The Candle Stays by Maureen Locher


Maureen Locher photoTonight my family of men and I sat down to dinner. What was commonplace for years has become a rarity. For the past week and a half I have been bitten by the flu bug. Although I haven’t yet let loose with a swine-like oink, I have been feeling pretty bad. Yesterday my only claim to fame was making dinner in a kitchen with more dirty dishes than clean before I began.

I kept it together. I didn’t get too mad. I’m resourceful. Certain utensils can double for others in a pinch. At the end we ate in the living room watching Notre Dame trounce their opponent. And dinner was appreciated by four.

But four isn’t six; four is not all.

Tonight I pieced together the last halfway simple ingredients for an edible meal. Mother Hubbard’s cupboards are bare. And tonight we were six; tonight we were all. I don’t know why, but I lit a candle and placed it in the middle of the table. I think somewhere in my psyche candles mean love.

We ate. We talked. Nothing special. I purposely brought up nothing disagreeable. Looking around the table at my five men I could have spouted plenty, and I’m sure they all could have reciprocated. But it’s difficult to be grumpy in candlelight.

When the first son started to bolt, I asked him to stay, saying simply, “Humor me. Pretend it’s Thanksgiving, and let’s hold hands.” My kids aren’t kids anymore; they are grown men aged 19-24. And they humored me – we all held hands.

A powerful strength lies in the family. Sometimes I wonder why none of my boys have gone off to college. What’s the draw to stay here to work and attend classes? God knows we certainly have our share of flaws. We know each and every button to push to bring out the worst in each other.

But when one is in need, another zeroes in on the cure. We try.

I can hold the fiercest feeling in my heart to walk out that door – Ooh, they’d miss me! – and someone will hug me or make me laugh or just be plain stupid, and thoughts of flight fly out the window. I survive another day among the men.

For good, bad or somewhere in between, I am one-sixth of this crazy pie called family. Our lives are intertwined. I’d like to think that the light that shone tonight was the Light – God’s Light – shining up a family in need of a little buffing.

The candle stays on the table.

Copyright 2009 Maureen Locher


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  1. Loved this piece. As I grow old-er (see I still think I’m not quite there) I’ve grown to appreciate the depth of family, its richness. After a tumultuous three years, separated from my daughter and grandson, I have come to a deeper understanding of the importance of family. Hindsight being 20-20, I wish I could go back in time and spend less time on keeping the house clean and more on making our family a closer unit. We seldom see our sons anymore.

    You are looking for a publisher. Try Michele Rapkin, Hatchette Publishers. She’s looking for Catholic based work. Be prepared to explain how you can market your work. That’s a real biggy in today’s market.

  2. So beautiful! Thank you for this. I have two young children, so it is difficult sometimes to keep my eternal perspective. I want to be their mom with grace, and I need to be reminded that a time will come when such moments will be a rarity, and a treat.

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