For the past two days my mother has been out of the house at lunchtime, leaving me, the only Slattery sister still left at the house, to make dinner. I don’t usually cook, so this is noteworthy. And as I sat at our long, Amish-made table for dinner those two days, and watched my skillfully (haha) homecooked meal being eaten, I realized just how much had changed. Years ago, that same table had been filled with several young children, yelling, fighting, refusing to eat their vegetables, and now the table was occupied by four, four, people. All of whom were, excepting me, above the age of 60. The first day I saw this, I was struck with sadness. I moved to the kitchen. Without me there, the picture was dismal. There sat my Dad, at the head of the table. Peter sat on his right, devouring a platefull of tomatoes covered in mayonnaise. On his left sat Grandma, slowly eating her sandwich of store-bought fake lunch meat. And then Dad got up, leaving Grandma and Peter across each other at the table.
Grandma: Well, would you like some yogurt?
Grandma: Would you like some yogurt here?
Peter: Oh, no thank you.
So polite, so…old.
The second day Peter made his own dinner, leaving Grandma, Dad, me, and Dad’s trusty semi-helpful helper, Gary. James came down later for the meal, and this time I had to laugh. The whole thing was so different, so…unSlatterylike. It’s always tough when siblings go off to college, and now that only James and I are left it’s especially bad. Thankfully Cale came back for a while, and is playing guitar as I type this. Not everything changes, but a lot does. I’ve never liked change, it’s always scared me. I don’t want to get old. I don’t want my loved ones to die, and leave me all alone. One of the most important things I’ve learned about change has come straight out of a Disney Pixar movie. The two lines that struck me, and that I’ll always remember, I have to keep telling myself:
“You can’t change nature.”
“Nature is change.”
(See if you can figure out which animated movie that’s from.)