Kitchen tables are immeasurably underrated. I believe some of my most important lessons in life were learned around my mother’s kitchen table. People would drop in and if mother had nothing else to serve, she’d open a bottle of peaches, peaches from her own orchard, slice some homemade bread and place them on her starched yellow and white gingham tablecloth, then she’d put on the coffee. But, what we ate didn’t matter. What did matter were the people. Facing one another, we were all equal participants in the chatter and sharing of life and its many lessons.
I learned that we don’t always deserve what we get. My brother and I were late for school and gobbling down our breakfast. Mother had recently had some serious dental work. Suddenly, without provocation, my mother’s hand flew up in the air landing sharply on my brother’s shoulder. He was stunned and his shoulder hurt. Turning to look at mother with bewildered eyes the size of her coffee cup he pleaded, “What was that for?”
Mother turned her red, pain-distorted face to him, “I’m sorry son. I accidentally bit down on my sore tooth and well, you just happened to be there.”
I chuckle when I remember this but it does help me every time I am cut off in traffic. I am a more tolerant person because of this lesson.
Comforting others can be a natural part of life. Being only in grade school and hardly understanding the term, divorce, I recall a Home Ec. teacher sitting at my mother’s kitchen table crying about her wayward husband. I’d never seen a teacher cry. Within a month, a neighbor was sitting in the same chair and likewise crying. I’d never seen a man cry so hard. His wife had left him. I witnessed both of these people pour out their pain. Yet, I saw them leave partly smiling, having been comforted and buoyed up by my mother while sitting at that table.
Now, I sit at my own kitchen table, and although I don’t serve homemade bread, I do serve my own stories. My young son sits beside me. He just lost his bride and his heart is broken. I cannot heal it, but I pat his hand comforting him with some of the many lessons I learned while I sat at my mother’s kitchen table.
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