As the sun moves toward the horizon, seven people sit around a table on my son Anthony’s stone patio—two women, four men, and one white haired crone. Two of the men are my sons, but I haven’t been with both of them at the same time since December.
That afternoon, David and I buy food for a feast for Anthony’s friends visiting from the west coast and snacks for a Saturday night music campout. David doesn’t mind doing the shopping on his own, but I want to spend time with him in the quiet of his car.
My new family role is watching my sons and their friends create and cook in their own style. Although I made a great blueberry cobbler last week, I’m rarely the one organizing food and cooking these days which is OK with me. I contribute by paying for groceries at the health food coop.
When David and I arrive at Anthony’s place, Shawn is making a pot of the world’s most delicious corn soup with homemade croutons. Last night Anthony’s friend Steph met Shawn and Kelly at the Rochester airport and drove them to Anthony’s place. Anthony’s friend Tony has been on a writing retreat for a month at Anthony’s small second cabin, so I already know him. While Shawn creates an unforgettable corn soup and fills Anthony’s house with fragrant steam, Tony makes salad and grills salmon.
Steph gives me butterfly tattoos for the next night’s musical gathering, just for the fun of it. It’s joyful to be with my sons and their friends despite my damaged hearing.
I miss much of what’s being said around the dinner table. Everyone talks fast and laughs, as I used to do. I miss the jokes, but they aren’t essential. I hear their laughter and eat delicious food for the joy and pleasure of being together. If I need to hear something like “the grill’s on fire,” they’ll make sure I know.
As we drop croutons in our soup and begin sipping, everyone grows quiet. I give up trying to hear what everyone is saying and enjoy the compliments for the cooks and constant jiving. I feel a nourishing sense of belonging. After the sun sets over Anthony’s pond, we look for fireflies but it’s late in the season, so we only see a few.
Vic would have loved this gathering, joking with our sons and their friends and sharing good food, Anthony’s beautiful gardens, and the friendly community. Even though Vic’s body is gone, his love is with us tonight.
Who does the cooking in your world? Both my sons are excellent cooks and gardeners. Anthony’s friend Tony gets my award for most beautiful presentation and Shawn gets the award for best corn soup ever created. For other posts about sharing meals with my family, see Brotherly Bonds. For a post about handling hearing loss and getting a cochlear implant in 2019, see Relighting the Vital Fire.