By Richard Mabey Jr.
Our story so far:
It is the first day of summer vacation of 1969. I am 15 years old and have just completed my sophomore year at Boonton High School. It is nearing high noon and I have spent the entire morning painting Thorpe Hall of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, for my Eagle Scout project. After eating my lunch, a man comes to the door and begins banging on the door and demanding that I let him in. Fortunately, I had locked the door. I try to huddle out of sight of this man, who is continuing to hammer on the door and scream for someone to let him in. Shortly after that, my mom knocks on the door of Thorpe Hall. My sister, Patti, is with Mom. I clean up and we all go to Moe’s Sweet Shop. Cute Mary Tafano is at Moe’s. To my utter surprise, Mary asks me to her birthday party on Saturday. Our story continues.
It was about 3:30 in the afternoon, when we got home to the old Mabey Homestead on Mabey Lane. My sister Patti, who was 10 years old at the time, ran outside to play on the swing set with her friends from the neighborhood. I needed to talk with my mom, so I volunteered to help Mom with supper.
As Mom peeled and cut the carrots, I peeled and cut up the potatoes. I told my mom, in detail, all about what had happened with the seemingly deranged man pounding on the door of Saint Andrew’s Thorpe Hall.
I remember this moment so very well. Mom held my hand for a moment and simply said to me, “Jesus was with you. Jesus protected you from that horrible man. Richie, you must remember that. Always remember that Jesus is always with you.” Mom’s kind words brought comfort to my heart.
As I watched Mom peel and cut the carrots, as I peeled and cut the potatoes, I saw the love in my mom’s eyes. And, I then realized, perhaps for the first time in my life, that with every cut of the carrot in her hand, Mom was showing her love for her family. In this very plain and ordinary act of cutting carrots, Mom was saying “I love you” so ever soft and gently.
For this was a sacred moment. As sacred as the sacrament given in the most beautiful chapel on the planet. I looked out at the back window, from where I sat at the kitchen table. There was my sister swinging on the swing set with a little girl from the neighborhood. There was the clicking of the kitchen clock, hung up just to the left of the back kitchen window. There was the voice of my mom humming the tune of “How Great Thou Art” as she sliced and cut the stack of carrots in front of her. Yes, this was a moment in time that touched the deepest chambers of my heart.
“When your Dad comes home, you’ll have to tell him about that man who pounded on the door at Saint Andrew’s Church, while you were painting,” Mom said to me in a gentle, but firm voice.
“I will Mom, I will,” I replied.
“I’ll worry about you tomorrow, you know that, don’t you?”
“I know you will, Mom,” I replied.
“I love you Richie, I don’t want anything to happen to you. You understand?” Mom said to me, as she continued to cut up the carrots into thin pieces.
I felt a lump in my throat as I held back my tears. It was not all that often that my Mom told me that she loved me, in the days of my teen years.
“I love you too, Mom,” I said to Mom as I cut a potato into small cubes.
Sometimes, the grand and glorious moments of life are not found in the monumental ballrooms of a cousin’s wedding reception. Sometimes, the most illustrious beauty of life is not found in the brilliance of a large diamond. And, all that glitters, is not gold. Sometimes, the dearest and most cherished memories that hold fast to an old man’s heart, are the ones that took place at the plain, ordinary kitchen table of the kitchen of the old farmhouse wherein that old man grew up in.
Love one another. Cherish the people you love. Tell them that you love them. There is nowhere to be found, a written guarantee that they will be with us tomorrow.
To be continued.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.