The Parting


THE TABLE is too big now. I remember my mother’s words when we purchased it all those years ago – 33, to be exact:

“Who are you planning on feeding, the Kennedy’s?”

At the time, we had a big eat-in kitchen and a small table. We were a growing family (#3 was on the way) with a growing circle of friends who loved to gather at each other’s homes. We needed a table that sat more than four.

“If the Kennedy’s wish to come, they are more than welcome,” I said.

Ma shook her head. Daddy warned me, “With a table that size, your house will turn into family headquarters.” He didn’t want me burdened in that way.

It was the largest expenditure of our married life, excluding cars and the house.

But I had a vision.
Vision … but little experience.
Vision … with a hitch. It included breaking out of my shell, daring to invite people.
Vision … but no clue the number of times we’d move household – FIVE! NJ to PA to OH (2 different homes there) to KY. And we aren’t even military or Methodist ministers.

“There’s no room in my address book for any more changes!” someone protested two moves ago.

The table went right along with us.

There have been a lot of faces and a lot of mismatched chairs, pulled up, drawn into the circle.

* * *

NOW, just the two of us and a dog, we have a small kitchen. And the big table? It’s too big.
It’s not cozy.
It’s not attractive.
It’s not a magnet for socializing.

What it is is a catch-all and a launch pad for the dog. He goes from chair to table and, from there, to whichever countertop appeals to him most (only when we’re not home – otherwise, he has company manners).

For the 8 months we’ve been here, I have justified keeping it with plans to invite this one, that one and the entire Sunday School class, our support group, my ESL coworkers, the neighborhood and anyone else I can grab off the streets.

I can do all those things without this table.

* * *

A NEW KITCHEN FLOOR is being installed today. Even as I type this, a polite young man is sawing and piecing the wood in place.

A few nights ago I said, “We need to move that table out of the kitchen so the new floor can be laid, and when we do, I have a feeling I won’t want it back in there.”

It felt a little like pulling a plug. On what exactly? I don’t know.

Last night we moved it. Not out the door, but just one room over to the far end of the family room. I need to call someone to pick it up, but not yet. I’m going to let it sit there a bit. I’m going to think about it.

I’m going to think about
all the youth group kids over the years,
the family gatherings in different houses,
Gram and Pop, now gone.
I think of my folks, too, though they rarely sat.
I think about the children that hid under it, the cousins, giggling, thinking nobody knew they were there.
I think about college decisions made at it, engagements announced, phone calls taken……

There’s the imprint of the crossword puzzle Pop did without anything underneath the page to protect the veneer. I’d rather have the impression made by his hand than a perfect anything.

AND and and…….I see the spot where the icing from the gingerbread house we 4 girls made together one Christmas left a haze on the finish that I never was able to remove. We’re down to 3 girls now. Can I let go of that haze? Is it the haze I’m having the problem with?

Everyone in the family’s been asked.
Nobody wants it.
Nobody has room, and they don’t foresee having room in the future, or else I’d hold onto it for them.
Nobody needs to feel guilty about this.

I need to make room for the life I am living now, I keep telling myself.

Someone at Goodwill is going to see this table and capture a vision. Maybe someone expecting #3, someone with a group of friends who like to gather. OR perhaps an artist needing space to spread things out.

It has a future.
So do I.
But part of carving out a life is letting go of what isn’t needed and making space for what is.

Hey, Ma! The Kennedy’s never came, but a lot of other super people did!



About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in clutter, letting go. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Parting

  1. Sharon O says:

    so sad. but you must do what needs to be done. i have my grandma’s table and someday I will remove the big one, and use hers. looking forward to the little round ‘wooden’ one we ate lunch on at grandma’s.


  2. pastordt says:

    I love this so much! And I can completely relate. I am beginning the sifting process that will last the next month or two, before we move. I had my grandson go through all 45 or 50 of my photo albums and completely dismantle them. As I put the now cannibalized albums into the recycle bin , I said wow, that was a lot of years, a lot of work, a lot of fun. I’m grateful to be divested of them and I’m also sorry. Much love to you, Marilyn.


  3. sarahfarish says:

    There’s so much in this. I’m not even sure what to say except thank you. Partings can be so hard, but necessary.


  4. Belinda says:

    I love the table with all its memories. I so understand how you need to slowly let go, to process the parting! 🙂


  5. peggy says:

    I have my grandmother’s table. Its huge! Wide. My family of eight used it every night and often there were two or three extra children at the table. The finish is shot and the chairs are rubbed raw from hitting against the legs. But I can’t ever imagine ever letting go. I am fortunate though that it breaks down into a 60in circle just big enough for four. I understand!


  6. elizabethfstewart says:

    We bought a huge table too, back when future grandchildren were a dream. Our table is full when we have family gatherings, but otherwise, much too big for the two of us. But, like your table, it’s full of memories.


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