Mother and Son Haven’t Seen or Spoken to Each Other in Almost 6 Months; One of His First Questions to Her May Surprise You. Family Dinner – It Matters.
Eight months ago, a tearful mother dropped her son at the curb and hugged him goodbye. As hard as it was, and knowing it was right, she said goodbye to him. She thought of him every day. She wondered where exactly he was and what he was doing. She prayed for his health and safety and for him to know how much she loved him. She waited anxiously for some news from him, and occasionally it would come. Often it was only a few lines, but enough to assure her that he was well and safe. She waited eagerly for the day she might finally get to see his face and hear his voice. She had a million questions for him and could only imagine the things he might want to ask her.
A few days ago, her chance came! The son had sent a note saying he would be able to talk via Skype on Mother’s Day. Though Mother’s Day was filled with wonderful surprises from other family members, the day seemed to drag on as the Mother waited for the Skype call. The entire family gathered, all excited to see him. At last the call came, and there was a flurry of excitement. The boy’s father answered. The mother watched anxiously as the call connected and the face of the boy, her boy, appeared on the computer screen. “Hello, Mom,” said the voice she recognized. “Happy Mother’s Day!”
“Oh, you look so good! It is so good to see your face,” cried the mother. For a few minutes the family made small talk, not really sure what to say but all thoroughly enjoying the moment. The boy was enjoying it too. When there was a brief lull in the conversation her son asked a question that surprised her. “Are you guys still having family dinner? Please tell me you still get together for family dinner!” All were eager to report that they were. A huge smile crossed the boys face. “Good. That makes me so happy!”
Conversation continued about this and that until it was time for the boy to go. Hesitantly, everyone said their goodbyes and left the mother to say her farewells last. With a quiver in her voice, and fighting tears, the mother told her son how much she loved him and how proud she was of him. He returned the sentiment, and the call was ended. For some time afterward the mother recalled the face of her son and the sound of his voice. Eventually they faded. She tried to replay parts of their conversation. Of the things she could remember, one thing kept playing in her mind. “Are you guys still having family dinner?“ Family dinner had always been important to the mother and she was grateful to see that it had been important to her son. It brought him joy to know that his family was getting together to share a meal as they always had. She assumed that for him it meant things were well at home.
You might have guessed that this is my story. Our youngest son is currently serving a full-time mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for two full years.
We did indeed drop him at the curb, in front of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. There was time for a quick hug and that was it. (We had spent the whole morning saying our goodbyes.)
Now we get a weekly email and he is allowed a Skype call on Mother’s Day and Christmas. He was already gone when we started the Kitchola project, and we’ve not said much to him about it so he can focus on his own work right now. When he asked about family dinner, it had nothing to do with Kitchola and everything to do with his own fond memories and the comfort having family dinner had brought him. To think that of all the things he could have asked us about – his friends, his stuff, things he missed or wondered about – family dinner was the thing he wanted to know was still happening. Of all the things that might have brought him joy and reassurance, it was that the family was still gathering around the table for family dinner. It warms my heart and makes me even more convinced that what we, our family and yours, are doing to reclaim family dinnertime is important!
Knowing it will be a long time before I get to speak with him “face-to-face” again, I’ve promised myself that in the meantime I will continue having the family over for dinner. The next time we speak with him, we will be able to report that we are still having family dinner. He will be assured that all is well at home.
So I guess that means you will keep hearing from me! I hope to hear from you as well. Please share your time tips, recipes and experiences for the benefit of all.