THE OLD TABLE


I wonder what stories an inanimate object such as an old dining table might reveal if we were able to listen? Would it sing of families gathered for their daily meals?
Perhaps she who cared for it remembered it from her own childhood, or if found in a quaint old shop, what homes had it rested in?

If a kitchen is the heart of the home, surely a dining table is its handmaiden.

The old woman stood by the table wondering these things. The sound of children pounding on this table while waiting impatiently for breakfast or dinner remains in her ears and she smiles at the memory.

She remembers them sitting diligently doing homework every afternoon as she plied them with cookies and milk. How anxious they were to grow up.

And then there were the grandchildren, who sometimes on a rainy day made “caves” underneath the table, and she let them keep their cave even though it interfered with dinner preparations. Such a little thing to do. She did enjoy spoiling them a bit.

Oh how many dinner parties and holidays this table had seen! A last minute waxing before the pristine white table cloth was gently lowered onto it so as not to muss it up. And the flower arrangements! Too many to even remember. It was so important make sure the silver was polished, and her mother’s crystal shining. It was tradition; this is the way she had been taught by her mother and grandmother.

Holiday dinners with the whole family milling around while the turkey or roast beef (or both) sent out their tantalizing smells were special memories. Everyone trying to help at the same time while children whined because it was taking so long. Her pies had been legendary, and there were alway several for a hoiliday; always pumpkin and apple, and her daughter loved pecan, so she made it for her. Each holiday she made something different that she hadn’t made before, and sometimes they liked it and sometimes they didn’t! She prepared for days ahead.

Do they ever think of those times too? And if they do, were they special to them as well?

Times and customs have changed. When everyone left, there were only two which meant learning to cook all over again, but she did it, and it was a new and different life, special in its own way. More casual perhaps, but satisfying, and there were always occasions when some of the family came again.

And then there was only the old woman, and the old table, though remaining, is in someones else’s dining room. It doesn’t look quite the same she thinks as she caresses the polished surface. Perhaps my eyes are not as strong as they once were, maybe I need new glasses.

“Mother, what are you doing alone in the dining room?” called her daughter. The old woman roused from her reverie replied “I was just remembering.”

GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED


Broke and heedless when young, not so broke and somewhat more careful in our present lives, we’re mostly invisible to the young who are battling their own storms. We have reached the stage of life where ambition, like promuiscuity, is most pleasant when experienced vicariously. Case in point: I can’t remember the last time in my life I found myself truly fascinating. Don’t laugh. That is sad stuff. You should be able to look in your mirror and see someone you might at least like to get to know.

Of course today my nose is red and dripping, and I feel miserable. I could blame my cold on the plane ride, because I have been known to catch every germ known to man on an airplane, but I prefer to think it is because of all the people I kissed at my youngest daughter’s wedding last weekend. Much nicer to think you caught it from people you love instead of fellow passengers you will never see again.

But this is supposed to be a guide to aging, for which I am well qualified, due to my long adulthood.

We learn from Kahlil Gibran: “I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind—-” Never stop learning, it causes the brain to explode into a real mess, and life is hard enough as it is. Pick up on all those old and perhaps dead mentors, you might actually learn something. (If only to keep your mouth shut.)

If you think someone you know has not faced adversity, you simply do not know them well enough. Everyone has something and it is likely to be worse than yours. At any rate, no one likes to listen to all your aches and pains and medications. I can’t stress that last part too strenuously. Old people love to tell you about all their nicks and bumps. Just smile and change the subject.

If you receive an invitation, even if it is to accompany your husband/wife to the gas station, GO! And if you don’t get invited anywhere, go by yourself. Try not to miss out on Life, the dance is over too soon.

Many years ago, I met a charming woman in her 80’s who was so interesting I told my husband that that was the kind of old lady I wanted to be. In typical Dr. Advice fashion he said “You’d better start now.”
Very good advice. Practice charming, or at the very least congeniality.

Lastly, never miss an opportunity to say I love you.