Wednesday, May 23, 2012

At Grandma's Table

At Real Toads Ella set us a cruel task, for those of us trying to shed some winter pounds. We are to write about food. The hardest part is reading all of the offerings, each one  accompanied by photos of the most delicious edibles. I had to make myself a cup of chocolate chai tea in the middle of it, (not nearly as good as Karen's, without chocolate shavings) since I dont have peaches to make Teresa's peach cake. Well, I digress. (I am starting to resemble my golden retriever more all the time!)

At Grandma's, the aunts 
and granddaughters
would set the table just so.
Grandpa always "played checkers"
with the salt and pepper shakers,
and the condiments.
They thought if they could get it perfect
just one time
maybe he wouldnt find anything
that needed to be improved.

He would sit down,
the women all holding their breath,
survey the table grumpily,
then thump a salt shaker 
two inches to the right,
just on general principles,
as the women dissolved in giggles.

When the family gathered,
the men always joked
"Ma's frying pan never gets cold".
Pancakes as big around as the pan
with butter and brown sugar,
strawberry shortcake on Grandma's
fluffy homemade biscuits,
served to the men in serving bowls,
the demure dessert dishes 
deemed too dainty
for the men's hearty appetites.

Breakfast, lunchtime, dinner,
we'd all gather round.
The fare was simple, hearty,
inexpensive, nourishing
and, best of all was the laughter
around the table.
Grandma's hearty laugh
was always loudest of all,
and it had a surprised air,
her eyes big and round,
as if she hadnt been expecting it.

Grandkids grew sunburned 
and long-legged
around that table
summer after summer,
as the watermelon dripped 
down our chins
and the scent of sweet peas 
wafted on the evening breeze.

The youngest would sometimes
be taken for an evening drive,
to encourage them towards sleep,
Grandpa intoning from the front seat
that all the chickens on all the farms 
had gone to bed,
a small grandson's surprised
"Dont they stay up to watch the Flintstones?"
sparking the adults' indulgent laughter.

"Clean up your plate,"
the small ones were admonished.
"There are children starving  
in China, right now, you know."
The same little boy :
"Well, why doesnt somebody 
feed dem, den?"

The tradition of big meals,
family gathered around
went down the line
from my grandma,
to my mom,
to me.
And now my sister
cooks the meals.
So many faces missing
around the table,
from those good old days,
so many new ones growing tall and lanky,
fumbling to find their way,
always the food,
always the laughter,
and I watch the round blue eyes
moving down the generations,
and know why my Grandpa
always got choked up
when all the family gathered
round the table.


  1. Sherry, a touching offering for the prompt. So many happy memories - I loved the Flintstones and the wisecrack from one kid about children in China! So real. And then, the final lines of loss and longing. A family is often defined by the table that is set and who gathers there, how they act. This was superb. Love, Amy

  2. What a lovely read again Sherry. We've long since forgotten that sitting around a table was the time for bonding. Talking, sharing and yes, laughing. This all sounds so lovely. What a wonderful walk down your memory lane :)

  3. Beautiful memories Sherry, and now you are all making them for the this generation.

  4. Sherry, I so enjoyed reading your poem. I felt like I was there at that table~ Such intimacy, love and laughter. My grandfather use to be the one that would get sentimental around the table. Fun to read your family history! I loved your imagery, so vivid I now want watermelon drool and the crave the scent of Sweet peas ;D
    Loved it!!!

  5. Like Ella, I want to smell sweet peas. I remember family dinners with both of my grandmothers, one very casual, the other where we learned table manners, but both were eagerly anticipated by us.

  6. Our post fried chicken dinners ended with my grandfather piling us into the back of his red pick-up truck for rides along the river. Fun times, great memories.

  7. So very very very good..this touched my heart deeply!

  8. Lovely memories. I was the only child at home (my brother is 13 years older) of an only child father who was 40 when I was born, and a deceased mother. I longed for those big family meals, for the grandparents I never had. I think's why we have big family feasts now, with a growing family crowded around my groaning dining room table.

    Oh, and we are obviously contemporaries, you and I. It was China for me too.

  9. Sherry, I choked up too, at your wonderful reminder of how it was when I was young, and still is sometimes now I'm old.

  10. Oh, Sherry!! I love the way you describe your grandmother's laughter!!! Such a joy, thank you!!

  11. I love all your memories. I never really knew my grandmothers. Once died before I was born. The other died when I was 8.

    Here is my offering..certainly not as sweet as your memories.

  12. This felt like reliving a moment at my Gram's house, which is exactly where this prompt led me!


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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!