The big table tells the story. I needed to clear it off to set it for dinner, so I took inventory of the stuff of life that lay scattered across the top.
Lenny’s commuter bag that he carries on the bus with him every day was perched at one end. Among other things, a stack of paperback books stood on top of a white invoice sheet. The table cloth bore some faint food stains from the last gathering.
If you know how to read the signs, the big table tells the story of our life.
I grabbed Lenny’s bag to hang it up where it belongs. I thought about how my husband gets up five days a week, in winter dark and summer dawn, to get on a bus, to go to his job, to provide for his family. On top of his day job, he has two bands with at least one gig each week. I never want to take his faithfulness for granted.
The spots on the tablecloth came from a dinner party I had last week for the birthday of one of my friends. There were seven of us laughing, sharing, and laughing some more. These are “my girls,” a group of women who have been meeting together, ostensibly to celebrate birthdays, for most of 30 years. We have been through a lot, celebrating and mourning together. My heart is full.
The most remarkable item on the table is the stack of books by Dostoevsky, Kerouac, Shakespeare, and Dickens. They belong to my son, Joe, who moved home last summer. At age 23, Joe has become a serious reader.
Now he can afford to build up his personal library, and it’s an impressive lot. We often spent summer afternoons sitting in the backyard reading. On these colder evenings and weekends, I can find Lenny and Joe in the family room where they are enjoying a nice fire, and reading. It’s a dream come true for an English Major mom.
During the last year, our relationship with Joe has completely and utterly changed. To our surprise, it’s been nothing short of wonderful to have him living here.
On Thanksgiving we will gather around the big table. It will be draped with a fresh tablecloth, and laden with bounty. Our son, John, will be there with his girlfriend, her mom and little brother. My sister, Jeanette, our friend Diana, and Bryan, another long-time family friend will take a seat with Joe, Lenny and me. Happy the Beagle will look at the turkey with longing in his big brown eyes.
Yes, the big table tells the story. And “grateful” seems like such an inadequate word.