A cousin of mine passed away yesterday. After helping to make calls and send emails to notify other family members of her death, I could not help but think about how it sometimes seems that there are more of my family members in heaven than here on earth anymore.
Yesterday was a time to remember them. Grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts, uncles and cousins who have slipped beyond the veil. Each one a totally unique human treasure. Now, I am not saying that we all got along, were always pillars of the community or had perfect reputations, but come heaven, hell or high water they were my people.
I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to know several generations of family very well. When I think of the times we were all together, whether it was for a baptism, birthday, confirmation, graduation, wedding, holiday or funeral, it seems that the doings were held in the dining room of my Uncle Myrwin’s home around the great round oak table.
That table by now must be well over a hundred years old. I believe that, that old table has twelve leaves and can seat over twenty people. It has stood the test of time far better that some of the folks who gathered around it to feed body and soul.
I can clearly remember all the shining happy faces on Christmas Eve as we all sat down together for a traditional Lutefisk dinner. Or, the hungry faces of the farm folk when they came in starved from the fields and barn for their noon and evening meals. The first and last time I ever ate a bear roast was at that table. I wish, I could say the same about the Lutefisk.
There were times when that big strong husky dark table would be covered in a dainty lace or hand-embroidered tablecloth and perfectly set with gleaming china to host the neighborhood ladies club luncheon, a women’s bible study, quilting bee or any other special occasion when the women were in charge and manners and social graces were required. A silver coffee pot, creamer and sugar on a large tray meant to impress provided the ladies with smooth real Swedish egg coffee.
When sad times came to the farm, that table provided support for the elbows of the grieving. It was there when baby Ruth Marie died; boys went off to war and two did not return; and when other beloved children in our family went to be in the arms of Jesus Christ. It was there when a parent suddenly died. During those times our family gathered around that table. It supported us, as we supported each other.
That table held the oatmeal mush my grandparents and their children ate three times a day during 1930’s great drought and depression when they almost lost the farm and had nothing to feed their remaining livestock except the thistles that grew in the slough down beyond the cow pasture. It was there as they listened to the radio announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt’s fireside chats. It was there the day they received the telegram that my uncle Wendall had been killed in action in Korea and when grandpa had his bad heart attack.
Yes, that table was even there the day that toddler Pat decided to kill a fly on the window next to it with a baseball bat. As big as that table was, hiding under its wide wings was no sanctuary to escape justice.
Looking at that table is seeing family. All together again sharing the grace of God, good food and all of the joys and sorrows life can offer.
I hope that all of you have memories of just such a table. May your children and children’s children have just such a table in their lives.
Moral of Story: Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.