My wife Debbie and I recently drove to San Pedro, California to visit my 94 year old mother. There are certain cities that have drastically changed over the years, but San Pedro is one of those places that, at its core, is the same old place. Located 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, San Pedro was built upon the blue-collar, hard-nosed working class of folks who labored in the fishing industry or on the docks in some capacity. Of course, as time progressed, the span of employment opportunities expanded and school choices changed. My four older brothers and I, for example, went to Loyola High School in downtown LA rather than the local schools. I think it was my parents’ first step and forethought to expose us to life outside of San Pedro.
But, one person in particular from San Pedro who has not changed her resident city is my mother. She has lived in SP all of her 94 years! Two of the five brothers still live there as well about five minutes away. Another unchanged trait is her absolute joy when we are all able to gather with our spouses and the grandchildren. One of her biggest delights is to sit down for a family dinner. Growing up, our friends were always invited to the table. This last time that Debbie and I went to visit, the immediate family went to an Italian restaurant in Torrance called Primo. We were fortunate enough to have our own space in the restaurant where we could sit and enjoy conversation with each other. Never wanting to be the center of attention, we placed my mom at the head of the table anyway.
The table at home is an extension of the table at Church from which we all gather. We bring our whole selves to commune and share in some capacity. It is a place to relax with each other and step away from the busyness and the noise of the outside world. It brings respite and connectivity to share our joys and sorrows. We give thanks for having this capacity to gather and pause. Let us all remember those who do not have a table to share with family or friends.