Every Day Dishes
It’s a regular occurrence, our Tuesday night suppers.
Every Tuesday night at 6 pm, there is always a meal ready at my parents house
We’ve been doing this for almost five years now.
Weekly gatherings for a slice of domino’s carry out and my mama’s famous salads.
Oh and there’s always some kind of cold coke in my dad’s outdoor cooler. One that often turns to a big tub of water with floating drinks, reminding you of your 4th of july family reunion, only in January, those cokes are so cold that the fizzy drink burns so good.
It’s been different in 2018.
My sister and her husband (who was the originator of Tuesday night suppers) moved to a new city and we all had to readjust to the shift of new sounds in a space where there was once baby squeals and a perfect type of chaos. One that I missed so deep that some days I felt so sick with sadness that that season had passed before us before I had a chance to recognize its weight.
We kept going though, eating supper together and engaging.
Trudging through the shift and change.
Talking through the moments that felt all too quiet and purposing ourselves to keep it going.
One week I showed up and my mom said “Jerry is coming to supper tonight.”
An elder at our church, a life long friend to my grandparents ( Ed + Jean, who are now with Jesus), and a widower. His wife taught me more lessons in Sunday school than I can count and went to glory just a few months before.
I’ve never known life without Mr. Jerry.
And although I had never known life without him, I am not sure I actually knew him all that well.
I knew him as a leader, a biblical scholar, a bit of a jokester, and friend to my grandparents.
But weeks have gone by now, and Mr. Jerry is a regular at our Tuesday gatherings.
He now shows up weekly with a new ice cream flavor or Publix bakery treat that we swear we don't have room for, but always manage a full plate of post supper.
With black coffee of course.
He’s become a regular.
Asking what time, what he can bring, and even bringing friends.
We expect him now and find it shocking when he can’t come.
We normally order dominos carry out and my mom tries a new topping combination weekly.
Paper plates are a necessity because my mom refuses to wash dishes after working all day and I don't blame her one ounce.
It’s simple, uncomplicated.
It’s pizza and paper plates and a salad because my mother will not let us engage with pizza without greens.
Mr. Jerry always says that Tuesday nights are better when she is there and I think it’s because of her salads.
A few weeks ago, I went to Tuesday night supper reluctant and way more tender hearted than normal.
Work had been long, the end stretch of my pregnancy left me uncomfortable and hormonally a bit off balance.
But I went, tired and teary eyed.
Because it was Tuesday and this was a means of eating, people.
That same night, Mr. Jerry brought a friend. A Russian missionary our church supports. Every year when he comes to see us, Jerry is always his host, and on this particular Tuesday, he brought him.
Mr. Jerry brought a bakery treat, a cake sectioned in multiple flavors, with vanilla ice cream.
So my mom whipped out the crock pot of pot roast, rice, green beans, and rolls.
She got fancy.
And let us use real dishes.
The ones she calls her “everyday dishes”.
They are hand-me-downs from my grandparents.
A floral print pattern, a few chips on the edges.
When my mom inherited them after their passing, we replaced the dishes she had with theirs.
We prayed and formed a line to start making our plates.
Mr. Jerry, second behind our missionary guest, picked up a plate.
Holding his plate, he just stood there staring at it.
After a brief moment he looked up at my mom, “These were Jean’s plates.”
(Jean, my grandmother and a dear friend.)
My mom smiled, “oh yeah, I ended up with these after daddy died.”
Jerry smiled, “I have eaten many a meal on these dishes.”
Thankfully my mom quickly replied, “I love that you remember that Jerry.” And moved on in the food line.
Meanwhile, I stood choking back tears with my Dad in tow on the weep train as well.
I realized standing there that he joins us weekly, children and grandchildren of some of his best friends.
Friends that he once communed with and remembers them only in memory.
But those dishes, they held a brief reminder of how powerful a life in communion with others truly is.
A life when you look at the same plates and never think twice of their value until meals are no longer held on them.
But the moment returned, a new communion of friends and family together.
On Tuesday nights when life feels too hard to show up, but you just show up anyways.
When a season you love slipped away so you could stumble into the next one with eyes to see someone besides yourself.
We slip into comfort with coming home from a long day to solitude because we feel like company has to have some sort of perfect art to it.
Yet, pizza on paper plates brings about a consistency that deep down we all need in our lives.
It’s not rocket science.
Shame and perfection come in like a roaring lion into our ears stopping us from inviting and engaging when our own discomfort and pain played a role in our day.
It tells us to isolate instead of invite.
It tells us to grieve instead of rejoice in a new opportunity.
I made a new friend in Mr. Jerry and his weekly visits.
A man I thought I had known my whole life, but really I feel like I’ve just been introduced to.
A man who communed with the same people I did and grieved their loss same as me.
Yet I never knew it.
He dined on their dishes and continues to as the time continues on.
Just with new voices and ears to hear the stories.
The same dishes, but different meals.
Isn't life interesting?
Handing us the choice to say yes to consistency even if it’s not perfect.
Giving us fresh perspective to try out new seasons when we miss the old ones so deep it hurts.
Handing us deeper friendship in a person we have known all along, yet never known at all.
Handing us plates, passed down from one generation and invitation to the other.
Everyday dishes for the opportunity to daily commune with each other in the best way.
I think I finally get why my mom calls them her “everyday dishes”.