Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 24, 2014

Her old, wooden table

Kokomo Tribune

---- — I remember Grandma’s old, wooden table that stretched the length of her kitchen and served up feasts fit for a king.

All of us little grandkids would line up on the benches – not chairs – on either side, eagerly awaiting the meals she cooked during family gatherings.

I didn’t know until much later, though, how much that kitchen table meant to my grandma. It wasn’t even about the table itself or even the food she served there. She cherished that table because of what happened around it.

People napped there and prayed there. Farm problems were discussed and sometimes created there.

As you may remember from a previous column, my Super Grandma is a writer. And she loved her kitchen table enough to write a tribute to it in one of her books.

It was a collection of kitchen table stories. Some made me laugh, and others made me tear up just a little.

I thought I’d share pieces of this tribute with you. Let it be a reminder that there’s nothing more comforting than sitting down to a nice meal with your whole family and maybe some friends and occasionally the farm hands or fire department, too.

In the early years of my grandma’s marriage, before she had a whole litter of kids to cook for, she cooked for my grandpa’s family. His “Pop” sat at the head of the table, and his brothers, Lan, Andy and Leo joined them for lunch every day, too.

The men took up hay and put their crops out together even though they served three different farms. So for the first 10 minutes of every lunch, they hashed out farm problems together. Then, after they ate, they all shoved their plates to the center of the table, almost at the same time. They’d lay their heads down and tell my grandma to wake them up in 15 minutes.

At first, she didn’t know what to do.

“I wasn’t married very long, and here I was, 18 years old, and this was a ritual that I wasn’t used to,” she wrote. “There was no way that I would dare rattle dishes nor rattle four grown men for the next 15 minutes, and so I would join them.”

Then years passed, and the babies started to arrive. They hired farm hands to help them out with the chores. One of those hired hands was my grandpa’s nephew, Dennis.

He stayed for supper one night after a long day of work. Then the high school senior left for home on his motorcycle. He never made it there. A car didn’t stop at an intersection, and Dennis was killed.

“I always said that Dennis prayed his last prayer at my kitchen table,” my grandma wrote.

She always said that the Crucifix hanging above her table was a blessing and protection through the years. She remembered many accidents that almost happened on the farm.

There was a time the hay in the barn got hot. They had to call in the fire department and all the neighbors to help.

Soon there were men everywhere.

They would take some hay out and then it would blaze up, and the fire truck would pour more water on. They continued removing hay until nothing was left in the barn. They were able to save that old barn that was made from huge logs from the 1800s.

My grandma had just gotten home from the hospital after giving birth, but she helped the men celebrate around the table with lunch meat and lemonade.

Feeding the troops wasn’t always easy for my Super Grandma.

When they built the first silo on their farm, they had three guys staying with them for three days and nights. That meant she had to feed them three meals a day.

“That alone wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had three little boys with the hard measles, which came with high fever and crying throughout the night,” she wrote.

But she loved having people at her table. There was a bishop and missionary from India and a guy from Jasper who helped build her second silo. She ran into that man years later. He stopped her in the streets. He said he remembered that she served him beef and gravy with a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes, and it was so good.

She ended her tribute with a few simple words.

“My kitchen table indeed has been blessed many times over, not so much what was on my table, but who was sitting around the table,” she said. “May God bless your table, too!”

-Lindsey Ziliak

[friday] editor/ proud of my kitchen table