We have weekend guests arriving today and my wife and I were doing a thorough cleaning of the house. We’ve had extensive renos done and everything is dusty and dirty no matter where we look. We took it one room at a time over the last week or so and I found myself mainly concentrating on the kitchen today.
As I was cleaning the kitchen table, it evoked some powerful memories of my mother. She used to love our kitchen table. And I think I know why.
She died about four and a half years ago and we bought our house about ten years ago. We weren’t a family that socialized every week or even every month so in the five years she was alive, while we had our house, she probably dined in our home about twenty-five times. We have a pretty fancy dining room and dining room table but I always sensed my mother never felt all that comfortable there. She didn’t grow up fancy and was never self-assured around fancy. So after a few attempts, I realized my mom would always be happier to eat our dinners in the kitchen. At the kitchen table.
It’s a nice table. Nothing that would stop you in your tracks but it’s pretty nice. It seats six, it’s comfortable and it’s conducive to family conversation. My mother always told me it reminded her of a table that one of my uncles built and gave to another one of my uncles as a wedding gift about thirty-five years ago. My mother always thought that a kitchen table, hand-crafted, was a beautiful wedding gift. When my uncle and aunt got divorced, the uncle who was the recipient of the table gave it back to his brother and it’s still in the kitchen of his cottage today.
But I really think my mom loved eating at my kitchen table because when she grew up, where she grew up, there were no dining rooms. You ate at the kitchen table and that’s where you spent the most meaningful time with your family. I think that for my mother, eating at her adult son’s kitchen table, in a comfortable and comforting environment, it was like going home.
It’s funny how these things return to us. Out of the blue. Spraying Windex, rubbing paper towels, and all of a sudden, my mother is in the room with me. I didn’t cry. I was close. But I understand ghosts. They are in our minds. Our memories are ghost hunters. The good ghosts. The ones we want. The ones we sometimes need.