The table was empty. No one sat there. There had not been a sit down dinner in years for the family of four. They all sat in the living room and watched television during their meals. The kids would want to watch cartoons whereas mom and dad longed for a night of news. Often, the kids won out.
There was never a time when the old oak table-handed down from her grandad-was used. The two never hosted holidays, nor dinner parties. It just didn’t interest them. They both had busy lives. Professional lives. Dinner was often take out or Blue Aprin. Depending on whether or not she could find time to fill out a menu.
This old table gave her memories. It was where the adults sat at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s where grandad offered grace. Hands folded, elbows on table, as old pop would pray to God. She remembered them well.
It’s also where she would eat breakfast when visiting the grandparents. Grandmother would give her a bowl of cereal which would turn into mush due to her refusal to eat it. And, at lunch, where that same soggy bowl would appear again. They’re starving in China, Grandmother said. So finish it, the little girl would cry and cry until it was taken away.
The table was also the place where Dad would place his head and fall asleep at night. Reeking of booze, the old man would lay there in a pool of drool only to be awakened by mother’s nagging.
She hated seeing her father this way. Hated it also the night he didn’t wake up. Lying dead at the table. His head turned sideways. Staring at a picture of a girl in pink.
And-as often the case-the family sat on the couches and watched television while eating Chinese food. While the table lay bare. She would hand it down to her daughter.