A Table of Memories: A Memorial for My Grandma
The Right Kitchen Table
Upon our move 3 years ago, we purchased a small cheap black table that seats four to fit in our kitchen. Proving to be cheap in cost and quality, it quickly fell apart. Our second kitchen table entered our home courtesy of my mother donating a table they once used as a computer desk. The size and color worked in our kitchen, but the table, being stained black, didn't make for the most practical kitchen table since frequent wipe downs were required. At that time, we also "borrowed" some unused chairs from my parents' that complimented the table. While not ideal, we grew accustomed to the imperfections and saved ourselves the cost of buying a new table.
Then came the recent call from my mother informing me that my Grandpa would be getting rid of his kitchen table following his and his current wife's move into a rental home. This table belonged to him and to my Grandma prior to her death 8 years ago. My mom informed her father that we could really use that kitchen table before she even asked me. Interestingly I hadn't really noticed the table in my Grandpa's apartments over these last few years. I guess it failed to catch my attention in a different location. I listened as my mother reminded me that this was my Grandma's table and that she didn't want this table going to just anyone: it belongs in the family. I heartily agreed, and I told her to tell my Grandpa that we wanted the table. Then, I mentioned to my mom that if the table didn't end up matching or fitting our kitchen, I was sure another member of our family would like it. Let's keep it in the family, indeed. I'm not usually an overly sentimental person with material things, though.
The day for the table's grand entrance arrived. My husband and father went to pick up the table. As they set it in our kitchen for the first time, I found the table to be a delightful fit. It's not your modern style, but classic enough to avoid an extremely dated look. The size was just right, and the color matched our wood floors and doors. Within a few days, I was certain this table looked better than either of the two previous tables we'd tried. Something else happened in the following days as well. This table became more and more familiar to me. I remembered this table. Vivid memories of my grandparents' house filled my mind. As I would sit down at the table, I remembered my Grandma.
My Grandma. She was the matriarch in our family, the tie that bound us all together. She spent her life investing in the lives of others, beginning with her family. My memory extends back to playing the children's "memory game" with her and finding it riveting. My Grandma put together puzzles with us, played games, and made us forts of blankets and chairs and pillows filling an entire room, She always had a freezer full of ice cream treats from the time we were small until past adulthood. Somehow unwrapping an ice cream sandwich at Grandma's as an adult transported me back to childhood. The older I grew the more I treasured conversations with her about daily life, politics, world events, family, and the Lord. And with Grandma's quick wit, our conversation often contained laughter.
As a young mother and wife, my Grandma would carefully launder and iron her children's consignment shop clothes to make them look new. I've heard my family tease that she even ironed my Grandpa's underwear. She would fix meals to suite all five children and please her husband's apetite. Her well kept home and family were balanced by her ability to stir up excitement. Upon hearing the fire truck sirens, her and her children would jump in the car to follow the procession to the small town's big news of the day. More than once they visited "lover's lane" shining their lights on disgruntled teenagers. As her children grew into adulthood, my Grandma initiated each family gathering, made each accomplishment in our lives special, kept in close contact by calling all 5 of her children daily, and made her home an invitiation to anyone who wished to visit. And we did! More than once a week, we flocked not just to her home, but to her table to sit near her, share our lives, and listen to her interesting and often humorous stories.
My Grandma had a magnetic personality which meant that even at the age of 70 she could subtly and quickly draw people to herself even in a crowded room. Her children and grandchildren were the center of her world, but her love and interest in people extended to her brothers and sisters, neices and nephews, cousins, friends and beyond. She could easily make friends with someone in a doctor's waiting room. Give her a few minutes, and she knew details about a stranger I wouldn't have even started a conversation with. Her extended family treasured her phone calls, being updated on our family and sharing the news of their own. My Grandma knew all the right questions to ask, and people would pour their hearts out to her. She was a favorite Aunt and a close friend. During her children's teenage years, the teens of their small town gravitated toward my Grandma's house not simply to hang out with her kids, but to visit with her. They would stay late sitting around my Grandma's table laughing and sharing their problems with her. She excelled as a friend, aunt, sister, wife mother and grandmother. And her legacy lives on in our hearts and lives.
At My Grandma's Table
And now here in my kitchen sits her table. What makes a table special? Well, if you walked into my Grandma's front door, you would see her face immediately in view sitting at the kitchen table on the side nearest the wall where she could reach the phone mounted behind her and welcome any visitor who graced her home. This is the image in my mind of entering my Grandma's home. Ninety percent of the time she was sitting right there at her kitchen table.
This is the table where I remember playing Scrabble with my Grandma. She was our champ, and you knew when you reached a point that you could contend with her or beat her at this game, your Scrabble skills had truly arrived. It is at this table that we shared holiday gatherings (with more tables added for our large family), like Thanksgiving. One Thanksgiving Grandma had us all happily sitting around playing a game of BINGO complete with prizes. She sat at the table spinning the the numbers, and my Grandpa in all of his seriousness would properly read them aloud.
This is the table where I helped Grandma make dozens upon dozens of sugar cookies for her kids and their families for Christmas. After stirring the batter, rolling the dough, and eventually icing and decorating the cookies, we giggled and swore we never wanted to make them again. It was at this table that she fixed the best salads and homemade vegetable soups alongside my Grandpa. They were a team. We realized after her death, Grandpa couldn't make either near so well without her guidance. At this table nearly two years before her death, my mother, my Grandma, and I made pumpkin pies together for the holidays, a memory I've forever cherished.
This is the table where she kept a grocery bag hooked behind her chair as a convenient trash bag when she grew older and less mobile, so she could avoid multiple trips to the trash can or inconveniencing anyone ele. This is the table where as she aged and ailments increased, I would watch her sort her many pills, far too many pills, and slip out a curse word when she lost track of where she was in the sorting process.
This is the table where she and my Grandpa read the Word of God and a devotional aloud each morning. If you spent the night at their house you would inevitably wake up to their voices as they prayed together every morning. My Grandma would passionately pray for each of her children, their spouses and her grandchildren by NAME, and then continue on to pray for special needs of other friends and family, of our nation, for our leaders and the world.
And finally, it was at that table that less than 4 months before her death, I sat and unknowingly recorded final footage of my Grandma. Excited to use the new video camera I received for Christmas, I taped her talking with us at her kitchen table-- making us laugh with comments about her unkempt hair and sharing the latest family updates. This is the table that graced her kitchen for nearly the last decade of her life. And now it graces mine.
My Grandpa came over just two days after we received the table, providing us with the two leaves that belong with it. He showed me how they had purchased this table in 1994. Then he looked at my 4-year-old daughter and said, "Your mommy sat at this table A LOT growing up." Such simple words, and yet, powerful. My Grandpa talks very little of my Grandma since he remarried, a tragedy for our whole family to rarely hear him speak her name or share memories of our lives that would inevitably include her. In attempts to not upset his new wife's sensitivities, we have suffered the pain of his silence about our mother and grandmother. His comment regarding this kitchen table subtly reminded me of the private memories and love he holds deep within himself each day for the one true love of his life, his wife of over 50 years-- my Grandma. He once told my mother, he thinks of her all the time, everyday. On rare occasions like this one, when he's alone with his family, he'll give us a glimpse of that truth. His words to my daughter meant nothing to her at her age. Not really. But for me, my heart felt connected again with him in the memories we shared together at that table with her... unspoken memories that lie deep inside us that no one can touch or take, not even silence.
A Table of Memories
Just a few days ago, I sat down at the kitchen table to eat breakfast. My two young daughters had finished eating their cereal and ran off to play. I sat there alone, looking at the empty chair in front of me. If this table were in my Grandma's kitchen, that would be her seat, right against the wall facing me. I imagined for a moment her sitting there with me. Images of her flashed through my mind.
This table. Such a simple unassuming table, yet evoking powerful remembrances of loving and being loved. This is more than a table made of wood. This is a table where memories were built. My two little girls rushed back into the kitchen snapping my mind back into the here and now. Their smiles beamed up at me, their voices erupted with chatter, their little bodies climbed up into my arms... Yes, this is a table where memories were built, and in our home, we are building them once more.
More by this Author
- 34Birthday Cakes from Scratch: Decorating Ideas for Your Child's Birthday Cake Plus an Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe.
Do you need ideas and easy tips for decorating homemade birthday cakes? Look here for ways to make great children's birthday cakes without a lot of cake culinary skills and expense. Plus, here's an easy chocolate cake...
Paint can transform the look of your home for a low cost. Here you can see the results that painting cabinetry, paneling, cement, and brick can bring. Plus you'll find basic tips for these specific painting jobs.
Here's your top ten gifts to give to a mother that's just had a baby. What does a new mom really hope for or NEED? When giving a gift to new parents it's important to zero in on what truly matters during this most...