It was hotter than 90 degrees one summer day forty years ago. The sun was sizzling. Mom plastered us in white cream. As beautiful as ever, and brown as a bear, she made sure us freckle-faced girls were protected. Hours of swimming and reapplying lotion passed; anxiously I ran to the tall chain link fence to await Dad cresting the last hill from the 18th hole. His two wheel chariot was my dream ride. He was my knight bearing a shiny club. Life was perfect; even with the heat.
Yesterday my R.V. was dripping with water. So was I. It seemed we were both crying. “She” from sputtering so much air to keep Finn and I cool. Me?…just sputtering over disappointment. “You can handle the heat!”, I convinced myself.
This is the worst part of me. And it occurs two seasons a year. Movement is limited by the “air I wear”. The battle aches of the arthritis and autoimmune issues try to wreak havoc on my psyche. Luckily, at times, fog will settle into my mind and distract me from the physical.
My hot tears weren’t all about the humidity. Haven’t we all felt the sweltering swirl of disdain? The heat behind the masks? What about the burning tires of busyness~ the rat race in which so many are forced to participate? Can you feel the heat from the roads?
Being an “in the middle” kind of gal I prefer temps in the 70’s. One where the extremes of hot and cold aren’t experienced. Most certainly I would feel spoiled. But would I be prepared the next time for a visit to the frigid cold? Would I still be able to withstand the heat again? Am I even insulated for either?
When things are too hot to handle I have to ground myself. I allow my shoulders to fall and take a deep breath. My face smoothes out and my jaw becomes relaxed. “Thank you heavenly Papa”, as I inhale. Exhaling slowly I whisper a blessing. This isn’t going to last long.
Meanwhile in the rest of the world we are all longing for perfect temperatures and dreamy places to balance our temperaments. The plague continues its spread like a heat wave. You’d think there’d be brief relief from the coolness of indifference.
I’m not alone. You’re not alone. Don’t get burned. Protect yourself and salve your soul with the paste of these promises:
“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” -Proverbs 30:5
“For everyone will be tested with fire.”-Mark 9:49
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.”-Psalms 5:11
“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”-C.S. Lewis
By all means pull up a chair. You’re invited to the Family Table. If you would, please save the head of the table for my Dad. We’re really glad you’re here~whether you’re family or not. Oh, you want to talk? Then could you kindly put down your phone while we eat? We may not all agree. Even if our talk isn’t relatable, I’ll wager you’ll still enjoy the food and the laughter.
Can you smell the enticing aromas wafting from the kitchen? Mom can cook or bake a “mean” anything. Truly she is a “Top Chef”, “The Great Bake-Off” ,”Chopped” winner in my cookbook. Instead of “Hell’s Kitchen” I’ll name it “Hale’s Kitchen”. Before you grab that plate would you join us in prayer?
You go first. Momma always fills up last. And you better fill that plate full! Remember that she has enough to feed an army. At one time there were young ones around that would be seated at the kid’s table (don’t all families have a “kid” table) and us adults would sit at the “big” table. THE FAMILY TABLE.
It was 1970-something on any given Sunday. Us kids sat at our table. Settled around the Family Table were ALL of my grandparents~ and at times, aunts & uncles (even greats!) and cousins. Sometimes I would intently listen to the conversations. Some were serious, others not. And an explosion of laughter always occurred. We had our own “kid” chats and laughter going on too.
By the late 80’s I graduated from the kid’s table to the adult table. All of us would trickle in from a Sunday service at different times (depending on how many hands you shook or hugs you gave after Sunday service). We were a noisy group. Can you hear the giggling and the laughter?
By mid-90’s us “kids” had kids. And there was even more laughter and noise coming through the front door. The path from the front door to the living room and the kitchen should be worn slick. Truly it’s unbelievable that my parents haven’t had to replace the flooring each year.
I’m not for sure if you want to jump in right now on the conversation. It tends to ping back and forth between subject matter.
“What did you think of the service?” You would hear many thoughts and opinions. Those included the length of the preaching to the farmer snoring in his “assigned” pew. What was the intended message for us to receive? We each had our own experience to share or not to share.
“What about current affairs?” And the replies would include various thoughts about politics, administration, current conflicts, and gas prices just to name a few.
“Did you see what they were wearing?” Of course our family spoke about fashion. We might’ve been “country”, but we had some style sense. (Imagine one of my grandmas in her cute dress and the other in her trendy pants and blouses). Comments might include the style and color. We tried to stay trendy.
“Did you see that movie?” And the replies would jump back and forth between comments circling different genres~from crime dramas and romance to historical fiction and epic award-winning big feature films! And of course, comedies.
“Did you hear so and so died?” , “Did you know so and so got married?”, “Did you know so and so had a baby?” Even if I weren’t familiar with that particular person I would know his or her second cousin twice-removed (population 550 during those days). There were, and still are, many conversations of the suffering and celebrations of community members.
“What did you think of the music?” And the replies would range from, “it was too loud” to “that was the best song I’ve ever heard.” Before I speak more of music, Mom would like to know who wants coffee and dessert. When you join us at the Table again, please refrain from making two trips for plate refills; lest, you will deny the dessert (and this makes Momma a bit sad).
If you’re part of the menfolk go ahead and meander towards the living room. More than likely there will be viewing and discussion of golf, baseball, football, horse racing, or other sports that are currently playing (I must admit I liked being in those conversations). Us ladies will stay at the TABLE and gossip visit. “Lord, we know you just spoke to us about being kind to others.”
If you’re a kid, you’re in luck! There’s probably MORE treats in the freezer. Get out there and swing and play! And if you fall, “shake it off!”
Thank you for carrying your plates to the kitchen. Momma will tell you “it’s ok, I’ve got nothing but time to clean this up!” We will all try to pitch in anyway. The sooner we could get the kitchen tidied up, the quicker we’d be to the piano!
“Let’s all sit in the living room where it’s comfy!” Men, kindly end your discussion. Dad, join us at the piano please. Let the music begin. Dad sang bass or treble and Momma sang alto. Us girls would sing whatever we wished. And we all sang our hearts out. Maybe this isn’t your style of music. That’s ok. We’ll belt out “I wanna See Jesus”, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, and my favorite, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”, and still join you singing a country ballad or whatever song you’d like.
Since my first memory of that table (when I could stand under it) I’m astounded at the waves of life changes. Conversations have shifted with times. Politics, fashion, entertainment, people, and music are all still discussed. Although there are less seats around the Table, the spirit of love from all that have gathered there still exists. I feel it each time I sit down. And the aroma of every good memory lingers in the kitchen air.
Year 2020 will be one we’ll never forget. Families are spending more time together, and hopefully, around a family Table. Each table is different. Yet we all share one thing in common besides food~the love of a family. As I look ahead to the future~times with my own adult children and grandkids at their tables, I smile. As I hum a tune, I’ll giggle with them and tell them the stories of love around the Family Table.