Thursday, November 27, 2014


Taking the time to remember on this quiet Thanksgiving morning.



Looking back, the room that appeared so large to my young eyes was probably 10-12 feet wide and maybe 14 feet in length.  Entering the house from the back door, no one ever used the front door; you passed through a small combination mudroom-laundry to reach the kitchen.  On the right was a small phone desk followed by the kitchen table.  On the left was an entrance to the dining room, the refrigerator, and the beginning of the cabinets, which wrapped around the far end of the room, interrupted by the sink, and ending with the stove against the wall on the right.  The table could seat 6 people comfortably, and 8-10 intimately.

The dining room was used for large gatherings on holidays and other festive occasions, but all other meals and entertaining took place in the kitchen.  I cannot remember guests being entertained in the living room… ever.  We listened to the large freestanding radio there, before a TV replaced it in 1948.  I remember lying on the floor in front of the radio, listening to the Lone Ranger at 7:30 on Thursday evenings.  At the end of each day, after shedding his coveralls and boots, my father would sit in the living room reading the evening paper until my mother called him for diner, at least 2-3 times before he would come.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the many epic battles I fought with the bad guys, either flying off the sofa as superman (dish towel tightly secured around my neck) or as Roy Rogers, taking on the crooks behind the large Maple chair.

But it was the kitchen where our lives happened, where we shared 3 meals every day, often with assorted family and friends, where the working day started and ended, where farm business was conducted, homework completed, and phone calls made and answered.  Company rarely made it past the kitchen.  Coffee was offered within the first few minutes, often even before coats and hats were removed, and everyone settled in around the table.  Some how there was always enough room.  The stream of visitors included nearby aunts and uncles, neighbors, friends, out of town relatives, and my friends and classmates.

My parents, Jo and Duke to some, aunt Jo and uncle Duke to others, and on rare occasions, Mr. and Mrs. Renzulli, had a very special gift; they made everyone feel loved and welcomed.  First time visitors ceased being strangers within minutes, and by the time they left they were family.  It didn’t matter who it was; there were no pretenses and no apologies.  Everyone was treated the same.  Their warmth and hospitality were genuine. Graciousness, generosity, and goodness were woven into the fabric of their character. That was what they were, and guests received more than food and wine when they sat at our kitchen table.

Thinking about all of this now, I’ve come to realize that despite their limited education and sophistication, they each possessed a deep sense of self confidence in who they were, giving them a mantel of humble nobility.  In the first eighteen years of my life I experienced their love and generosity, their commitment to family, their kindness to others, their willingness to share and to forgive, and their gentle outlook on life; I witnessed it all in our kitchen, around the kitchen table, drinking coffee, sipping wine, or sharing a meal.

My parents were not religious.  My mother never spoke about matters of faith, and my father would not hesitate to tell you he was an atheist.  I think he was really more anti-cleric than anti God, and simply had no use for the church.  But in the life they lived, grounded in love and caring for everyone, I saw the nobility of the human spirit, and if there is a God, He was in our kitchen.

L to P  Walter, aunt Edith, aunt Mary, Marx, uncle Fatty, mom, all have died except Marx

1 comment:

Mancklin said...

Written with love. We hold our beloved parents in our hearts. The most marvelous is when they appear in a dream, as if real; and sharing their wonderful qualities is another way of cherishing them.