It started as a small gesture in navigating a "new normal". I'm a doer. I see a need and I want to do something to help. So I offered to make dinner for my father-in-law, having my husband and I join him on the first night he would be at home...alone...for the first time in almost sixty-six years. I had no idea what this one small gesture would become for me.
My mother-in-law passed away in April. April 25th. 5 days before her 84th birthday and 5 months before her 66th wedding anniversary. After her faith in God, her family was most important to her. She was always most happy surrounded by her children and their families.
That first Tuesday I made homemade chicken pot pie. The three of us had dinner together. Tuesday arrived again. I called my father-in-law and invited him to come over to our house for dinner. The three of us had dinner together. Lasagna was on the menu. Tuesday arrived again. And...well... it's just become what we do. Dee Dinner Date Night. Every Tuesday.
Friends and family members say things like, "That's so thoughtful of you." or "What a nice thing to do for your father-in-law." But as I was prepping dinner last Tuesday, I started thinking about how it's become so much more than that.
It's reignited my love of cooking. I'm enjoying coming up with a new menu each Tuesday. I scour cookbooks and websites, looking for new recipes to try each week. I try to make everything from scratch. I make sure to cook more than we can eat, sending home enough leftovers for another dinner for my father-in-law later in the week. It's like new self imposed challenge each week.
It's my way of showing my husband, my father-in-law, (and even the immediate family) that I hurt with them in their loss. I feel the void, not in the exact way they do. Their history with her is much longer than mine. But I feel the void. And I loved her, just as they loved her. Our dinner conversations always include stories about her...and just by sharing these memories together, we heal a little bit.
And in this small gesture...making dinner...I remember and honor my mother-in-law. I find myself thinking about her as I'm prepping meals each week. I remember how much she loved sitting at the table, with family all around, sharing home cooked meals together. I can hear the pride in her voice when she talked about her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. I remember her style of cooking...no measuring...but a little of this and a little of that, tasting as she would go...and I smile.
Dee Dinner Date Night connects me to her. And as I prepare the meal, set the dinner table, and prepare to welcome them both to the table each Tuesday evening, I'm saying to her
"I know how much you loved them, your husband and your youngest son. And I'll continue showing them love...just as you did...in the doing."
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