Grandpa Roger sits on the couch listening as the sounds of our family fill our home. Laughter from the boys, giggling from my girls — happy sounds bouncing from wall to wall. He looks content. Peaceful. Happy to be here.
I’m scurrying around the kitchen desperately trying to get the last bits of dinner ready. The grill is smoking — I’m sure I burnt something — and the potatoes are ready to be mashed and mixed with bits of dill, butter, and salt. I need to get the plates, and find some cups, and put ice in the big bowl. And Samuel is pulling at my legs. Too much to do, and as the saying goes, too little time.
Grandma Penny and Elijah are nestled together reading a book about Mater from Cars. Elijah thinks it is so silly when Grandma talks in her low voice for Mater. His little feet wiggle with excitement, and his head rests ever so slightly on Grandma’s arm. It’s a beautiful sight — generations together.
I’m sure it’s burnt. I can’t even find my shoes to get onto the deck to grab the meat. Then I see Brennan swinging away, without a coat, in the snow and my slip-on shoes resting on the wet, slushy ground. My only option is to try to scurry and find shoes, get Brennan to come quickly back with mine, or walk with socks onto a March-thawing covered deck of snow. The grill wins. I see the smoke now.
Afternoon light trickles through the floral curtains illuminating the new daffodils I picked up at Trader Joe’s today. Daffodils for $1.69 a bunch. Worth every cent for the breath of spring they bring into my home. Caleb runs over and takes a big sniff — and I see him dreaming of spring — of running outside and parks and green. He’s just content to be. In the moment. Sitting at the table with yellow opening daffodils and the prospect of dinner coming.
Well, it’s done. I’ve scraped off the burnt part, mashed the potatoes, and pulled out the thinly sliced marinated cucumber salad that I made earlier. I start calling for everyone to come and eat. As their plates begin to weigh down with dinner I turn and start to clean. Scraping remnants of meat off the pan, scrubbing dishes, loading bowls, wiping the stove — working. Away from family.
The conversations bounce around the table. “Grandpa, did you see?” and “Grandma, did you hear?” and “Aunt Lolly, will you play with us?” Faces smeared with barbeque sauce look eagerly at those they love, their guests, unaware that they even have remnants of dinner on their cheeks. They’re just being. Laughing. Enjoying.
I stop. I put the scrubber down. I don’t care that the food might stick. I grab the last plate, my plate, off of the island and start to dish up the food that I prepared. My plate gets heavy with blessed goodness. Slowly I walk through the afternoon sun streaming in the window and sit down next to my yellow daffodils, inbetween Chloe and Gracie. I sit. And listen. And laugh. And look at my family gathered around. And become grateful for this moment, this sacred time of being a family. Of togetherness.
We scrawl pictures on our papers and pass them around to each other eager to see what the next person would write. The boys are outside running through the snow piles, and Samuel and Elijah are once again resting on the couch between Daddy and Grandpa. I turn to write my caption. As my pen scratches words on the paper I pause and look around. I don’t see work today. I see family. And love. And my heart is grateful. Grateful that I chose to rest and laugh. And just be.