As an interior designer for most of my life, I was invited into many residences over the years. I would advise clients how to turn their houses into homes. I found that whether it was a bungalow or a mansion, the most important piece of furniture was always the dinner table, or “supper table” as we called it when I was young.
I was sitting in my kitchen the other day and I realized my own supper table needed a makeover. My husband and I spent the weekend sanding, painting, creating a new look for our eating area. It turned out beautifully and we were giving each other high fives.
He returned to watch the ball game as I put the final wax on the tabletop. I looked at the old hutch that resides next to the table. On its top shelf was my grandmother’s tea pitcher next to a vase my mother loved.
On the second shelf resides a crazy fish my son made in school many years ago, along with a picture of my father as a young man holding a large bass he just caught. The bottom shelf holds my father’s 100-year-old creel trimmed in rich, brown leather. Plates are scattered in between pictures and mementos.
I sat down in one of the chairs and stared at my old “new” table and the hutch holding its treasury of yesterday. My mind raced back to when my children were small.
When they were growing up I implemented one of my smartest “Mom rules.” “No TV or phone calls allowed during meals” unless something very special was on. I would encourage all new parents to adopt this rule. The reward is priceless.
My children are all grown and gone now, but there was a time when all of life happened around that table. Where books were thrown at the end of a school day. Where homework would eventually get finished. Where little kids wrinkled their noses at anything green, and everything required ketchup.
I still can see my middle daughter, Heather, dragging herself to the table as a school child in the morning. Her big eyes, half open and her head eventually falling down on top of the plate. My son, Corey, two years younger, laughing at her while my oldest daughter, Amy, rolled her eyes.
As they grew, our table was always filled with someone else’s children. They would invite friends over constantly. I remember once when my son was beginning high school, I looked up and didn’t recognize the face across from me.
“Hello,” I said, “and who are you?” Corey interrupted, “Oh, Mom, this is Ray! He heard you were a great cook so I asked him over!”
Those kids knew they could win me with a compliment like that. So, we clasped our hands and we blessed our food. We laughed, we ate, we talked about what was up among the group while our dog made the rounds under each foot begging for food. A typical evening in our home. Chaotic, wonderful, and usually hilarious.
Ray was killed a few years later in the Value Jet crash over the Florida everglades coming home from a mission trip. I am glad he visited our table. I am thankful all those kids that came over to share a meal, felt at home, and called me, “Miss Lynn.”
Many hard talks have been had around the supper table. Many tears have been shed on it’s top. Many heartaches worked out, many chapters turned, much laughter shared. There have been numerous prayers prayed while clasping the hands of those that will never return. But, I am so thankful that I got to hold their hand.
The hand of my grandmother that poured the tea, the hand of the father who caught the big bass and the hand of the mother who put flowers in the pretty vase.
Every home I entered in my career I would watch how people gathered around the table. It was all the same. It seems that those who took the time to gather around this workhorse had the closest of relationships. No TV or phone to distract this precious time to communicate, to love, to forge and seal a memory to be shared in later years.
All of my children came home at Christmas. A few weeks ago there were 20 family members gathered to eat supper. It was so loud, and laughter so boisterous I thought that table was going to move right out the door! Then they were gone. Silence and empty chairs were all that remained.
At first I was sad until I looked above the old hutch and there on the wall was a piece of art. My mother bought it one day in an antique store for 50 cents. It is a small etching in wood of a man sitting at a dinner table with 12 of his followers to share His last supper.
After studying His face, His hands outstretched, His disciples listening intently, I was no longer sad. I knew He had blessed our family with precious times around our own table.
Whether your supper table is of fine wood or a card table with a cloth, it is the most priceless piece of furniture you will ever own.
Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.