I still remember the first time I met her, emerging from the shadow of her garage to meet us at the car. Her eyes were the same piercing blue as his; or rather, I suppose, his, hers. I think I told her so right then.
I don’t know if he and I were in love yet but we were headed in that direction. He brought me home to meet his parents, after all; obviously, something was simmering.
Three decades are sandwiched between then and now but I can still recall two things about that weekend: initial introductions and Sunday lunch.
A college sophomore subsisting on starchy dining hall fare, I had come to deeply appreciate home cooking. It was a thing a kid takes for granted if they’re fortunate enough to have a family that gathers for dinner more often than not (I was one of the lucky ones). Sarah’s table was beautiful, set with Haviland china, sterling, and crystal. Platters and bowls full of comfort covered every square inch. Everything looked – and smelled – delicious. It wouldn’t take long to find out every dish delivered what it promised.
I wasn’t shy about helping myself to seconds, and Sarah declared how glad she was for her son to bring home a girl who would eat. I was a little embarrassed at her observation, but I took it as the sincere compliment she intended.
That was the first of dozens (hundreds?) of meals I’d enjoy around my in-law’s table. Sarah’s recipes account for a substantial portion of my own culinary arsenal. Her fried chicken is magical, her sour cream pound cake might well be the best in the world, and Thanksgiving isn’t the same without her dressing. Her hand-pressed butter mints are magical.
Sarah’s life has preached hospitality without her ever needing to say a word; she’s a There you are! person from the moment you step through her door. Around her table, there’s always room for one more. Her whole life has been an offering poured out in service to others, most often through her oven.
She has always understood that something special happens when family and friends gather ’round a table. Frequently using her china taught me not to wait to use my own. Sarah recognized that extraordinary moments are found within our ordinary days.
But with Thanksgiving next week and Christmas just around the corner,
I’m acutely aware how life has changed….
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I hope you’ll click to complete reading Love at The Table over at Grace Table. Grab tissues….
Thank you for a heartfelt story. It is hard to watch loved ones slowly die from dementia. I watched my mother get bed ridden for two years before succumbing to it.
I pray God blesses you for cooking for you in-laws. I know your father-in-law was blessed.
My favorite side dish is broccoli casserole. Cook broccoli (I use frozen). Mix mayonnaise, cheese and egg together. Put over broccoli in casserole dish. top with more cheese and cracker crumbs. Bake. YUMMY!!