversation, laughter, the clatter of china and silver, and the noise of children, rose up together... I realize now how much mom treasured those times when we all sat around her table.
I cannot tell you how sad it was to gather at that table after my mom died. It never felt right with her empty chair, everyone seemed a little more subdued. I have no doubt though, that she was still present and watching over us as the candles flickered, the chandelier sparkled, and the voices of her children rose up together once again.
I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "leave"...
Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!