Mother’s Last Supper
A quiet evening. Surprisingly, mother had scrubbed our feet - even those of my older sisters Maureen and Jean. “You should wash one another’s feet too,” she said gently as she finished washing Frank’s feet.
At that sunset hour we all sat at the beautiful mahogany dining table. I loved that table. The artistic design of its huge, beautifully carved legs and patterned surface was extremely admirable. . The table, a work of art, which had stood elegantly for more than three generations, was the family’s official meeting place where we were allowed to share our thoughts and ideas for improved family living, However, that evening I got the impression that the old table was saying something very special to us. Something I could not understand.
As always, Mother blessed the table and listened attentively while her loving eyes looked at each of us as though she was reading our thoughts. It was Frank who started the conversation: “ Molly stays too long in the bathroom in the mornings”.
“That’s because you are always waking up late,” I replied. “Then you want to rush! rush! rush!”
“Well that’s something to be sorted out ,” Maureen chimed in.
“Oh, I know what we can do mother,” Jean remarked hastily. “ I’ll make a roster and that way we will all have our own bathroom time.”
“Good idea my love,” said mother. “ You have a fine job to do Jean.”
Curiously, I watched Mother’s hands at work trying to cut the big King fish into small pieces. Soon it became noticeable to everyone that Mother was in fact struggling to use the knife.
“Well, well”, said Mother: “This isn’t getting anywhere, I’ll just break it in pieces with my bare hands, Oh the joy of motherhood,” she continued smilingly as she served the fish accompanied by a hot cup of peppermint . We looked at one another quizzically but said nothing.
“Eat and drink,” mother said softly. Then she began speaking as if she was celebrating her life’s history:
“Life has a purpose which must be fulfilled. Love is from God and we should share our love as a family and extend that love to others. Hope for the future and trust in God, our Father. Sow good seeds and reap a good harvest. We must get rid of the old leaven and get new leaven then we will put away hatred and live good lives. Be as free as the fish in the water and count your cupfuls as blessings. If we continue in obedience we shall inherit great rewards. Let us follow God’s commands even to the end. So that we will enjoy eternal life in Heaven ”
I had never heard Mother speaking in that manner before. I knew that she had a hard time raising four children after dad died and she had carried all her problems within her. She had been through grief and pain.
While Mother spoke poetically, I looked at little Frank, both his hands were at his cheeks. Jean held out her hands as if to say “Dear Mother, please tell us what this is all about.” Sister Maureen folded both hands gracefully in front of her while I rested one hand on the table, the other on Frank’s shoulder. Our lips were silent yet our hands said much.
The next day Mother was dead. It was a new beginning for us.
Since then I believe that God’s art work of creating our hands is indeed a masterpiece especially when I look, as I often do, at the great painting of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. I always try to determine what each person’s hands are saying.
And I will always remember Mother’s last supper. As a family ritual we continue to commune with one another. We break our fish in pieces and sip hot peppermint in memory of Mother.
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