Who knew, right?
The other night, as I was wiping down our kitchen table after dinner, I experienced an odd moment of timelessness, as if a hole opened up between what is and what was and those realities existed side-by-side for a split second.
If I knew that such a feeling would be my reward for cleaning off the dinner table, I’d do it more often.
Our kitchen table used to sit in the home of my in-laws, before my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer in 2005. She bought the table when she worked for a brief stint as a general contractor, building homes for other families (if there’s one thing Mom was good at, it was homemaking). There is a golden plaque on the table to this day that states that Bob and Peggy Lupton purchased the table in 1990 from the proceeds of ‘House #4’.
So, here’s what happened the other night: I approached the table with my sponge to swab the thing down after spaghetti night, and in the quick way the mind skips from one thing to another, I thought of all the times I had volunteered to wipe down this same table when it sat in its former home, years ago. I knew Mom had applied her dishrag to the solid oak hundreds of times after meals – me, I’m kinda lazy about it.
My mind took another skip and suddenly, it was like Mom and I were in tandem, performing the same action over the same object, separated by nothing but time – and the years had shrunk to a see-through window right there next to the table. We bowed ourselves over the work of keeping our homes and worked in unison for an instant.
Then the window closed.
Anyone who has lost someone will recognize the feeling I have about this dining table. I love having a physical artifact of my mother-in-law right here, firmly in the center of my family’s daily routine – kitchen-table-as-talisman. But I also marvel – marvel – at just how the hell this table can be sitting here and Peggy Lupton is not. How is that possible?
And how is it possible that a simple household chore could pull us back together for a moment, if only in my mind?
I don’t know, but I’m grateful.