Reflections On Dining Early & Sharing Happiness

A FEW WEEKS AGO we drove four hours north to visit Zen-Den’s parents + his sister & her family.  It was his mother’s birthday, so it seemed like a good time to see what was up with his mother and his father. 

We arrived at his parents’ house around noon and spent the afternoon talking with them.  Then around 4:00 p.m. we drove with his parents to a brand new Outback Steakhouse where we met his sister, her husband and their teenage daughter.

We were seated at a long table with banquette seating on one side of the table and chairs on the other.  The room’s decor was modern with lots of muted dark colors in geometric patterns and large pendant lights with drum shades.  The look reminded me of my late aunt’s home which was filled with mid-century modern furniture.

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WE RARELY HAVE THE opportunity to get together with Z-D’s family so sitting in this beautiful restaurant, eating good food, chatting, laughing was special for us, for me.  It reminded me of when my parents were alive and I was a little girl.  The three of us would go out to dinner somewhere fancy, usually early because my dad refused to wait for a table.  And we would have the best time.

So with my happy past in mind, while sitting there at the Outback Steakhouse I took a moment to look around the table, to really see who was there.   And I was struck by the strangest thoughts, out of nowhere.  Fragments of my life, I suppose.

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I REALIZED THAT MY niece is the same age as I was when my father died.  That my SIL looks so relaxed & happy that she could be half her age. That my BIL, who is retiring this year, is exactly ten years younger than my mother was when she retired.  That my MIL, whose birthday we were celebrating, is turning the age that my mother was when she died.  That my FIL is so lost in the fog of Alzheimer’s that I doubt that I’ll ever visit with the real man again.

And as for Zen-Den and I, here is what I observed: we are much older now, both physically and spiritually.  In some ways, life has worn us out.  On the other hand, we’ve learned, adapted, moved on so many times that somewhere along the winding way we’ve both developed deeper understandings of relationships, beliefs, limitations– and the value of focusing on shared happiness.

At an Outback Steakhouse, for instance.  On an early Saturday evening.  While dawdling around a table after dinner.

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Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

24 thoughts on “Reflections On Dining Early & Sharing Happiness”

  1. So poignant – thank you for sharing such deep personal thoughts. And thank you for sharing your happiness with me for so long. I have written and erased several other sentences. I think I will just come home tonight and hug you. For about an hour. Straight. Or until one of us pulls a muscle.

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        1. Polly, you’re right. We need a like button here on WP so that we could like a comment. That’d be cool.

          [And yes, he is adorable– in a teddy bear sort of way. ;-)]

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  2. That is so beautiful. Sometimes we don’t stop to really look at each other in real time. This past summer someone in the family was diagnosed with something serious and it was a wake-up call for me. I hugged my family and really listen to who they have become. I am still doing that. I should have done that the past 30 years!

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    1. Kate, I’m sorry about your family member’s illness, but I can see how it helped you realize that the time is now. When I was younger, I only saw who I remembered a person used to be; but now I see who is in front of me & cherish it. ‘Tis a gift of age + experience.

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    1. Polly, it was an odd moment. I wasn’t thinking about much of anything– and then, all these realizations flooded into my brain.

      And I agree, Z-D and I are blessed. Goofy, but blessed.

      Merry Christmas to you, too. 🙂

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  3. Alice, you are so well written. This brought tears to my eyes of the lovely memories you had with your parents. I feel so fortunate to have known both of them, even though it was a brief time with your father. You definitely had a wonderful, witty relationship with your mother that I’m sure you cherish to this day. So glad you had this time with Zen Den’s family. 🙂

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    1. Beth, you are probably the only person our age, who I stay in touch with, that remembers both of them. Odd to think about that, isn’t it?

      Yes, the dinner with Zen-Den’s family was great. Lots of laughter, comfy seats, good food. What more is there to hope for?

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  4. I even remember YOU before you were YOU. Your parents were a very special part of my life. Lots of good memories there and even more when you were little Good Time coming soon!!

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    1. Hey there Becky! First, you send me a delightful Christmas Orange photo– and now you comment! I am thrilled to hear from you.

      And yes, you’re so right… you knew me before I was me! Funny how lives twist together, isn’t it?

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    1. philosophermouse, I agree. There is wisdom within the dawdle, that might just find you if you allow yourself to dawdle. [Or to lollygag and fritter. Those work just as well as a dawdle.]

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  5. Very beautiful and very well written! Lovely moment to cherish! I don’t have the words to describe how much my family means to me. It is why I do what I do. Happy Holidays to you and Zen-Den!

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    1. Hi Millie, thanks for the compliment [& the wine 🙂 ]. It was an odd moment that melded my present with my past. Kind of cool, but unexpected. Just made for blogging.

      Happy Holidays right back at ‘ya. Make it a good one– and try to not get stuck in an airport for hours on end. You’ve already put in your time!

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  6. Time is surreal. I don’t remember exactly when it was that I realized that I am older than the “Mom” I picture in my head. I don’t feel like I should be this old. I hope I’ve gained wisdom over the years but I’m not so sure.

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    1. Zazzy, that’s an interesting thing to be aware of. I always think of both of my parents in their later years, so I’m a ways off. Still, I bet that I could find lots of photos in which they are younger than I am now! That’s surreal, now that I reflect on it.

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  7. Love this post because I’ve lived it so often over the last 3 years. The small moments, the memories, the times that remind us of others long past. As I ‘m always saying, carpe diem, seize the day. Enjoy every minute really.

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