Everything at my grandparent’s house seemed to revolve around food. Well, food and professional wrestling but that’s for another day.
Breakfast was early every morning. The biscuits were made from scratch and there was an endless supply of eggs, bacon and sausage.
Lunch was later in the morning, usually around the time that The Price is Right came on. Eating lunch at my grandparents house was sort of like going to the Golden Corral except that my grandparent’s kitchen didn’t have a chocolate fountain in it. And the food was fresh. And made from scratch. Okay, it was nothing like the Golden Corral but there was a lot of food. More than anyone needed. But I did sometimes eat in my pajamas so that’s a little like the Golden Corral.
Dinner usually came around 5 and it was the same thing all over again.
Later in the evening we had what my grandmother referred to as recess. This is where we ate snacks because the three buffets earlier in the day didn’t seem to do the trick. Recess is where I met my very first girlfriend. Her name was Little Debbie.
My grandfather had a ritual after every meal. As soon as he was done he would grab all the dishes he could find and start washing them. This would always lead to the same conversation between him and my grandmother.
“Leman, sit down. I’ll get those dishes.”
“No, mother. I got it.”
My grandmother would always say something under her breath but the issue had already been settled. Leman was doing the dishes.
Somewhere along the way I changed my diet. I upgraded from fried chicken and Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies to green tea and couscous. But at our house now, when each meal is over, I still think about Leman Sanders washing dishes.
My grandfather never told me, “Look, do not ever let your wife do the dishes. Even if she says she can do them, you do them anyway.” He never told me. He showed me instead.
Somehow, in spite of all of that food, my grandfather was a very thin man. Towards the end of his life he got even thinner. Instead of eating my grandmother’s cooking he had to settle for Ensure. When his doctor told him to slow down, he didn’t listen. He took his last breath standing in front of the closet in his bedroom. He took his last breath faithfully serving his bride. She was standing right behind him.
He never told me, “Jay, stick with your wife. Never stop loving and serving her.” He never told me. He showed me instead.
My boys are young but I make sure to tell them how to treat others, including each one’s future wife. One day, maybe each son will be seated at a table across from the girl that he has pledged to love and serve forever. And when the meal is over, I hope he gets up and grabs some dishes because of what his father told him and showed him.
And if there are any young boys seated at the table with them I hope that they will be watching.
You can learn a lot by watching.
I know I sure did.