My mother quoted something to me over the phone this morning: “At table, we never grow old,” I think it goes. I am savoring this idea, thinking of birthdays and family members, extended in geography and generation. Steve’s sister had a birthday wish in April to dine at a French restaurant here in Wauwatosa. That finally was accomplished last Saturday night, but as her husband’s 50th and my 50th are coming up next week, we decided that we were also celebrating our birthdays…and then we included Steve’s so he wouldn’t feel left out, even though his is 3 months away. We spent over 3 hours at a table in the front window of the restaurant, sampling cheeses, drinking French wine, dining on lamb and pheasant and dissolving chocolate pastries on our eager tongues. We laughed a lot. We talked about philosophy and aging and Mars and mold allergies. I was welcomed into this threesome who have been best friends for 30-47 years as a 10%-er…meaning I’ve only known them for 3. But they like me! They really like me! That feels good. My mother will be hosting my siblings and niece for dinner on Sunday. My brother’s birthday is Saturday. My brother-in-law’s birthday is the following Saturday. I’m sure they will be dining for a good three hours or more, too, talking about philosophy and music and zoology and whatnot. I wish I could be there in body and tastebuds, but I will be there simply in spirit.
When a bottle is poured and glasses are raised, when family gathers in the same place year after year, when we face each other in candle light, Time in its immaterial essence becomes irrelevant as well. Am I 10, learning to sip a drink and taste its fragrance for the first time? Am I 20, listening to my beloved ask my father for my hand? Am I 30, looking at my four children settling in next to their grandparents? Am I 40, appreciating my parents through my own experience as a parent? Am I 50, holding my husband and father in a deep, inward place as I use my hands, my voice, my mind to embody all of us? I am all of these ages, and others besides, when I sit at table and nourish myself, body and soul, in this banquet of love.