The Restaurant

I was in Steinbach for an appointment last week and it was a lot shorter than I had expected so I decided to surprise my sister at work before heading back to Winnipeg.  My sister is a cook at a popular, and very good, restaurant in town.  So I surprised her and ordered something to eat.  I sat down at a table and I realized that I hadn’t been to this restaurant since the day of my Mom’s funeral almost a year ago when we had an early family dinner.

As I sat there I remembered all the times I had been there with my Mom.  Going out for afternoon coffee – or any time of day – was one of her favorite things.  And I was always up for it as well.  She always knew someone, had a conversation, a laugh, or just a “hi” as she walked by.  I looked around at the people in the restaurant and wondered if there was anyone there that day that she would have known.  After Mom was sick and unable to go out we would pick up food for her.  Mom was friends with the owners and knew all the waitresses so they didn’t mind “bending” the menu for Mom when her tastes changed.  And there were days where Mom would get hungry for pie so we would call the restaurant to see what they had that day so Mom could decide and then go pick it up if it was the right kind for that days craving.  They were always so good to her.  This was also the restaurant where she had fainted and they had taken care of her until my sister got there.

The other day I sipped my coffee and I looked across at the empty chair and I could almost see her sitting in front of me.  Maybe she was in the washroom and would be right back.  Maybe she hadn’t gotten there yet and was on her way.  Every time I heard the door I expected to see her walk around the corner with a big smile on her face.  But she didn’t.  And she wasn’t.  My sister came and sat down.  We had a good chat and a few laughs.  But someone was missing.

Now that was a year after her passing and I was only there once.  My sister went back to work a few days after the funeral and faced that absence every day.  She spoke with Mom’s friends, answered their questions and listened to their memories.  I realize that I have been very sheltered here in Winnipeg without the painful daily memories and I’m not sure how my sister did it, especially in the beginning.  But as painful as these experiences are they are also cleansing and important.  Mom’s illness became so overwhelming it was and still is difficult to remember the times before she was sick.  It was refreshing to go somewhere that holds the “before” memories.

2 thoughts on “The Restaurant

  1. I remember so well the difficulty in remembering ‘good times’ with Mom, after that almost year-long struggle with her brain cancer. The memories of her in her bed at home and being cared for there, the memories of her body deteriorating and the cancer stealing away her eyesight, her personality, and eventually her capability of knowing who we were, of her becoming someone we no longer knew (to a point at least), of not being able to talk with her and say our goodbyes in her last days or even months, and then of that last morning when we were all called and were able to gather around her bed as she took her final breath… it was so hard to get those memories pushed aside so that we could look beyond and take in the precious ones being held back. It was like a curtain… but that curtain did slowly draw back after a while, and the good memories once again floated to the surface and enveloped me little by little. Some in my family struggled more than others with this ‘memory loss’, but I am thankful that we were able to grab a hold of the past once again, after time, even though we will certainly never forget that long and difficult final year of her life.

  2. Really appreciated your words today Lisa (as I always do). The “void” really struck me. I is something that I often think about what it will be like when my mom and dad are spending time with Jesus face to face. I won’t be able to pick up the phone and hear their voices or go see them if I want to. I know it will happen but not looking forward to it. Again thank you for sharing your gift of words that are arranged so beautifully


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