The Last Time …

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, January 18, 2017

Have you ever had a sense that an upcoming event would take on enormous significance? That day would be the very best, and perhaps life would not be quite the same in the future.

One year, we had of those holidays which was sweet and joyful, filled with laughter and good talk, wonderful food and drink. As usual our Mom and sister Aunt Rose and Grandma had spent the days before preparing the food, and the house, polishing the silver, ironing the white linen table cloth. It was like a glossy magazine cover. We kids dressed up as if for a special church holyday. The girls looked at each other – new dresses and patent leather shoes. The two boys, who were in their early teens, wore neckties, not the clip-ons. Even the aprons worn by the chefs were special, replacing their work aprons with white cotton and ruffles and blue and red piping.

Our instincts were correct. Before the following November, Grandpa was dead, and our dear cousin Andy was taken by cancer. And really, nothing was ever the same again. Never. We gathered at Thanksgiving and other holiday – I suppose some families would have skipped the feast. I believe we kept the feast because to surrender it might tarnish the memories.

Quite a few years later, I believe in the 1990’s, we had another Thanksgiving feast, at the same location, with some of the same people attending, but it was so different. My two brothers-in-law were present and most of the rest of us. Mom was ill, and stayed at home. Dad popped in, took a plate of food to her. My sisters were there, aunt and cousin.

There was a condition attached to this invitation. Dinner would start at noon. Dinner would end at about 6PM. We could get up, move around between courses, but the feast, which took a good week to prepare was not to be gobbled. (We brought no gobblers.) What a lovely, warm, joyous gathering! Looking around at the faces of our dear ones, I had to blink a few times to put-together this two part invention.

It was another very special day. The changes to each of us, the hard times we had weathered, and the achievements gained, moved into the background as we were totally awake, present to one another.  I have written earlier and repeat here, that in our family, it was expected that there would be no arguments, no raising of voices, except in laughter.

And that is probably the heart of those memories.

clipart from panda.com

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