When I was a young child, my parents brought home a Moosehead furniture-made, dark maple, dining room table with eight matching chairs. The glossy wood table was beautiful and there were two leaves to add more room for more people as needed. For you see, in my family, dinner was the most important meal of the day and with six kids and two adults, a large table was a necessity.

It may seem old fashioned to current families, but my mother had dinner on the table at 5 pm every night, on the dot. We were all expected to be there, on time, even my hard-working father, unless a sporting event or after school activity prevented us and then there was always a plate warming in the oven when we got home.

That table meant more than just the wood it was built from. It was where the eight of us celebrated birthdays, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases and all the other holidays throughout the years. On Saturdays, my father cooked pancakes and served us while we sat at our table. For Easter, my father would hop like a rabbit around the table delivering Easter baskets for six children. It was where we ate pumpkin muffins my older sister cooked for a home economics class and which we promptly spit out when we discovered she put salt on the tops instead of sugar. Where much homework was done and the place where I had a serious talking to about my changing majors in college. It was where boyfriends sat to talk with our folks and weddings planned.

It was where my mother sat, after my father had died three months earlier, to discuss her will after she went on hospice. Where we sat while she asked me if there was anything I wanted.

My initial response was I only wanted that she live forever. We both smiled, knowing not even our family’s love could prevent the inevitable. The only thing I could think of that I wanted was that old dining table and chairs. Some of the chair legs wobbled and needed re-gluing yearly and the chair my father sat was worn smooth in spots. It had survived about 40 years of use and abuse. But to me, it was what going home was all about.

I’m 54 years old. I don’t know where the time has gone. The idea of home has changed for me over the years. I think about the different physical places my life has led me. I’ve counted seven houses in total that I’ve lived in. But nothing means home to me more than my parents’ dining room table.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Read more stories from Maine at www.pressherald.com/meetinghouse

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