A few years ago my sister-in-law startled me when she announced that I was the Matriarch of the family now that my mother had passed. The role, bestowed upon me as the oldest daughter, sounded foreign when in fact, I had stepped into the position quietly without much thought.
Preparing for a family gathering usually begins a few days in advance with shopping, cooking and cleaning. Our modest-size home becomes a gathering place for twenty to thirty loving, laughing and sometimes messy guests. Those who aren’t standing in the kitchen flow into the dining and living rooms. After that they spill out onto the deck or downstairs into the den.
Hosting the events brings much joy to me and my husband, but by the time the last one is ushered out the door, I must admit, exhaustion sets in and I appreciate the next few hours of quiet solitude. When every counter has been wiped and crumb vacuumed up, I love to indulge myself by uncorking a bottle of my favorite red wine.
That is exactly what I did last year after a summer barbeque. I caressed the half-filled glass of Merlot and gently placed it on the end table next to the couch. After filling a small bowl with a few left-over strawberries, I sat down on the sofa and reached for the goblet in anticipation of the succulent reward. The delicate glass tipped forward and touched the ceramic lamp, shattering and sending shards of glass and crimson liquid in every direction.
Wine dripped through the slate squares of the table onto the beige carpet. I quickly removed the lamp and pulled the table into the nearby kitchen where it proceeded to drip across the tiled floor. The sticky fluid trailed down the wall much like tears that streamed down my face. The few ounces of joy poured in anticipation of relaxation seemed to multiply like biblical bread.
My husband appeared on the scene within seconds, not so much for support, but to scream “What the heck did you do that for?”
“Because you hadn’t screamed at me for a while!” I replied in frustration.
It took every last ounce of cleaner and energy we had to eradicate the disaster without any permanent damage. The fear of experiencing that nightmare again won’t keep me from fulfilling my role as Matriarch, but it has made me seriously contemplate becoming a Chardonnay junky or maybe I’ll invest in a Sippy cup and stick to my dry reds.