Who Will Fill The Empty Seats At Your Table?
Some people write about the best recipes for cooking a cat not because it makes for good linkbait but because they are lost in memories of the place where they found and lost their innocence and confidences.
When they think about the ghost you cannot see they wonder what happens when the house you grew up in, the one that has been the rock and the anchor of your family for five decades is prepared to be sold someone outside of the family.
Ma and Pa Steiner met with a realtor and are actively pursuing this move to sell
my their house and I feel a bit like I got punched in the gut.
It is uncomfortable for a host of reasons not the least of which is I feel a bit foolish for being upset by this. It is four walls and a roof, nothing more than drywall and paint.
Ask my children and they’ll tell you I have told them many times that the people you are with make a house into a home.
People are what power moments and help us turn the ordinary into the extraordinary but no matter how many times I say these words in silence I am still unsettled by it.
It is four years since my last grandparent moved on to whatever comes next. There is An Empty Place At The Table that will never be filled in the same way because they are gone and all I have are the moments that we shared.
The baton has been passed and all of the generations have moved to the next step. It is part of the proverbial cycle of life and perfectly natural but it still feels a bit strange to me to realize that I am not the kid anymore.
I remember my grandparents telling me stories about their grandparents but I don’t think I really understood or appreciated what it was they were sharing.
I do now, but I didn’t then.
You can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.
Who Will Fill The Empty Seats At Your Table?
When I was born all of my grandparents had sold their homes and moved into apartments so I haven’t any memories from grandpa or grandma’s ‘house.’
It is different for my children. Don’t know that it is better or worse, just different.
They are no happier than I am about the coming sale and keep trying to come up with ways for me to or my siblings to buy the house.
But even though I am torn about the move I am grateful for all of the good memories that are tied up in it. Grateful for the gift of gratitude and eager to continue trying to help my children understand this is not something to be insouciant about.
We have more than many and that is invaluable.
My children don’t ask who will fill the empty seats at the table because their primary memories of family meals are punctuated by two sets of grandparents and a smattering of great-grandparents.
Sometimes it makes me sad they didn’t get to know them better, but then again they got to know some of them and that is more than many.
And now for a musical interlude:
All My Life Is a Circle
Midnight approaches on a week night and I am back at the computer pointing-and-clicking my way through cyberspace.
Got a pair of Bose headphones that I purchased because they were supposed to provide great sound and noise reduction but I am not convinced they are as good as advertised.
Thinking about the house and all of the work that is required to get it into shape to move.
The last time Ma & Pa moved was when they were twenty-somethings who hadn’t finished having children.
I tell them they need to give themselves more time to work on this because when you are in your seventies you can’t expect to have the same energy as when you were younger.
They tell me not to worry and mom says “I had four kids by 30 and I didn’t have a nanny. You have no idea how much energy you had. My friends used to look at you and ask if you ever stopped moving.”
I smile at mom and keep silent. There is no reason to belabor the point, they know how old they are and they know this will be harder than they think.
And then a fragment from the past floats to the surface and I hear my parents talking to each other about how much work is involved in moving my grandparents.
That must be around 20 years or so ago and now instead of them worrying about my grandparents I am worrying about my kids grandparents.
Where I Became A Writer/The Problem With Bloggers
It is Spring of ’74 and mom is pregnant with my baby sisters. She tells me there are two babies inside her and says I can help come up with names.
I tell her I don’t want any help from my middle sister because I am a big boy who can come up with good names. She tells me that I need to be a good big brother to my sister and to the babies, even if they aren’t the little brothers I want.
“Go tell your sister a story.”
It is not an uncommon request and it wasn’t unusual for me to do so.
In many ways my house is where I first became a writer and a person who loved to tell stories. But back then I never second guessed myself or worried about whether my tales were good enough to be told.
I shared them with whomever would listen and moved on.
There was no concern about whether it was good enough to get some recognition. No concern about whether it was good enough to promote or conversation about how to get hooked up with more deals.
It was just my stories and I.
Sometimes I need to remind myself about those days. You don’t become a better writer by promoting your work to everyone who will read or listen.
You become a better writer by writing.
I am going to miss my house.